How to heat your home and save money this winter

When the temperature plummets, our energy bills skyrocket - but there are a few simple ways to save in winter.

Heating and cooling makes up to 40 per cent of your energy bill, which means there's also a huge opportunity for savings when it's done correctly.

Energy Efficiency Council CEO, Luke Menzel, believes people often spend more than is necessary simply because they aren't aware of ways to cut costs.

If you're stressing out about your next energy bill, try a few money-saving alternatives this winter.

Is your heater right for your space?

Depending on the size and style of your home, you could be wasting energy with the wrong type of heating system, Luke says. 

While the energy rating of your appliance is very important ("four stars or more" is the rule of thumb), the size of the space is also vital to consider. For instance, if you're looking to heat a single room or smaller space, Sustainability Victoria claims a reverse cycle air conditioner is more efficient than gas and portable electric heaters, regardless of energy ratings. 

The best way to ensure your heater is the best size for your space is to consult and expert (or several!). 

Resist your dryer

Winter often leaves you little choice when it comes to drying clothes, but try and think of your dryer as a luxury option, not the default. These electrical appliances chew through energy more than most other electrical appliances in your home, so take every opportunity to power them down. 

"Using the dryer less can make a big difference, especially if you have an old, inefficient one," Luke says. "Take advantage of those sunny winter days to dry clothes, or hang them up in the lounge room."

Turn on your electric blanket

You might think you can get by without one, but electric blankets are a more efficient and effective way to stay warm at night than a space heater. 

According to Luke, the best way to use an electric blanket is to switch it on 30 minutes before going to bed, turning it off once you get it. This should keep you warm all night. 

Evaluate your hot water system

"The big opportunity to save on hot water is when you replace you hot water system," Luke says. "In general, you should avoid electric hot water systems. They are cheap to buy, but the running costs are very high. Gas, solar or natural gas boosted solar are all solid options, and will be much cheaper to run."

You should also check if your hot water system is the right size for you needs. If it's too big, you're wasting energy heating a lot of water you aren't using. 

Heat to the right degree

The optimal temperature for your air-con in winter is 18 to 21 degrees, Luke advises. Any degree beyond that could up your bill by 10 per cent.

Look into technology like smart thermostats, timers, zoning and even sensor operated systems will help ensure your home - or the rooms you need - stay perfectly heated.

Patch up the holes

You may have heard this a thousand times, but it bears repeating: the best and most efficient way to heat your home is to close up cracks. Check the seals on your windows, cover gaps around doors and patch up any holes in your walls that will let the heat escape or the cold to enter. 

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