When the weather starts to cool down, we appreciate the comforts of home more than ever. When it feels like a gale is blowing in straight from Antarctica, there’s something extra-special about being inside, in nice, cozy, warm surrounds. Creating a home you’ll love returning to at the end of each day is easy, with a few alterations to your routine to compensate for the cooler weather.
5 practical tips to save on your electricity bill
It is estimated that households now have on average up to 70 electric devices, with as much as 40 percent of all electricity being used when the products are turned off or in standby mode.
Unplug appliances at the source - if you’re not going to be using an appliance for more than 30 minutes, unplugging it at the source is the surest and most cost-effective solution.
Plug appliances into a power board - using a power board means you can easily switch off a number of appliances when you’re leaving the house while sleeping, or going on holiday.
Consider investing in FutureSwitch clever plugs - these sit between your appliances and the mains socket and are controlled by a wireless remote for the convenient shutdown of power to all devices. They are easy to install (no electrician required) and easy to operate
Select energy efficient appliances - large models use more energy than smaller ones with the same star rating. The energy label will provide information about the kWh (units of electricity) dispensed yearly. Select appliances that are the right size for you.
Plug cube-shaped transformers into a power board - power transformers such as those found on phone chargers, electronics and computers use a lot of standby power when plugged into the wall; instead, plug them into power boards that can be switched off.
Tips to save on heating
Sorting out your heating is obviously the most significant factor in creating a comfortable indoor environment in winter, and there are many great ideas within these pages. But heating your home can come with costly energy bills, so there are a few things to consider.
If you use an air-conditioner, you can save a significant amount of power by dropping the thermostat a degree or two. Nobody expects you to wear a beanie and scarf inside, but if it’s getting a bit cool, put on a jumper or a vest or pull a quilt or throw over you before rushing to heat the room. While you’re feeling frugal, if you have a wood-burning fire, why not save energy by foregoing the clothes dryer this year and drying your clothes with heat from the fire instead?
It’s also important to stop heat escaping. Insulation is paramount here, but you can help the process by drawing curtains so heat can’t escape, and closing doors to rooms that aren’t being used. Stop draughts with old-fashioned sand-filled snake draught stoppers and avoid using exhaust fans that suck the warm air out of the room. Ceiling fans set to “winter” push air back down, helping the warm air circulate.
If you’re looking at installing new heating, remember to consult the experts before making any expensive decisions. There are many things to consider before installing heating, such as whether you’d prefer air-conditioning or a fireplace and whether to choose gas, electricity or wood burning. The size and shape of the area you intend to heat also needs to be considered, and experts can offer the most energy-efficient option that’ll work in the space you’re trying to heat.
Tips to create winter warm decor
Staying warm and cozy isn’t just about heating options. Creating a cozy and comfortable environment at home can help keep the winter blues away.
Ironically, when it’s grey and muddy outside, many of us turn to neutral winter decorating schemes. But using browns and greys inside when it’s like that outside can be depressing. Instead, imagine how you feel when you see someone sporting a rainbow-hued scarf or beanie on a chilly day. A splash of vibrant colour in your decorating (be it cushions or a quilt) can be just as invigorating.
With the current trend towards crocheting and knitting, now’s the time to whip out some vibrant yarns and create a colourful throw, or pull nanna’s crocheted granny-square afghan out of storage and put it over the sofa. Use rich, textured fabrics such as knits, felt, flannel, fake furs and chenilles in your winter decorating to bring a cosiness to your home that can’t be achieved with cool cotton.
As usual, accessories are important and you can make a statement with items such as a group of candles or indoor plants (lovely touch of greenery when trees are bare outside). Just make sure you have enough room to put your book and a hot drink on the coffee table.
The simple addition of a few quilts and some extra cushions on the sofa encourages the family to snuggle up together (which means you only have to heat one room at a time!). When it’s too cold to venture out, create quality time at home with yummy treats, DVDs, video games, jigsaw puzzles and board games. The shorter days lend themselves to spending time at home as a family.
Tips to stay healthy
It can be tempting to let your health and beauty routines lapse when there’s no skin on show, but taking care of yourself all year round prevents panic when the weather warms up. Care for your skin, which can dry out in artificial heat, with plenty of moisturiser. Keep a bowl of water in a room with a heater so the water evaporates into the air.
Warming stews, soups, and casseroles make perfect winter fare, but remember to bulk them out with vegetables and beans. Trade chocolate and cream desserts for fresh or tinned fruit; there may not be the wonderful selection we have in summer, but there are still many delicious cooked dessert options that aren’t too unhealthy.
While it’s tempting to forget the exercise when it’s too cold or wet outside, you can still exercise at home. Invest in a few exercise DVDs, consult the internet for exercise routines or borrow the kids’ Wii and get fit that way. On the plus side, you’ll be less likely to use the heater if you’re sweating.
A few simple changes around the home can turn it into the haven you need to escape from the chill outside.