Conserve heat to reduce energy bills in winter

Thursday, 23 May 2013

It is possible to save hundreds of dollars on energy bills during winter by making simple lifestyle changes, according to a University of Adelaide architecture researcher.

Associate Professor Veronica Soebarto, from the School of Architecture and Built Environment, says everyone can reduce their reliance on heating by finding ways to conserve heat.

"Heat can escape through small cracks and openings, so seal any cracks you see around your house before winter. Heat also escapes under doors, so close the gap with a door snake or something similar," she says.

"Identify windows that face the sun during the day and remove any obstructions that may prevent solar heat penetrating your house. This doesn't mean cutting down trees, simply removing hanging objects and shades can make a difference. At night time, close internal shades to reduce heat loss through window glazing."

For those looking at purchasing a new heater this winter, Associate Professor Soebarto suggests to not just look at the initial cost of the heater, but also think of the operating expenses.

"While convection and oil-column heaters are inexpensive to buy, they are costly to run. If you use a 2-kW oil-column heater to heat a normal-sized bedroom, and run it constantly all night, you could pay about $5 per night or $150 per month," she says.

"Even if the heater only runs for 15 minutes every hour, you would still pay $30-$40 per month, just for one bedroom.

"If you buy an electric heater, the key is to check its wattage which is usually written on the power plate somewhere on the heater. Multiply it by the approximate number of hours you would use the heater per day, and then multiply that figure by the unit price of electricity which is on the back of your electricity bill. This calculation will give you an approximate figure of how much it will cost to run your heater during winter."

Associate Professor Soebarto says energy consumption can also be cut by making changes to behaviour and the way appliances are used.

"In winter we often want hot drinks and have longer hot showers. Don't fill up your electric kettle for just one cup of tea - only fill it as necessary. And, why not purchase a timer to help reduce the length of your showers," she says. "Since it gets dark earlier during winter we tend to spend more time watching TV. Install power-down power controller systems, which automatically turn off all the appliances which are plugged into it when you turn off your TV. Also make sure you turn off all your lights when you leave a room.

"There is a wide variety of improvements you can make to your home to reduce your energy consumption, however, without changing your behaviour it is likely your savings will not be optimum," she says.


Contact Details

Professor Veronica Soebarto
School of Architecture and Built Environment
Business: 8313 5695
Mobile: 0405 148 466

Media Team
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 0814