Smart advice for heating your home efficiently

June 30, 2015

Heating is usually one of the biggest energy consumers in any house and can represent a major expense. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to heat your home in a cost-effective and eco-friendly way.

Smart advice for heating your home efficiently

Start with the basics

Adopting a few simple habits can help you cut your heating bills substantially.

  • Make sure your home is well insulated. Seal gaps around doors and windows, cover windows with thick curtains, and use pelmets.
  • Use heaters away from windows to avoid unnecessary heat loss.
  • Before turning the heat up, consider putting on another layer of clothing instead.
  • Remember to turn your heat off before you leave the house and to turn it off or down before you go to bed.
  • Close doors between heated and unheated areas to keep the warmth in the area you are heating.
  • Check that your heating appliances are operating efficiently. If in doubt, have them serviced, as they may be using surplus energy.

Choose the right system

When choosing a heating system for your home, look at the amount of space you have to heat and how much, how often and for how long that space needs to be heated. Consider the system's ongoing costs and its environmental impact.

  • If you live in a small apartment and need to heat your home only during the coldest days of winter, a space heater will probably suffice. Choose a portable one so that you can move it from room to room as needed.
  • If you have a number of rooms you need to heat on a regular basis, consider buying an efficient fixed space heater for the living area and portable space heaters for rooms such as bedrooms, which are used less.
  • Central heating may be worth the additional expense only if you need to heat living areas and other rooms for three or more months of the year.
  • Gas heaters are more economical to run and generate lower levels of greenhouse gases than the alternatives. Where gas is not available, a reverse-cycle air conditioner is the next best option.
  • When buying an electric space heater, make sure the heater's output is appropriate for the area you want to warm. Don't buy a large heater for a small room as it will cost more and make the room too warm. Conversely, it's no good trying to heat a large space with a small heater – your costs will soar and you won't even feel warm.
  • To work out the ideal kilowattage, calculate the volume of the area you're heating (height × length × width in metres) and divide the total by 20. Buy a more powerful heater if your room is not well insulated.
  • Look for electric heaters that turn off automatically when they overheat.
  • With portable space heaters, look for systems that will switch themselves off automatically if they are accidentally knocked over.
  • When buying a reverse-cycle air conditioner, opt for one that has a high efficiency rating and a thermostat. Adjustable louvers and a programmable timer are also desirable features. Note that these units may not work at full efficiency in very cold conditions (below 5°C/41°F).

Ensuring that your home is heated efficiently is a great way to save money while having a positive impact on the environment.

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