As winter blankets Australia this time of year, everyone is cranking up their heaters to stay warm. However, this can also come with an increase on your electricity bills, especially when you’re using electric heating systems. On average, Australians’ residential electricity costs are generally $120 – $230 higher during winter than in summer (source).
A 2019 survey in Australia revealed that despite the increasing electricity costs, 34% of the 1,000 respondents did not lower their energy usage in the house during winter. Another 30% of those surveyed are braving the cold to reduce electricity costs by only using their heaters once a week. (source).
There are several ways to reduce your costs (not just electricity costs) when heating your home for the winter. Some can be done instantly while other involve adjustments to your heating system.
Impact of Gas and Wood Fire Heating on Electricity Bills
Switching to a wood fire from electric heater can save you up to 50% on your electricity bill.
There are other environmental facts that must also be considered, such as the impacts of the use of gas.
There are also non-monetary costs to consider when using non-electric heating system. For example, the smoke produced is a major pollution source and a potential health risk – especially in urban areas. You’ll also have to factor in the manual labour (e.g. chopping and loading the wood) before you can run your heating system.
Everyday household activities to reduce heating costs
Regularly lower your thermostat
The Australian Dept. of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources recommends that heating thermostats or reverse cycle units should be around 18 to 20 degrees in winter. It also states that that your energy costs increase to as much as 10% with each extra degree.
Take advantage of the sunlight
The sun may be less available during winter, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t take advantage of its heat. When the sun is up and bright, open your curtain to warm up the room while your heating system is turned off. At night, close your blinds and curtains to trap in some heat in the house. Consider installing blackout curtains, or installing thermal-insulated curtains, to add a layer of insulation on your windows and doors.
Make sure the vents, radiators and other heat sources are not obstructed
Rearranging your furniture and making changes to the layout around your home will not only give your house a fresh feel, but will eliminate obstructions. Large furniture pieces should be placed at least 1-2 metres away from the vents so air can flow freely into the room.
Cut-off or minimise heating in unused rooms
If there are extra rooms in the house where no one uses them (spare bedrooms, the study, extra lounge room) close the doors to these rooms to avoid leaking the heat into them. You can use a draught blocker or even a towel at the base of the door to seal these rooms and ensure no cold air is coming through.
Prevent heat from escaping through doors and windows
Windows and doors can leak heat, making the heating system work even harder and increasing your costs. Make sure to inspect your doors and windows (especially those that lead to the outside) and test them for leaks by feeling for draughts around the perimeter.
Turn on your ceiling fans
Remember that warm air floats on top of cold, dense air. So, make use of your ceiling fans in your room during winter to help circulate the trapped warm air from the ceiling to the floor. Most fans will have a winter and summer setting. By reversing your fan to turn clockwise, air is pulled upward forcing the warm air to travel to the sides on the walls and around the room.
Lifestyle changes to lower heating costs
There are some lifestyle habits you can do to help cut your heating costs.
Stay in one place/room in the house
Consider doing your activities mostly in one place or room in the house. In this way, you can direct warm air through your ducted heating system into this area and cut off the access to unused rooms.
Bake or cook in the house
You won’t just save on your food and meal costs when you cook or bake at home, you can also decrease your heating costs. The heat from your baking and cooking appliances can help warm up your kitchen, and you can cut off this area from your ducted heating system or save the fuel for your gas heaters for other areas.
Home maintenance for lowering heating costs
Here are some home maintenance works to ensure lower fuel or electricity costs on your heating equipment.
Perform an energy audit
A home energy audit will help you understand how you’re currently using the energy around your home in order to find ways to increase your savings. You can perform your own home energy audit, however, you may need to check with the local government website to see what you should be looking for.
Insulate your walls
You can save on your heating costs if your walls and ceilings have the proper insulation that prevents massive heat loss. The type of the building fabric to use as insulation should comply with the energy efficiency recommendations from the Building Code of Australia.
Clean or change your filters
Small particles such as dust and hairs can accumulate on your unit’s filter affect the efficiency of your entire heating system. Make sure to regularly clean the filter and replace it when necessary, especially when you have pets. To ensure your system is working efficiently this should be checked before the peak periods in Summer and Winter.
Have your heating systems regularly serviced
Don’t underestimate the importance of regularly servicing your heating system. If possible or available, sign up for a service agreement of your heating system to ensure getting regular maintenance.. This is also a great way to catch minor problems or repairs before they become problematic.
Replace old heating system
Older heating systems or devices may be less energy efficient and typically only have 70% the efficiency of newer models. If necessary, opt for newer system or models designed that have high energy efficiency.
Contact the professionals for your air conditioning needs.
Ensure that your home heating / heating systems are energy-efficient by contacting Ambience Air. We are Perth’s industry leader in ducted system, evaporative and reverse cycle air conditioning systems. Contact us today for a FREE in-home quote!