How to reduce your heating costs this winter

Clara V.
Clara V.Published on

Temperatures are dropping rapidly and winter is well under way, which means Aussies are turning up the heat to get them through the colder months.

Heating and cooling your home make up around 40% of your power bill. Add into the mix rising energy prices and it’s no wonder Aussies are biting their nails over their next power bill.

We go through how to slash your heating costs this winter so that you can save money and lower your greenhouse gas emissions - all while staying warm and cosy.

A woman warming her hands near a fixed wall electric heater.

1. Choose an energy efficient heater

Energy efficient home appliances typically cost more to buy, but they save you money long term due to their lower running costs.

If you’re a homeowner, consider choosing reverse-cycle air conditioning to heat your home. Although they have a high initial cost, they’re the cheapest heaters to run.

Portable electric heaters are usually the most convenient option for renters. Of all the different electric heaters, oil column heaters are generally the cheapest to run, but not by much.

You can also read our guide on how to choose the most energy efficient electric heater here.

2. Use your heater efficiently

If you use a gas or electric heater, set your heating thermostat between 18°C and 20°C - every 1°C higher than 20°C can add around 10% to your heating costs.

If you use a slow combustion wood heater, ensure that you’re using high quality, well cured wood so that it works as intended.

3. Insulate your home

Insulating your floor, walls, and ceiling helps prevent heat generated by your heater from escaping. It’s estimated that a fully insulated home can save 40-50% in heating costs compared to a home that isn’t insulated, making it pretty much the best thing you can do to lower your energy bill.

Homes with easy access to roof space will likely have a more straightforward insulation installation process. While insulating your home may incur a high initial cost, it will save you money on heating costs in the long run.

4. Compare energy providers

If you’ve been with your provider for a while, give them a call to see if they can give you a better price. It’s also a good idea to check whether your energy provider is giving you the best deal on the market.

Some providers offer a fix-rate plan, which means the rate they charge you for power won’t change for a set period of time, usually 1 or 2 years. This can help protect you from price hikes coming up in the next few months.

Use a comparison tool or read reviews to find the right plan for you

You can use our Energy Provider Comparison Tool to compare plans from Australia’s biggest energy retailers, or you can read reviews of energy providers left by members in our community.

5. Make small changes around the house

There are a few simple things you can do around your home to help lower your heating costs:

  • Shut the doors to rooms that aren’t being used to keep the heat in, and only heat rooms that you spend a lot of time in.
  • Close your blinds and curtains to prevent heat from being lost through your windows. Also consider getting heavy, close-fitting curtains with a box pelmet to minimise heat loss.
  • Turn off your heater at the powerpoint when it's not in use - this can save more power than leaving it on standby.
  • If you have a reverse-direction ceiling fan, turn it on at a low speed while you use your heater to help circulate hot air around your home.
  • Use rugs to cover hard floors.

6. Find and seal draughts in your home

Draught-proofing your home can help prevent warm air from escaping in winter and hot air from getting in during the warmer months.

Here are some tips for finding draughts:

  • Look for obvious gaps, such as light coming through under and around doors and windows.
  • Listen for rattles or whistling during strong winds.
  • Feel around doors, windows, vents, floorboards, air outlets, and skirting for moving air.

In some cases, draught-proofing can be a quick job, while sometimes it may be more complex. You can get self-adhesive draught seal tape, draught arrestors, or a trusty door snake or door sweep to seal draughts.

Small cracks and gaps can be sealed with a caulking gun while expanding foam can help seal larger gaps.

In some cases, draught-proofing can be more complex. Some state governments provide incentives to those who install certain draught-proofing products, so it’s a good idea to check what kind of support is available to you.

7. Regularly maintain your heating system

You should have your heater serviced according to the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure it’s working properly and efficiently. You should service gas heating systems at least every 2 years.

Clean the air filters of your heating system regularly too. These can be found inside the body of an air conditioner or in the return air grille of a ducted system.

8. Claim a tax deducation on heating costs

If you work from home, you might be able to claim a tax deduction on a portion of your heating costs. While this won’t bring down your actual power bill, it can mean that you’ll end up paying less for heating, cooling, and lighting.

Make sure that you keep track of the hours that you work from home, keep records that show that you incurred heating costs during these hours, and use one of the Australian government’s methods to calculate your deduction.

You can read more about this on the ATO website.

If you're having difficulty paying your power bill, ask for help

If you’re struggling to pay your power bill, call your energy provider for assistance and a payment plan. By law, they must offer you a payment plan that you can afford. If you don’t think the one they offer you is suitable, ask them to change it.

You can also ask to go on your provider’s hardship policy, which offers more support and protection than their regular payment plans.

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