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10 ways to beat the heating bill blues

Worried about winter power bills? About 38 per cent of a household’s energy use is for heating.

Often our power bills are higher in winter because we are running heaters and dryers; taking longer showers; and leaving our lights switched on for longer because of shorter daylight hours.

Making a few small changes in the way we live can help prevent winter power bill shock.

Here are 10 ways to beat the heating bill blues.

  • Rug up: Before you turn to the heater or electric blanket, try adding an extra layer of clothing, woolly socks, or popping an extra blanket on your bed. Ditching the electric blanket or only using it to warm the bed before you go to sleep will help reduce power bills. A hot water bottle and flannelette sheets can be cosy – and less costly – alternatives.
  • Close curtains and blinds: Keep the heat in by opening curtains and blinds during the day and allowing the sun to warm a room and closing them again in the afternoon to stop cold air from creeping in.
  • Add floor coverings: If you’ve got hard floors, adding a rug in winter can help the room feel warmer.
  • Become a draught detective: Locate windows or doors where draughts may be causing heat to steal away. Using a door snake and sealing windows with weather seal tape can be low-cost ways to ensure the heat stays inside.
  • Choose your heater wisely: Portable heaters can be cheap to buy but more expensive to run. Think long-term energy efficiency when you replace or upgrade heaters. Gas heaters are more efficient than electric heaters.
  • Switch off: No longer in a room? Then give lights the flick. Likewise, if you’re not using a room, shut the door so you only heat the room you’re in. If your heater has a timer, set it so that it’s not running all night while you’re sleeping.
  • Turn the temperature down: Even reducing the temperature by one degree Celsius can reduce your heating energy bill by 10 per cent. Ideally, heating should be set between 18 and 20 degrees Celsius. Check your hot water system too. The thermostat should be set at 60 degrees Celsius for storage hot water systems and no more than 50 degrees Celsius on instantaneous systems.
  • Keep showers short: Hot water use can be a third of your energy costs so using an egg timer when you’re taking a shower can help keep a lid on cost. Likewise, only wash clothes in cold water.
  • Dry naturally: If you make a practise of popping clothes in the dryer, try hanging them on a clothesline on sunny days or using a drying rack inside on damp days.
  • Do an audit on appliances: Have you got into the habit of leaving appliances plugged in and switched on all the time? Mobile phone left charging when it’s already at full charge? Switching appliances off at the wall when they are not in use can make a difference to your power bills.