How to save money: Heating your home this winter

Winter is approaching and so are heating bills.

Winter is approaching and so are heating bills. Photo: Getty

Winter is fast approaching and the weather is already getting colder, meaning Australians are going to need to start paying to keep their homes warm.

It’s an expensive proposition for many, especially amid broader cost-of-living pressures and electricity prices that have only just begun to come off the boil after years of utility bill pain.

There are ways to save money on heating, though, particularly if you’re willing to invest some time into finding the best electricity deal in your area and make some changes around your home too.

Here are some tips for cutting those pesky heating bills this winter.

Electricity deals

One half of saving money on electricity is paying less for the energy you use to begin with.

There are a few ways to do this, ranging from ensuring you are getting the best deal available to investing in technologies like solar panels to reduce your reliance on the electricity grid.

Getting a better deal won’t cost you anything upfront, and according to recent analysis by the St Vincent de Paul Society could save you hundreds of dollars a year in some states.

The key is to ensure that you’re not currently languishing on a default market offer – a regulated price that acts as a de-facto ceiling on the market.

Default offers are, by definition, more expensive than most market deals available to those who shop around, so if you’re on one you’ll want to make the switch as soon as possible.

Even Australians on market deals that haven’t checked in on their plan in some time could stand to save by switching, particularly because prices have begun easing more recently.

  • Using a default offer? You’re likely paying hundreds a year more than you need to
  • Energy Made Easy, a government comparison service, will help you find the best deal for electricity in your area. Victorians have their own version of the service here
  • Electricity prices are now falling, so check your plan regularly to maximise savings.

Invest in your home

If you own your home and have some savings available, investing in solar panels and electric appliances could be the best way to cut back on heating bills over the longer term.

This comes with an upfront cost, but it can drastically reduce or even eliminate your utility bills, even throughout winter months when there are fewer hours when the Sun is around.

Savings can be amplified by combining solar with electric heaters and hot water systems rather than gas-based appliances.

  • Electrification is an investment, but a range of subsidies are available to help with the upfront costs and get your new systems paying themselves off much sooner
  • The Climate Council has a handy calculator to help you work out how much you could save over time by electrifying, and what the upfront costs might look like.

Retain the heat

The other plank of effective winter heating is doing what you can to ensure your home retains as much heat as possible.

There are myriad options from cheap wins like buying snakes for your exterior doors to installing some thicker curtains or rugs throughout any uncarpeted living spaces.

More expensive options include getting your ceiling insulation checked by a professional and getting fresh cladding installed where needed or having your windows double-glazed.

  • If you have access to a thermal camera, try scanning your house on a cold day to see where your property is losing heat, and then focus your attention on reducing that
  • Roofs are key – about a third of the heat in a typical house is lost through the roof because heat rises, so taking steps to ensure good insulation is a money saver
  • Is your heater fit for purpose? Not all of them are made equal. Check out this guide for some advice about what makes a good heater and how to avoid energy chuggers.
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