Joseph Darby, CEO and Financial Adviser at Milestone Direct Limited, shares some tips to help you save money this winter in the first of a two-part series.
Winter is coming. It can be cold, gloomy, and costly. But there are some things you can do to save yourself from some costly spending. Here are a few tips to help save your sanity by saving you some money. The strategies below will help you save energy, money, and stay comfortable during the cooler months. Some of the tips below are free and can be used daily to increase your savings; others are simple and inexpensive actions you can take to ensure maximum savings through the winter.
Keep your home dry
The average Kiwi household produces about eight litres of moisture every day from regular activities, such as showering and cooking. This tends to be a bigger problem in winter, when the wet weather makes our homes even damper. The more moisture that’s in the air, the more expensive it is to heat your home. This means that one of the best ways to heat your home more efficiently over winter is to keep your home dry.
Use extractor fans when cooking or showering
At least once a day, fully open doors, and windows to air out your home and wipe away any condensation that forms on your windows or walls. This includes spare rooms. Avoid drying clothes indoors as this just creates more moisture in the air.
Leave the oven door open after use
After using the oven to bake cookies or make dinner, leave the over door open a little. There’s a lot of heat in that oven, so letting it escape puts the heat to good use by warming up the kitchen and surrounding rooms.
Plastic cover the windows and doors
Cooler temperatures might mean not all exterior doors and windows are used in the winter. Use plastic to cover the windows and doors that go unused to eliminate drafts and keep in the heat. There are window insulating kits for sale at big-box stores such as Bunnings and Mitre 10. Good quality kits can be purchased for as little as $5 per window. Kits for doors or large windows will cost more, and while some building supply stores may stock these, you may have to seek out an online supplier such as Amazon. Some kits come with built-in zippers for occasional use.
Another simple solution rather than purpose made kits or plastic is simply hanging blankets to help insulate your home. The primary downside to this fix is that it can obscure the view and light from windows.
Walking around in shorts and a tank top in the middle of winter doesn’t make much sense – even when you are indoors. If you know you’re home only briefly, including when getting ready for work in the morning, it’ll make more sense to put on a sweater or sweatshirt, wear socks, and fuzzy slippers than get your home fully warmed up.
Equally, it might be nice to place a soft, comfy blanket on the couch and chairs to cuddle up in while you watch TV, read, or chat with friends.
Let in the sun
Open the shades even on chilly days to let natural sunlight warm the rooms in your home. The energy from the sun coming through an average-sized north-facing window is equivalent to running a panel heater in winter.
Seal cracks and holes
You would be surprised at how much heat is lost through cracks that seem insignificant. A tube of silicone or another sealant will only cost you a few dollars, and it’s an easy weekend project.
Install door sweeps
You can also install door sweeps — also called draught guards or draught seals — on the bottom of exterior doors or doors to uninsulated areas such as a garage. This step will lessen the amount of air that escapes through that crack.
Insulate pipes and old water cylinders
Hot water cylinders older than 2003 aren’t insulated very well and should have a cylinder wrap and pipe lagging around the first 1-2 metres of pipe coming out of the cylinder. Your cupboard will still be warm and dry for storing linen and you could save up to $80 a year on energy bills.
You can lose heat from your home or apartment through the floors as well as windows and doors. Put throw rugs on hardwood and tile floors to eliminate the shock of the ice-cold surfaces. Place non-skid pads or runners under the throw rug to keep them from sliding and keep you safe.
Insulate your roof and floor
Many older homes still don’t have roof or underfloor insulation. Even those that do have it can often benefit from covering up the interior of the roof entry with plastic, pieces of insulation, old blankets, weatherstripping, saran wrap, painter drop cloth, or even a few old shirts. Any of it will help slow, if not, stop, the draughts, and warm air from floating away through your roof. Heat rises and maybe getting pulled right up through the ceiling space, so you may not notice a cold draught even though your (expensive!) hot air is floating away. You could also look at installing higher density insulation. This may be a worthwhile energy-saving investment.
The bottom line: making savings this winter
Instead of cutting back we usually encourage investing and growing income as the best ways to get ahead. That said, the events of the last year or so have been tough for many, so staying ready for the unexpected by trimming expenses could be a clever move.