Ten tips for a warm house
The cold and dark months of winter are the time when we spend more time indoors and turn up our heating. It’s also the time when our energy bills and greenhouse gas emissions go sky high.
We all need to keep warm, but we can do it in a greener, cleaner way. Here are our top ten tips for staying warm over winter. Want to get even more green tips? Sign up to our Green Action of the Month >
1. Use heavy curtains to stop heat escaping from your windows
Up to 40 per cent of the heat escaping from your home in winter is from uncovered windows. Heavy, lined curtains which extend below the window frame will insulate your windows and help keep the warmth in.
2. Install insulation in your house (or top up old and thinning insulation)
A well insulated house can use as much as 45% less energy for heating and cooling, which means that insulation pays for itself in cheaper bills. With energy prices set to rise, installing insulation now is a smart way of avoiding excessive bills in the future. Worried about the safety of insulation? Get the low down here.
3. Seal up gaps and cracks that let the cold air in
In your average Victorian home, if you added up all the cracks and gaps, it would be the equivalent of having a 1 metre by 1.5 metre window open all the time. They can account for 15 – 25 percent of heat loss in your home. Seal up cracks and gaps using weather stripping around doors and windows, gap filler for cracks in the walls and even a simple door snake for the bottom of the door. You can buy all of these things at your local hardware store, for not much money.
4. Install pelmets on top of your windows
These are either boxes which sit cover your curtain rod or 'invisible pelmets' which sit above your curtain rod and butt up against the back of the curtain, and they do a great job of stopping cold air coming in to your room. If you don’t have them, a cheap alternative is to attach a bit of plywood or corrugated plastic to the top of your curtain rail, out of sight behind the top of the curtain. Or even just pop a scarf up there. Check out our DIY guide
5. Watch the temperature
Heat the rooms you are using to around 20ºC in winter, a comfortable temperature for most people. If you don't have a programmable thermostat on your heater, place a thermometer in your living area to keep an eye on the temperature. And think of putting on a jumper before you try turning up the heat.
6. Close off any rooms that are not in use
Furniture can't feel the cold so why waste energy heating areas that you're not using? If your heating system will let you, turn it off in empty rooms. And don’t leave your heater or cooling system running all night or while you’re out. Turn it off or install a timer.
7. Let the sunshine in during the day
If you have any north facing windows, open up their curtains when it is sunny to let the sun heat up your house for you.
8. Insulate hot water pipes
Wrap external hot water pipes with simple lagging (insulating tape) to reduce the heat loss from your hot water tank to the taps, and reduce the energy needed to get your hot water. It can be bought cheaply from your local hardware shop.
9. If you can’t heat the room, heat yourself
If you can’t insulate your room or block draughts, it will be hard to heat the whole room, especially with a small electric heater. In this case you are better off sitting near the heater, so it at least keeps you warm.
10. Maintain your heaters
Getting your heater serviced professionally at least every two years will keep it running more efficiently. Keeping heaters free of dust and cleaning any filters regularly will also help. Or if you're in the market for a new one, check out this fact sheet