Tips to reduce those winter bills
THERE'S no mistaking winter has arrived; the mornings are chilly and the sunlight seems to disappear at a ridiculously early hour.
Apart from the cold, the worst part of the winter months is the shock when we open the power bill.
Things will get even worse this year; NSW electricity prices are set to rise an average 16% from next month.
The hike will add $300 to the average annual power bill, according to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal.
It makes the decision to turn on the heaters and electric blankets a much harder one.
It also makes shopping for new heating appliances a minefield; electricity, gas or wood?
Gas is generally considered the most energy efficient form of heating, but it's not as simple as it sounds.
Unflued gas heaters need quite a lot of ventilation to get rid of combustion fumes, reducing their overall efficiency.
The more expensive, but more efficient flued unit can be a better solution.
Reverse cycle air-conditioning is also a good option, particularly a zoned system that can heat only the rooms being used.
Consumer group CHOICE has a range of tips to help control winter heating costs:
CHOICE said insulation should be the number one priority for every home owner.
Uninsulated ceilings, walls and floors can account for 70% of total heat loss from a home
Insulation will keep the home up to 5 degrees warmer and save up to 55% of heating energy consumption.
CHOICE suggests lighting a candle and walking around the home to find draughty spots.
They suggest using draught stoppers on doors and using insulation strips on windows.
WELL placed windows can offer free heating from the sun.
Opening curtains and blinds on north-facing windows during the day allows the sun to heat the home. Likewise it's essential to close the blinds and curtains once the sun goes down.
Curtains with pelmets can stop about 25% of heat loss from a window.
DRESS FOR THE WEATHER
EVERY 1 degree rise in your thermostat adds 10% to the running costs of your heating appliance, so rugging up can pay big dividends.
DON'T waste energy by heating areas of the house not in use.
Closing doors to unused rooms can save valuable heat for the main living areas.
COOK UP A STORM
WINTER'S the perfect time to bake and roast, the added benefit is the warmth the oven gives off.
PRUNE THE TREES
THE shade was great in summer, but if tree branches are blocking out the warming sun, now is the time to prune.