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YOU’RE GETTING WARMER…

The weather has cooled right down and many of us are looking for the perfect way to keep warm. And it’s not just a matter of comfort when it comes to staying toasty – keeping warm is key to keeping your immune system fighting strong, so heating requires serious consideration, especially as we age.

There are so many options when it comes to heating your home and they each come with pros and cons – cost being the biggest consideration. EnergyAid’s Anne Armansin has spent more than 20 years in the appliance and energy industries including managing Energex’s “energyinstitute”, a home energy advisory service servicing one million households in South-East Queensland. So she knows a thing or two about the best way to keep your home warm while also keeping costs down.

“It’s easy to just reach over and turn the heating up,” Anne says. “While that’s fine a few times, it’s easy to forget about the impact that will eventually have on your next power bill.”

For Queenslanders using a heater for about five hours a day, for example, Anne explains that the running costs can vary greatly depending on the heat source:

  • Heated throw rug (purchase price approx. $69) at 150 watts costs about $0.18 per day = $1.30 a week to run
  • A five-fin oil heater (purchase price approx. $45) at 1000 watts costs about $1.20 per day = $8.40 per week
  • A fan heater (purchase price approx. $49) at about 2300 watts costs about $2.76 per day = $19.30 per week
  • An 11-fin oil heater (purchase price approx. $99) at about 2400 watts costs about $2.88 per day = $20.20 per week.

Many believe air conditioners are an expensive household appliance to run. However, did you know a reverse-cycle air conditioning unit can be less than half the cost to run compared to a small, portable, electric fan heater?
Anne encourages consumers not to be swayed by the seemingly cheap purchase price of a heater – check the compliance plate of all new appliances to see how much power they use before you commit to the purchase and, beyond that, “make
some house rules for how often you’ll use the heaters, and try to stick to it,” she says.

The key to any heating plan is making sure your home is sealed from any cold wintry drafts that might blow in. Ensure all your doors and windows are closed tightly. One of the best investments you may make this winter is a cheap ‘door snake’ that, when placed along the bottom edge of your door, blocks any cold air from entering under it. And don’t forget to close your curtains and/or blinds once the sun starts to set, to keep the glass insulated.

Your bedroom (and your bed) is where you might also feel the cold the most. Ensure you are using flannelette sheets in the wintertime and that you have swapped your lighter summer doona for a heavier winter version. Pull out your electric blanket
(just remember that you should only use an electric blanket to heat your bed before you get into it – once you retire for the night, your blanket should be switched off). And don’t forget that a good old fashioned hot water bottle can also be a nugget of
(warm) gold on a cold night.

Beyond all this, make sure you are suitably rugged up for winter. If you don’t like the feel of layers and layers of bulky jumpers, look for thin thermal undergarments. Keep socks on your feet. Add a trendy scarf to your ensemble.

“Remember it’s almost always cheaper to warm yourself than the whole room,” Anne says.