With the cold weather creeping in across the country and electricity bills set to rise, now is the time to start thinking about the best way to heat your home this winter.
Heating your home can cost a lot of money in energy usage, so CHOICE's experts have put together their top tips on how you can stay warm this winter without breaking the bank.
"Heating costs can cause a significant spike in your electricity bill, but luckily there are lots of easy things you can do around your house to keep the heat in and save money," says Chris Barnes, CHOICE heating expert.
1. Decide which heating option fits your budget best.
"Based on running costs alone, reverse-cycle air conditioning is easily the cheapest way to warm your home. Our estimates show that a reverse-cycle air conditioner will cost only a little more to run for the entire year than an electric heater will cost to run just for three months over winter. The problem with reverse-cycle air conditioners is that they have a big upfront cost," Barnes said.
For those who are renting or can't afford to buy reverse-cycle air conditioning, a portable electric heater is a convenient option. They start about $30 to buy, however they're not energy efficient and CHOICE's lab tests show they can cost a lot to run.
2. Track down and seal draughts.
Sealing off where cold air gets in and warm air escapes is a simple measure you can take. To help you work out where drafts are coming from, Barnes suggesting lighting a candle or incense stick and running it along the gaps under doors and around windows. "A draught will become obvious as the flame flickers or smoke blows around," he said.
Gaps can be sealed off with draught strips from your local hardware store, or a door snake.
3. Close your curtains.
Barnes said up to 40 per cent of heating energy can be lost through a home's windows. Simply closing your curtains can help create an 'air lock' to trap the cold air between the glass and the back of the curtain.
4 Switch your ceiling fans to reverse.
Switch your fans to reverse or winter mode, and use them in combination with your heating system. This will help to spread the hot air more evenly throughout your home, and will make sure that it's not just hanging around the ceiling.
"Our lab tests found that using your ceiling fan in reverse means that your heater has to do far less work - which means lower power consumption, and lower bills," Barnes said.
5. Ask your energy provider for a better deal, or switch to a new one.
"If you've been with the same energy provider for a while, it's always a good idea to call and ask them if they can give you a better deal. You can also compare energy plans using Energy Made Easy or Victorian Energy Compare, depending on what state you're in," Barnes said.
Find more tips here.