Part of the cost of living crisis that none of us has been able to escape from has been the dramatic rise in energy bills that have led many to question how they’ll be able to heat their homes effectively without breaking the bank this winter.
We’ve put together a few ideas for how you can keep your house warm during the cold winter months, but these should not be taken as viable alternatives to central heating or other heating methods and ideally, should be used in conjunction.
If you feel that you genuinely cannot afford to put on your heating this winter, you should contact Citizens Information and they’ll be happy to go through your options with you.
We know that when the cold temperature arrives, it can be tempting to simply stick the heating on and be done with it. While this might provide you with a comfortable cosy home at all times, you’ll be in for a shock this winter when your electricity and gas bills arrive.
With wholesale gas prices increasing by a staggering 700%, much of that cost has been passed on to the consumer. So while in the past you may have been able to have the heating on all the time, things might be a little different now.
Using your heating more economically will certainly make a difference. If families are away during the day, either at work or at school, there’s no reason that your heating needs to be blazing away at home. Practically every home comes with a timer these days, so why not simply set it so that the heating comes on an hour before everybody gets up and then an hour before everybody gets home?
You’ll also find that you might not need to run the heating throughout the night, especially if your home has already nicely warmed up. And anyway, it’s much better to sleep in a slightly cool room than in a stuffy, artificially heated one.
2. The multi-tasking oven
After you're finished baking or grilling your dinner, leave the oven door open and allow the heat to travel through your kitchen. The warm air will keep the kitchen nice and toasty and it’s a great way of utilising the energy you have already paid for.
It’s also a great excuse to cook yourself a nice hearty dish that needs high-temperature cooking. Why not try a chicken roast dinner? It’s a perfect winter-warmer dish and will leave you with enough heat in the kitchen to last through the evening.
3. Out-smart your radiator
An old trick that seems to have been passed down from generation to generation. If you line the back of your radiator with tinfoil it will reflect the heat back into the room rather than floating toward the ceiling. You can get a specific radiator reflective foil but regular kitchen foil will give you the same results.
4. Dress Warmly
OK, this one might conjure images of people wrapped in blankets as they desperately try to warm themselves over a fire built from the few remaining pieces of wooden furniture in the home, but things needn’t become quite that dramatic.
Dressing appropriately for the weather, even inside your home, makes perfect sense. If it’s hovering around 0℃ out, but you insist on wearing shorts, a t-shirt, and a pair of flip-flops, you are obviously going to feel cold and will no doubt look to unleash that central heating to make up for it.
In this case, it makes sense to start by putting more layers on while you’re in the house, and if you’re still cold, you can take action from there.
5. Seal the nooks and crannies
More often than not, chilly drafts creep in through the gaps between your floor and the bottom of the door. A simple way to avoid this is to place a door stopper where the draft is coming through, effectively sealing the room. You’ll never be able to get it perfect, especially with older properties that tend to leak warmth, but you’ll certainly notice the difference.
These are both cost-effective and excellent at keeping out cold drafts. You could also look at sealing your window frames with caulk which means there will be no room for cold air to seep in. Caulk is inexpensive and you can find it at your local hardware store.
6. Let the steam out
If you’re having a hot shower or a nice bath (and your circumstances allow it), leave the bathroom door open and let the steam travel through the rest of your house. This will not only leave the other rooms a bit warmer but will also stop your mirrors and windows from fogging up.
7. Don’t forget about the pipes
While all of the above are great during the hours when you have your heating switched off, remember that it is a good idea to turn your heating on for at least an hour in the morning and if possible again in the evening. This will keep your pipes from freezing
8. An old favourite
While we have complete confidence in the above tips, there is a lot to be said for the old favourite, the trustee hot water bottle. Filling your hot water bottle and leaving it in your bed for twenty minutes before you get in is the most underrated heating system that ever was. It will keep your toes snug all night long.
9. And finally….
Our final point has nothing to do with keeping your house warm, but rather with what we can do to keep our bodies healthy (and warm) throughout the bleakest months.
We know that once daylight in Ireland goes down to around 30 minutes per day (of course it’s a little longer than that, but doesn’t it usually feel like that?) It gets harder and harder to motivate ourselves to go outside, let alone do some exercise.
However, staying healthy and doing your best to get a little exercise whenever you can, can have a profound impact on how you feel during the winter months, and indeed how warm you feel. Simply going for a brisk walk around the block is enough to raise your core temperature and that can make a huge difference to how you feel when you get home.
Diet should be another area that you pay close attention to in winter. It can be easy to simply go for unhealthy treats that make you feel better in the short term, but the human body needs to keep its immune system up during cold months, especially as this is when colds and cases of flu are most prevalent.
Make sure you’re consuming the right amount of protein, which helps to maintain your muscle mass, while also focusing on fruits and vegetables (as always) which are invaluable sources of minerals and vitamins that the body craves during winter.
10. Home Insurance
It’s no coincidence that many of the worst accidents that can occur in and around the house tend to come up during winter. With weather patterns becoming increasingly erratic and temperatures sometimes plummeting, accidents like burst pipes can have a devastating effect. Home insurance with 123.ie covers your home for a wide variety of circumstances, including those expensive clean-up fees for escape of oil, and acts as peace of mind just in case the worst comes to pass.