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 cosy isn’t just about heating options. Creating a cosy 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 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.