10 tips for a warm house | Environment Victoria

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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


Download this information as a fact sheet

Do you rent? Find out what you can and can't do to keep your rental property warm




Tell the Victorian Government to deliver on their promise to upgrade the energy efficiency of Victorian homes >


keeping warm indoors

I wear my housecoat indoors - a microfibre dressing gown in a pleasing colour. Snug and warm enough for Antarctica! That way a low background heat is all that's needed


Mon, 08/07/2013 - 17:50 — Anonymous -

Acclimatise yourself to the cold

I find by being outside in the cold for 15 minutes, (it's tough but people have to deal with below freezing degrees most of their lives like in Siberia and Eastern Europe where central heating is nearly obsolete), but being outside in the cold, then coming back indoors really makes you feel warmer. Initially we have not had the heater on at all this year so we have had no need to have it on when it has gotten a bit colder, so we practically have acclimatised to the cold, but there is a limit to how far you can acclimatise yourself to the cold and I think in the much colder months of July and August we might use the heater, but if the weather is like now in June, I don't think we'll ever be using the heater this whole year. :-)

Just work through it, Australians are considered strong people, so let's prove it by dealing with the cold, like we are strong enough to. At the moment it's 11 degrees in our house, according to our indoor thermometer and I don't feel cold at all, outside does feel a bit chilly, but it's nothing compared to Eastern Europe's winters.

Thu, 20/06/2013 - 09:48 — Anonymous -

Wear a beanie

Heat loss through your head can be stopped by wearing a woollen beanie,will keep you so much warmer so you can keep heaters on low.

Mon, 06/05/2013 - 00:55 — Anonymous -

More places to seal for draughts

More places to seal for draughts are the vents in walls/ ceilings (unless you have unflued gas heating), and close the damper in your open fireplace when it's not in use. Also seal and close the doors to rooms that have exhaust fans in the ceiling. You can buy products that seal exhaust fans when not in use, too.

And to state the obvious.... wear extra layers of clothing! We even keep some nice blankets folded on the couch, to put over our legs instead of turning the heater up. It's cosy, but looks like a room full of grannys!

Sat, 17/07/2010 - 00:25 — Anonymous -


People may scoff, but I find my lovely snuggie perfect for just such an occasion. :p

Tue, 20/07/2010 - 10:14 — Greg Foyster -

agreed ^^^^^^

agreed ^^^^^^

Sun, 01/08/2010 - 13:21 — Anonymous -

Keeping Warm by Saving Heat

I save any surplus boiled water in a thermos. So, when I want my next cuppa, cook some vegies or rice or simply want a warm hand-wash without getting the 4 litres of cold water that will come through first, I transfer the thermos water into use first. Voila less gas or electricity used and possibly less water wasted.

Thu, 03/06/2010 - 17:58 — Anonymous -

Keeping Warm - saving heat

I boil my kettle and any left over hot water gets transferred to a Thermos flask. Next time I want hot water I use the water from the Thermos. Useful for kick-starting your next hot cuppa, cooking vegetables and warm handwashes, when running the hot tap will only give you cold water until you've run 4-5 litres, hopefully, into a bucket.

Thu, 03/06/2010 - 17:53 — Anonymous -

nice one

I really like the 3rd tip. I've found its helped drop my heating bill by 10%!

Wed, 05/08/2009 - 18:19 — Anonymous -
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