Unless you’re a swallow, following the sun to avoid a chilly winter just isn’t possible for most of us. But you don’t have to dread the long, cold nights if you follow the simple tips in this article. Not only will your home be cosier, you’ll be saving money and saving the planet.
Most of our methods for combating the icy blasts of winter involve using electricity. And that’s why we expect to see a spike in our yearly electrical bill between June and August. But with the increasing costs of this source of energy, it makes sense to look for more affordable alternatives. You don’t have to deprive yourself of warmth and comfort—just be smarter about the way you use it.
# 1: Draft-proof your house
The key to keeping your home cosy in winter is insulating it. That way the warm air stays inside, and the cold air stays outside. So take the time to check for any air leaks. Doors, windows, plumbing and wiring holes are the most obvious spots for air leaks.
Arm yourself with a tube of exterior silicon caulk or some insulation strips and get to work patching up the gaps. And don’t forget the gap between your doors and the floor. You can use a simple door sweep to solve this problem.
These are in-expensive measures you can take to insulate your home without impacting the environment. You may still need to use a heater to warm up the air inside your home, but it will be more efficient with proper insulation. And you’ll see a real reduction in your energy bill over the winter months.
# 2: Close the door to unused rooms
Remember, it’s much easier and more energy efficient to heat a small space. So cut down on the area you have to heat by closing doors to unused rooms. You could even roll up a towel or mat and use it at the bottom of the door to stop any air leaks.
That way you aren’t spending energy heating up an area that’s not in use. If it’s unlikely that you’ll need to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, then close your bathroom door before you go to sleep. This is good advice when it comes to bathrooms and guest toilets.
Bathrooms are usually completely tiled which makes them very cold in winter. Closing your bathroom door will prevent the cold air from seeping out and finding its way into your bedroom while you sleep and lowering the temperature while you sleep. You’ll sleep better in a room that’s comfortably warm and once again, it will reduce the amount of energy you use to keep your bedroom at the right temperature through the night.
# 3: Use a hot water bottle to heat your bed
The hot water bottle versus the electric blanket always stirs up a passionate debate. From an energy perspective you could argue that an electric blanket is more efficient than boiling a kettle. But that’s only if you use it to warm up your bed and switch off the moment you climb in. But how many people can really resist leaving it off the whole night?
By contrast, a hot water bottle does require more energy, but the effects last longer without the need for continually consuming expensive power. The trick is to wrap your hot water bottle up and place it at the bottom of your bed at least half an hour before you go to sleep. This gives it time to warm the bed up before you get in. And you can un-wrap it during the night to release more warmth as you need it.
You could even use a microwaveable hot water bottle to save on heating costs. And you’ll still have a toasty place to lay your head in winter without putting a big dent in your electricity bill.
# 4: Leave your oven door open after cooking or baking
Winter is the perfect time to indulge in some comfort food. So after whipping up a tray of chocolate chip cookies or a tummy-pleasing macaroni and cheese, leave your oven door open. All the power used to make these delicious things results in a lot of heat that goes to waste if you simply close the oven door once you’re done.
Leave the door open though, and you’ll fill your kitchen with some warmth (and a homely smell) while you enjoy the fruits of your domestic labour. And your kitchen will still be cosy as you get working cleaning up afterwards. If you’re serious about reducing electricity costs and saving the planet, small habits like this can make a real difference in the long run. You should always look for ways to get the most out of the electricity you use—especially in winter.
# 5: Invest in a humidifier
The air in winter is not just colder, it’s also drier. So it’s no surprise that many people use a humidifier in the colder months to make their homes more comfortable. Using a humidifier has a number of benefits:
- It keeps your skin moist so you won’t suffer from scaly skin and chapped lips.
- Your wooden furniture will last longer and won’t dry out which often results in shrinking and cracking.
- You won’t suffer with a dry throat and nasal passages from breathing in cold, dry air all the time.
But the great thing about humidifiers is that they actually save you money on your heating bill. Moist air feels warmer, so you’ll be able to turn down your thermostat and still have a cosy, comfortable house. You need to do your homework though and make sure you’re getting the right kind and size of humidifier to suit your needs. Think about the size of the room you’ll be using it in, and how convenient it is for you to refill it.
If you’re not ready to spend money on a humidifier, you can always buy some indoor plants. They’ll help to add more moisture to the air in your home. Or, you could open the bathroom door after a hot shower and let the moisture and warmth spread out into your home.
With the right humidifier in place you can enjoy the health and comfort benefits of warm, moist air throughout the winter and save on heating costs.
# 6: Change the direction of your ceiling fan
We’ll bet you never thought about this nifty trick. Ceiling fans are designed to spin anti-clockwise and force warm up and away during the summer months. But by reversing the way they rotate you can use this to your advantage in winter. That way the warmth is forced down to where you really need it.
Most fans have a switch that you can use to change the direction in which the blades spin. And this little trick is perfect for rooms with high vaulted ceilings which are difficult to heat up in the winter. Just set the fan on its lowest setting to keep the warm air moving downwards, and your space will feel just as cosy as a smaller room.
Once again, this is a more efficient use of energy than just relying on running heaters at high temperatures for a long period of time.
# 7: Use a space heater and only heat the room you’re using
There’s no need to constantly heat your entire house in winter. It’s expensive and it wastes electricity. So get used to using smaller heaters to warm up the room when you’re in it. That way you stay warm and comfortable without running up a huge bill in the process.
The rooms you use most often are usually the kitchen and living room, so don’t worry about the bedrooms until just before you turn in for the night. Get the heater on while you bath or shower; that way the room will be warm and snug when you come out.
# 8: Put rugs down on tiled floors
Not all homes have carpets in every room, so when winter hits invest in some large, thick rugs to make your floors more comfortable. Unless you have underfloor heating (which can be expensive), heating the tiles in your home is almost impossible.
And while walking barefoot across a cool, tiled floor is heavenly in summer, in the winter it’s a nightmare. So indulge in your passion for interior décor and add some rugs to up the cosiness and save your feet from an unpleasant experience.
# 9: Dress warmly and make a hot drink
It goes without saying that when winter strikes you need to dress warmly. Throw in a cup of tea, coffee or even hot chocolate and you’ll be as snug as the proverbial bug in a rug. It’s easier to raise your body temperature than warming a whole house. And it’s cheaper too.
So get out your blankets, wraps and slippers and enjoy everything that winter has to offer. After all, it only lasts for a few months every year.
Unless you live in a home that has been purpose-built with expert insulation and double-glazed windows, the truth is that you are going to need to use electricity to maintain a certain level of comfort throughout the winter.
But there are ways to stay warm, save money and conserve energy. Just keep the following in mind:
- Insulating your home is an inexpensive, sure-fire way to reduce your electricity bill. So look for ways to stop warm air getting out, or cold air getting in and seal them up. You’ll benefit from a properly insulated home in the summer months too.
- Don’t let the heat you do generate go to waste. Think of all the things that create warmth in your home. You heaters, oven and even your shower can make the air around your warmer. Get the maximum benefit from all of these heat sources and find ways to contain it.
- Heat smaller areas and save. If you’re not using it—don’t heat it. This is another way of ensuring that the heat you create isn’t wasted.
Green homes must be so well insulated that you hardly notice the change in seasons. They should feature insulated ceilings and walls, floors and pipes and make use of double-glazed windows and glass doors to render the fluctuations in temperature throughout the year almost non-existent.
Combine that with a hydronics radiant heating and cooling system and you’ll have a comfortable and cost-effective environment. So if you’re in the market for a new home, it’s worth looking at one that already has the insulation you need for a cosy winter.