How to keep the bills down this winter
When it comes to securing the house from the elements come winter, knowing where to start can be difficult. Adrian Franchina, one half of the The Bostik Australia Tradie ambassadors, (also known as The Bostik Boys), says there are quite a few things you can do to prepare for the coming winter so that you can still stay warm and save money.
First up, he advises sealing any cracks in walls or window or door frames that are letting cold air in and warm air out. Invest in door snakes to stop draughts, then try to section off parts of your home so that you only heat rooms you’re using.
“Winter is the time you’re most likely to get rising damp in your home so check that your wet areas, such as your bathroom, kitchen and laundry have no leaks,” Adrian says. “If you have broken or damaged roof tiles now is the time to get them repaired.”
A lot of heat can be lost through windows, so covering them with curtains or blinds can make a big difference as can insulation.
“Many people think that cranking up the heating is the best way to stay warm on a cold day,” Adrian says. “But if your thermostat is set to a comfortable temperature it shouldn’t need adjusting no matter what the weather outside is.”
Some people also think it’s best to leave the heating on low all the time, rather than turn it on and off, but you’re better off to set your heating to come on just before people will be up in the morning and home in the afternoon or evening.
Insulation can help you keep the desired temperature in your house all year around. A typical house can lose about 35 per cent of heat through the ceiling, 10 to 20 per cent through windows, 15 to 25 per cent through walls, and 10 to 20 per cent through floors.
A home heated to about 20°C is ideal, and every degree you reduce heat can save up to 10 per cent on your energy use.
“If your family is walking around in a shorts and T-shirts on a cold day, you’re probably over heating your house.”
Mark Menegatti, who runs MRM Construction, says it’s worth shopping around.
“If you’ve been with one gas or electricity supplier for a while, get on the blower to find out what competitors can offer,” he says.
He also suggests spending money this year investing in energy efficient appliances to enjoy the savings next year.
“Your dishwasher should have an energy rating of 3.5 stars or more. Each star reduces running costs by about 30 per cent a year.”
Check your roof space to see if your insulation is up to scratch. It can slow down heat loss, which will impact on your power bills.
If you are planning to stay in your home long-term, consider solar panels. A standard 5kw system takes between six and nine years to recoup the upfront investment and should last about 20 years.
Appliances account for up to 30 per cent of energy use. Always check the star ratings on new appliances. The more stars, the more energy efficient the product.