I’m a big believer in going green. I still have lots of room for improvement, but I try to do little things around the house that make a difference. I recycle all our paper and cardboard (despite the fact that it requires taking a trip to the local bring centre which is a ten minute drive away), I turn off lights and electronic equipment when I’m done, I buy appliances that have high energy ratings, and…
I try to conserve as much heat as possible. Here’s how I do it, and how you can too:
1. The first thing is to know your aspects. What that means is knowing which part of your home, if any, gets sunlight, and which is cast in shadow or open to high winds (like, for example, if you live on a height or beside the sea). In our home, the sun rises on the side the kitchen is on, and sets on the side the sitting room is on. Now all you have to do is work that to your advantage! For example, I always leave the kitchen blinds open at night, or open them before the sun rises, so that the natural heat can get in. I then spend a lot of time in there in the morning, before moving to the sitting room later on to take advantage of the beautiful evening sun. So if the front of your house gets most of the sun, don’t spend all day sitting in a back room.
2. Make sure you have good quality curtains and blinds. I know unlined curtains are the cheaper option but, trust me, you’ll lose that money many times over through your heating bills! If you can’t afford lined curtains, or the ones you already have are unlined, consider buying some cheap fabric and lining them yourself. You don’t have to be too much of a sewing whizz to attach a lining, and the extra layer will make all the difference. Once a room is warm enough, close those curtains to keep the heat in!
3. As well as curtains and blinds, remember to keep doors closed too! Our front door isn’t the best at keeping out draughts (and buying a new one is way down the list of priorities right now) so I just make sure to keep the doors to all the rooms closed to stop that cold air from sweeping through the whole house. And what’s the point in having a warm room if you’re just going to leave the door open so all the heat can escape to rooms that aren’t in use? If your doors aren’t great, use draught-excluders.
Sometimes, though, rooms just get cold. This is when my husband would automatically reach for the heating switch, or would go about building a fire. But here’s the thing:
4. I just put on an extra jumper. Simple, but effective. I have a chunky cardigan that I keep on standby, as well as fleecy socks. Along the same lines, I also have two throws for the sofa that I can quickly and easily wrap around me. As with the curtains, the extra layer makes all the difference.
5. Failing that, why not just get up and move about a bit? Get that blood pumping. Climb the stairs and collect the dirty laundry. Get out the vacuum cleaner and give the rooms a quick going over. Go outside and beat that dusty rug. Even do a few jumping jacks! Or…
6. Go make yourself a hot meal or drink. It can be anything from soup to hot chocolate to tea to a full-on four-course dinner.
OK, so you’ve tried everything – you’ve got two jumpers and four pairs of socks on, you’ve done a hundred jumping jacks, you’ve tucked into a hot bowl of soup – but you can still see your breath in front of your face. It’s time to turn on the heating!
7. Get as efficient a heating system as you can afford. If you can get solar panels or pellet stoves (my parents have both – there are government grants available), go for it. Or make the system you already have as effective as possible. For wall-mounted heaters and radiators, install a reflective surface on the wall behind it so that heat gets bounced back into the room and not soaked up by the cold walls. And, if under a window, close the curtains or blinds to prevent it all disappearing that way. And, because heat rises, installing a shelf above a radiator (not too close – you don’t want it to burn) will help to curl the heat out into the room quicker rather than the longer length of time it takes to reach the ceiling before eventually having nowhere else to go but down to your cold toes.
8. If you have an open fire, consider burning some of the waste that would normally end up in your bin and, eventually, a landfill. (Make sure to check if it’s safe to burn first – electrical equipment, batteries, chemicals, etc. are an obvious no-no.) We’re currently burning an old chest of drawers. We were going to get rid of it anyway because some of the drawers were broken, so we’ve just re-purposed it into free fuel!
9. If your heating system allows, get yourself a timer! I don’t know how many times I made the mistake of switching on the heating “for a few minutes” and then getting completely immersed in something and only remembering when the sweat started to bead on my forehead. Timers eliminate forgetfulness, or “I’ll get up and switch it off as soon as I’m finished watching the end of this film” syndrome.
10. And, finally, turn down your thermostat. Turning it down by just one degree will, no doubt, go completely unnoticed by you and your family… until you see the savings on your heating bill, of course!
Small adjustments like the ones above add up to BIG savings over time, particularly as heat is usually the most expensive utility. See which ones work for you. I don’t for one second advocate that you should be on the point of hypothermia before resorting to the heater, but try to see it as a last resort when all your other efforts have failed. Your body is, in normal circumstances, designed to regulate its own temperature. Let it try do its job properly before you intervene.
What other tips do you have for saving on your heating bills? I’d love to hear them, so leave them in the comments section below!