Keep warm without breaking your budget

During the colder months households generally tend to use a lot more energy and resources trying to stay warm and often have to pay the associated costs. However, whether homeowners are hoping to ease some of their impact on the environment or just want to save some money, there are ways that they can reduce their energy usage while still keeping the elements at bay, says Adrian Goslett, CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.

He notes that essentially saving on energy usage is cutting down on electricity usage. “Finding ways of conserving electricity will lower the winter monthly expenses,” says Goslett, “This may require an initial marginal investment on the homeowner’s part in improving the home’s energy efficiency, however the financial benefits will far outweigh the initial cost in the long term.”

Goslett provides homeowners with the following energy-saving tips:

Make sure that home is properly insulated

“If homeowners are spending money to warm up their homes, the last thing they need is for the heat to be able to escape and be wasted. While windows that don’t close properly are a potential problem that should be addressed, because warm air rises, a large portion of the heat escapes through the ceiling. Approximately 50% to 80% of the homes’ heat will dissipate through a poorly insulated ceiling. Proper insulation in the ceiling can reduce heat loss to just 3%,” says Goslett.

He notes that ceiling insulation should be the only insulation required considering our South African climate; however it is still vital to check whether there are other areas in the home that may require some attention. 

Use the sun

The sun is a great source of free heat and should be the primary focus of temperature control in the home throughout the year. Goslett says that just by keeping curtains open during the day can bring a lot of heat into the home and the best part is that it doesn’t cost a cent. He notes that closing the curtains or blinds when the sun goes down will assist in keeping the heat inside and maintaining the warmth.

Geyser regulation

There is nothing better than a hot shower or bath during winter, but the geyser is the most energy-hungry appliance in a home. The geyser is responsible for approximately 40% of a home’s monthly electricity usage. Goslett says that a simple but highly effective way of saving on costs is by turning the geyser off during the day when it is not needed. “The geyser can be switched on for certain hours each day to allow for it to be heated when necessary. Adding a geyser blanket will also help the geyser to retain the heat of the water for far longer so less heating time is required,” advises Goslett. “If the homeowner is prepared to invest in an automated thermostat, this could also reduce costs by digitally regulating the temperature and controlling how long the geyser stays on for.”

He adds that alternative methods of heating water can be explored such as the installation of solar panelling; however again this may mean an initial outlay but will save a lot of money over the long term.

Only heat the rooms in use

According to Goslett a lot of energy is wasted on heating areas in the homes that are not in use, such as guest rooms. “Close doors to rooms that are not in use and redirect the heat and flow of the air to the regions of the home that require it. It is far quicker and easier to heat up a smaller space, so energy usage can be vastly reduced by focusing the heat in specific rooms,” says Goslett.

Add an extra layer

Possibly the easiest way to stay warm without adding any expense or energy usage is by adding an extra layer of clothing. Goslett says that instead of pulling out the heater or adjusting the home’s heating, why not put on a cosy winter jersey and some winter socks. A rug will add insulation to the floor and colourful throw blankets on the couch will help keep homeowners warm while adding to their décor. Also consider investing in winter bedding such as flannel sheets and a warm comforter for the bed before opting for an electric blanket during these cold winter nights.

Energy-efficient light bulbs

Most homeowners may have already changed the light bulbs in their houses to compact florescent light bulbs (CFL) or light-emitting diodes (LED) light bulbs - if not then now is time to do it. Either of these options can reduce costs as they use at least 75% less energy than the traditional incandescent bulb and can last a lot longer. “Certain energy-efficient light bulbs have been known to last as long as 35 times longer than a regular bulb. This will help homeowners to save on energy costs as well as the costs of replacing bulbs more frequently,” says Goslett.

He notes that while the energy-efficient bulbs omit the same amount of light as a regular bulb, they use less wattage to do so, which means they don’t get hot and can stay on for longer periods.  For this reason, they are particularly effective in area where lights are kept on for longer than three hours. Creating less heat also means that energy efficient bulbs reduce the household pollutant output in the environment.

Add moisture to the air

During the winter months the air inside a home can often become dry. Goslett says that moist air not only feels warmer but also retains heat far better as well. “Adding a humidifier to a room can help the occupants feel warmer and more comfortable during the colder months. A collection of house plants is also another way of increasing a home’s humidity, without using any energy at all.”

The rising cost of electricity and worldwide depletion of resources has made many more homeowners conscience of energy efficiency.  Goslett concludes that following these energy-saving tips can assist homeowners to curb their monthly winter costs while also partially eliminating their home’s impact on the environment.  

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