Winter is well and truly upon us, bringing with it frosty mornings and freezing cold evenings, and that’s just on the days when it’s not raining! Our instinct is usually just to crank up the heating but this results in scary gas and electricity bills, and isn’t exactly friendly for our planet either! So today I thought I’d share some tips and tricks for staying warm this winter that should help both the planet and your hip pocket!
Much of the warmth in our homes escapes through gaps around our doors and windows – up to 25% in fact! Before turning on your heater it’s important to plug as many of these gaps as possible to avoid the heat heading straight outside, and to reduce the drafts in your house which can make you feel even colder. This is as simple as using weather stripping around your doors and windows, and even just buying an old fashioned door snake. You’ll be amazed at how much of a difference it can make!
Roughly 40% of heat escapes our homes through uncovered windows. Curtains or blinds are a great start, but block-out curtains/blinds are an even better option. They hold in a lot more heat, and are equally useful in summer to block out the harsh sun. You can buy the blockout material separately at fabric stores like Spotlight or Lincraft and that way you can just sew it onto the back of your current curtains, rather than having to replace the curtains entirely.
Before you turn on the heater check if there are any rooms that you’re not going to need to be in for long and close them off, including shutting off their heater valve if you have central heating. I know if I’m home during the day I spend a lot of time in my study, but in the evenings you’re more likely to find me in the kitchen or lounge, so there’s no need for me to keep the study toasty warm too! This will reduce how much heating you need to use, and you’ll no longer be paying to heat rooms you’re not using!
On days when the sun is shining, make the most of it! Open the curtains on the side of your house that gets the best winter sunshine and harness as much heat as you possibly can! Just be sure to close up the curtains before the chilly evening descends to make sure you trap as much of the heat in as you can!
It might sound rather simple, but making sure you are wearing thick socks (or socks with slippers if you’re like me!) can make a huge difference to how cold you feel, and therefore how high you’re likely to turn up the heater. I find a little rug for when I’m on the couch works wonders too!
Another rather simple one, but drinking warming drinks like teas or hot chocolates, and eating foods like soups, curries and stews can help warm up your body and as a result leave you feeling less like you need that heater on. As an added bonus, anything you cook in the oven will heat you up twice, as not only will you get warming, delicious food but the oven itself will act as a heat source while it’s on! Time to get baking perhaps!
I don’t tend to spend much time in my bedroom other than to sleep, so I often close it up when I have the heater on, which can leave it rather chilly by the time bed-time rolls around. Rather than heat the whole room just to avoid the few minutes of cold before the doona does its job, how about try popping a hot water bottle under the covers five minutes before you head to bed, that way it will be toasty warm the second you get in, without having to heat the room all evening.
Once you’ve done all these simple steps you’re likely to find you won’t need the thermostat anywhere near as high as you once did, particularly as you’re no longer losing the heat out through your windows and doors. Most people are very comfortable at around 20C, particularly if you’re wearing thick socks and a jumper, and the reduction in thermostat temperature even a couple of degrees can save you a lot of money.
So there you have it – my top 8 tips to staying warm on these cold, wintry days! Have you got any tips to share? I’d love to hear how you stay warm at home!
Liz is a mid-20s kiwi-born, Melbourne raised urban and environmental planner. She’s passionate about the environment and sustainability, loves cooking and baking (and eating!), going on picnics, wandering through markets, watching sport and learning new things. She’s curious about the world, loves to explore both close to home and overseas and is fascinated by how cities grow, develop and change. Check out I Spy Plum Pie for great recipes and tips on sustainable living.