Winter heating on a student budget

Photo by [ d i e g o ] | flickr.com

Photo by [ d i e g o ] | flickr.com

Did you know that heating and cooling comprises of about half of an average home’s energy expenditure? As a student, there are several low-cost things you can do to save money (assuming you pay for your own utilities) and reduce your ecological impact on the environment.

Bubblewrap

Bubblewrap can be bought at postal offices (or check around the house to see if you any lying around) and provide an unconventional but cheap insulation method for windows. Bubblewrap is often used for greenhouses during the winter months and traps heat indoors. It also gives a cool stained glass-esque effect during the day. To set this up, cut out a piece of bubblewrap large enough for your window, wet your window slightly with a cloth or spray bottle and stick the bubblewrap on the window. The water will help it stick to the window until you want to remove it.

Caulk

Cracks and holes in the house can cause significant amounts of heat loss and cause drafts. To prevent this, head over to the hardware store and pick yourself up a caulk gun and a couple cartridges of caulk. Check the label carefully as some of the cheaper caulk brands contain chemicals which can be harmful to your health if inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Use the caulk to seal areas of concern such as holes in the walls, cracks between the walls and the floor and areas near windows.

Area Rugs

Floors can be cold during the winter months, especially those with hardwood or tile. Keep your toes toasty by putting down some area rugs.  Not only are they warm, they can add a touch of colour to any space!

Space Heaters

Ditch central heating or keep it at a minimum. Decreasing your thermostat by 1 degree can reduce fuel needs by as much as 15 percent. So, heat only areas that are used most often with a space heater. When purchasing a space heater, make sure you look for energy saving features such as a built-in thermostat, energy saving setting and a timer. Also look for safety features such as an auto-shut off when it overheats. Some heaters also come with a buzzer that goes off when they are tipped. The safest types of heaters are electric heaters because no method of ventilation is necessary unlike kerosene-burning heaters which require some form of ventilation to let the products of combustion escape. Lastly, be sure to buy one that is appropriate for the size of your room to maximize efficacy.

Electric Blankets/Electric Mattress Pad

These devices usually go between your mattress and your sheets. Turn it on a half-hour before bed, so it’s nice and toasty when you get in to avoid covering yourself in cold blankets. Turn it off after you’re settled in. Blankets act as great insulators and trap body heat, so you should be warm enough from the natural heat your body produces throughout the night, provided that your blankets are adequate enough. Turn off the central heating or space heater and snooze away.

Warm Clothing

Self-explanatory! Put on a sweater and some warm slippers.

Find (Free) Heat Elsewhere!

Lastly, spend more time outside the home for the winter months. Shut off your heat, ditch your house, and go to school, a library or a coffee shop – public spaces which are all heated for free!