Budget-friendly hacks to stay warm and toasty this winter

You don’t need to crank up the heater to beat the chill. These hot tips will keep you cosy without costing an arm and a leg.

Nobody wants to shiver through winter.

But with power prices soaring, blasting the heater non-stop is not an option.

Fortunately, there are lots of cost-effective ways to stay toasty in the colder months.

Here are some budget-friendly hacks to keep warm this winter.

Set a steady temperature

Heating accounts for up to 40 per cent of your energy bill, so setting your system to the “just right” level of 18-20 degrees can save a lot of money.

“For every degree you turn it up, energy consumption will increase by around 10 per cent,” Matt Genever, Interim CEO of Sustainability Victoria, says.

And remember, hot air rises, so switch your ceiling fan to reverse to push warm air down where you need it most.

Shopping around for energy deals pays off

Canstar editor-at-large Effie Zahos says it pays to check for rebates as the new financial year often kick-starts a fresh round of support.

“For example, Victorian households that use the Energy Compare website to compare their energy deal will get a $250 one-off payment,” Effie says.

Be frugal with your hot water

It may be tempting to stay under a steaming shower until your skin prunes, but be warned: hot water is responsible for about a quarter of your energy bill, so shorter showers and water-saving shower heads are a much cheaper option.

For optimal efficiency, set your thermostat to 60 degrees, or 50 degrees for instantaneous systems.

Seal off all your drafts

Cracks that let the warmth out and the cold in can add 20 per cent to your bill.

Matt says use a candle to find draughts in your floors, skirting boards, and around doors and windows, and plug the drafts with door snakes, adhesive foam, or sealant.

How window coverings keep heat inside

Windows are a major cause of heat loss, and studies show curtains can reduce this by up to 62 per cent.

“A pane of glass can lose almost 10 times as much heat as the same area of insulated wall, so use curtains to keep the warmth in – but don’t forget to open them for free heat when the sun is shining,” Matt says.

Why you need to rug up

It’s cheaper to heat a person than a room, and layering your clothes, wearing thick socks, and donning a scarf will warm you for free.

Use blankets when sitting – or take it to a new level with heated throws and seat pads that only cost a few cents an hour to run.

Create a warm sleep space

Snuggle up with a hot bottle or microwavable heat bag, add an extra blanket, and switch to flannel sheets to beat chilly nights.

At around four cents an hour, electric blankets are cheap to run and you usually only need them for 10-30 minutes before you get into bed.

And don’t underestimate the power of a pair of bed socks – which studies show have the added benefit of helping you fall asleep faster.

Eat warming winter foods

Winter gives you the perfect excuse to indulge in comfort food – and science is on your side.

Studies show that eating complex carbohydrates increases thermogenesis – the process by which cells convert energy into heat.

The active chemical in chillies produces the same reaction, according to a 2008 study.

And caffeine raises your core body temperature, so pop the kettle on.

Written by Dimity Barber.