Making energy-smart choices can reduce winter’s impact on your wallet.
10 free things you can do now
See how many of these top 10 tips your household can adopt.
1. Dress for the season
Put on some warmer clothes before you crank up the heating.
Each additional degree of heating can add between 5% and 10% to your energy use.
2. Shut the door on wasted energy
Heating the entire house can be costly. Shut the door to areas you aren't using (like bathrooms, or the bedrooms during the day). Only heat the rooms you're using and save on energy and cost.
Remember to regularly clean your heaters including the filters, fan blades or vents so they perform at their best.
3. Turn it off
Avoid heating your home unnecessarily. Turn off your heaters before going to bed and when you're leaving the house.
Many appliances continue to draw stand-by power even when switched off. This can account for up to 3% of your total energy costs. Turn off appliances not in use (such as TVs, computers and consoles) at the power point.
4. Use ceiling fans effectively
Reversible ceiling fans can complement your heating by helping to disperse hot air around a room. Warm air rises and collects in a layer just underneath the ceiling.
If your ceiling fan has a reversing switch, use it to circulate warm air throughout the room.
5. Let the sun shine in
Solar panels may not be suitable for every home and budget. But you can still use the free heat from the sun. Open your curtains when the sun is shining and close them before it gets dark.
6. Don't use the shower to warm up
Heating your hot water can account for over 20% of your household energy use. Try to avoid the temptation of using the shower to get warm. Aim for a 4 minute shower.
7. Use a ‘solar’ clothes dryer
Clothes dryers are very convenient—but remember you're paying for this convenience. Try using your clothes dryer less often. Use free energy from the sun and the wind to dry your clothes if you can.
If you don’t have a clothes line you can put clothes racks out in the sun and fresh air. Or you could dry clothes indoors on a rack when the heater is already on.
8. Shop around and switch to save
Don’t assume your current energy provider is offering you the best deal available. Look at government price comparison websites to check which provider has the best rate. You can also contact your current provider to ask them if there’s a better deal they could put you on right away.
Most people can compare electricity and gas offers on the Energy Made Easy website. If you live in Victoria, visit Victorian Energy Compare.
9. Waste not, want not
In Australia we waste a third of the food we buy. Food waste can cost Australian households thousands of dollars a year. This food ends up in landfill where it produces methane, a greenhouse gas that is particularly damaging to the environment.
Much of the food waste comes from poor planning. Use shopping lists. Check your pantry and fridge before heading to the shops.
10. Include active transport choices
Swapping short car trips for walking or cycling can save money. It can also keep you fit during the winter months. You’ll save on petrol, maintenance and potentially the upfront cost of buying a car (or a second car).
5 cost-effective things you can do this winter
1. Keep the heat you're paying for inside your home
Draught-proofing is one of the cheapest ways to keep your home warm and can save you up to 25% on your heating bills.
To prevent heat loss, seal off gaps like those around windows and doors, and at flooring-to-wall junctions.
Install weather seals around doors and install draught stoppers on exhaust fans. Internal doors can also benefit from weather seals when closing off rooms you're not heating, such as laundries and bathrooms.
2. Windows of opportunity
As much as 40% of a home’s heating energy can be lost through the windows.
Investing in quality curtains and blinds can make a surprising difference to your home’s warmth. Look for fabrics that insulate well, or curtains with thermal lining.
Fitted pelmets (curtain boxes) above curtains also reduce heat loss. A low-cost option could be to fit a strip of light timber across your curtain rail. Alternatively, you could hang curtains from the ceiling to the floor.
Thermal film or secondary glass panels added to existing window fittings are a cheaper alternative to double-glazing.
3. Set your thermostat
You can save money by having a programmable thermostat. Keep the internal temperature of your heating set to between 18°C and 20°C.
Every degree you increase your heating can add up to 10% on your energy use.
Set your thermostat to warm your house for times you need it. Turn it off overnight and when you’re away from home.
4. Install a water-efficient showerhead
Heating water accounts for a large chunk of your energy bill. A water-efficient showerhead is one of the most cost-effective ways to save water use. They are also quite easy to install.
5. Insulate your roof
Save 45% or more on your heating costs by installing roof and ceiling insulation.
Stop heat escaping from your home by installing or topping up insulation. Ceiling insulation can reduce your home’s winter heat loss by 25 to 35%.
Talk to an expert to find out what's best for your home and its climate. It's important to safely install insulation that meets Australian standards.
5 longer term investments to consider
1. Insulate floors and walls, and rug-up floors
You could be losing up to 25% of your heat through your walls, and a further 20% through your floor.
Households typically save around 15% on heating and cooling bills if the walls are insulated.
Get expert advice when looking into wall and underfloor insulation.
Warm rugs and thick carpet underfoot can also make a difference to comfort levels.
2. Double glaze windows
Double glazing could be an option to explore if you have money to invest in improvements. Double glazing can be especially useful for windows that you can't easily cover with insulating blinds or curtains.
Lower cost options for windows include secondary glazing panels or laminating products that you can attach to your existing windows. This will also make a noticeable difference to your comfort levels.
Do some research to help you choose a builder or window supplier who understands your needs.
3. Install solar power
Solar power systems will help reduce your electricity bills as well as your impact on the environment. They are low-maintenance and can also increase the value of your home.
Solar power can be connected to the mains electricity grid. It can also be set up as a stand-alone system where electricity is stored in batteries.
If you install a solar power system at home, you could receive incentives called Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs). You may also be able to sell the excess electricity you generate to electricity suppliers under a feed-in tariff.
4. Install batteries
Batteries store energy for later use, and can be a significant part of renewable energy systems (for example, solar photovoltaic (PV) or wind).
Batteries can reduce your dependence on the grid, and give you more control over your energy use.
Consider the payback term involved (outlay vs energy savings) before committing to a battery set-up.
Read more about solar pv and batteries.
5. Be energy-efficient when you buy, build or renovate
Buying, building and renovating is an exciting time but it can also be complex and stressful with lots of decisions to make.
You will need to consider the design of the home or extension. Choose how you insulate, heat and cool your spaces. Purchase energy-efficient appliances. Your choices can improve comfort levels and cut your heating, cooling and water costs for many years to come.
There are many experts who can give you advice on home energy efficiency and help with your planning. Smart decisions early on in the design process can make the most difference over the longer term.
Be fire ready
A fire can take hold in 3 minutes, yet it only takes seconds to prevent one.
- Ensure smoke alarms are working. If not, change the batteries or replace the alarm.
- Having a home escape plan in conjunction with a working smoke alarm will greatly increase your chances of getting out safely.
- Clean leaf litter and debris from your roof and gutters, and trim trees and other vegetation in close vicinity of the house.
- Ensure your flues and chimneys are regularly cleaned. Place a fire screen in front of open fires.
- Keep everything at least a metre from the heater.
- Folding your electric blanket can cause damage. Always roll it for storage, and check for any damage before use.
See the NSW Government’s Winter Fire Safety Checklist to help prepare you, your family and your home for a safe winter.
A tidy-up to maintain your home's exterior and the health of your garden is a good idea no matter the time of year. Peak fire season varies depending on where you live in Australia. Check with the Bureau of Meteorology to find out when the fire risk is highest in your area.
Rebates and assistance - Find out what support is available in your state or territory.
Your Home Australian Government - Read about how to make your home more sustainable and energy-efficient.