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Winter

5 longer term investments to consider

Feet in striped socks on a warm rug

©iStockphoto.com

  1. Insulate floors and walls, and rug up floors

    Insulated floors and walls will save you on your winter heating bills and also make your home cooler in the hot months. You could be saving up to 25% of your heating and cooling loss if you insulate your walls. Floor insulation can save you up to 20%.

    Most cavity brick walls can be retrofitted with wall insulation, as can brick veneer, reverse brick veneer and timber framed walls, sometimes the lining or cladding doesn't even need to be removed. Get expert advice when looking into wall and underfloor insulation because electrical and plumbing fixtures, as well as the best type of insulation need to be considered.

    Warm rugs and thick carpet underfoot will also make a difference to how soon your household reaches for the thermostat. Just like when you're wearing your fluffy slippers, warm floor furnishings will make a big difference to how warm you feel in your home.

    Put thick rugs where you spend time standing, especially if this is on a cold, hard surface. Placing rugs where you do the washing up and brush your teeth is a good start to keeping your toes warmer

    With a warm body and snug feet, you'll hold off turning up the heating a lot longer and start saving money a lot sooner.

  2. Double glaze windows

    Once we know that a square meter of unglazed ordinary glass can let out as much heat as a single bar radiator heater can produce, we know it's time to think window efficiency.

    If you've got extra money to invest in making your home more efficient and more comfortable, then laminating or double glazing windows could be for you. Double glazing can be especially useful for windows that can't easily be covered with insulating blinds or curtains.

    Lower cost options for windows include laminating products that you can attach to your existing windows. This option and the curtain ideas listed above will all make a noticeable difference to your comfort levels. The difference with double glazing is that your heating and cooling could be greatly reduced, and for some homes, never needed again!

    If you're looking into double glazing, make sure you build up your knowledge of the ins and outs of double glazing. This will help you to choose a builder or window supplier who knows what they're selling.

  3. Reconsidering your second car

    Are you thinking about buying a second car? Perhaps you've done the sums and are considering the benefits of getting rid of an unnecessary second car.

    If you can do without a second car you're likely to save thousands of dollars each year on registration, insurance, loans and running costs. The money you save by not buying a second car can cover occasional trips by taxi when you needed a second vehicle.

    Even if you have a car, you don't have to use it all the time—using people power (like walking and cycling) is good for your wallet, good for your health and good for the environment.

    If you decide to buy a new car or a second car, choosing a fuel-efficient car is a good financial decision that can save you thousands of dollars in fuel costs. It will also reduce the pollution generated as you drive it.

    All new light motor vehicles (cars, four-wheel drives and light commercial vehicles) sold in Australia have to display a Fuel Consumption Label. The label is designed to help you make better choices about the running costs and environmental impacts of your new car. Fuel consumption information is also available for many cars made before 2004.

  4. Install solar power

    Solar power panels on the roof of an old terrace house

    ©iStockphoto.com

    Installing a solar (photovoltaic or PV) power system is a great way of capturing the sun's energy to generate electricity at home.

    Once your system is installed, it will help reduce your electricity bills as well as your impact on the environment. Solar power systems are low-maintenance and can also increase the value of your home.

    Solar power can be connected to the mains electricity grid or set up as a stand-alone system where the electricity is stored in batteries.

    If you install a solar power system at home, you could be eligible to receive renewable power incentives in the form of Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs). You may also be able to sell the electricity you generate to electricity suppliers under a feed-in tariff.

  5. Be energy efficient when you buy, build or renovate

    Finally, if you're buying a home or building or renovating consider increasing your energy efficiency.

    Building and renovating is an exciting time but it can also be complicated and stressful with all sorts of decisions to make. These include decisions about the design of the home or extension, heating and cooling options, insulation, effective easy-living outdoor areas, and which appliances are the most energy efficient. Your choices can improve not only your comfort but can also cut your heating, cooling and water costs for many years to come.

    There are many experts who can give you advice on home energy efficiency and help with your planning which can save you money and bother over the longer term. 

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