Heating season Energy-saving tips for winter

Radiators are a household’s biggest energy guzzler. If you’re heat-savvy, you’ll do good for the environment and your wallet too.

“Oh the weather outside is frightful…” – but keep it outside. We want to be cozy and warm within our own four walls. But when you thoughtlessly turn up your heating, you might get a nasty surprise when the next energy bill comes. To prevent this, you can reduce energy costs with simple measures, without having to totally remodel your house.

1. Maintain your radiator

Every radiator needs a little tender loving care. Is yours making a clicking noise and not warming up as it should? That’s because there’s air in your heating system. Hold a bowl under the valve and open it carefully until all the air has escaped. Then your work is done! If in doubt, you’re better off calling a professional, especially if the problem involves underfloor heating. This is often not set up ideally.

2. Use your heating efficiently

Getting colder? Not all rooms have to be toasty warm. The suggested temperature of the living room and the kitchen is 20 degrees centigrade, while 18 is enough in the bedroom. Heating one degree less means a six percent energy saving! However, you shouldn’t go overboard with saving. If the room temperature sinks below 16 degrees centigrade, moisture can condense on the external walls and mold can grow. Moreover, it is more expensive to reheat a cold house than to maintain the warmer temperature all the time.

3. Air your house properly

Some people leave their windows ajar even in winter. By doing so, they lose 200 liters of oil on average per year. At the same time they do little to refresh the air. Instead they are cooling down the walls, which, in turn, increases the risk of mildew. It’s better to air your house three times a day by opening the window for five minutes at a time. If a draft blows between the rooms, even a windowless hallway will be replenished with fresh air. If you live in a Minergie-build, it is usually sufficient to set the ventilation to the lowest level. Aerating won't be necessary.

4. Avoid heat loss

Do you feel a little draft coming from somewhere? Windows that aren’t airtight leak energy. This is where “Do it yourself!” comes into play. Cover up gaps with self-adhesive seals or consult a handyman. At night, shutters and curtains prevent a room from cooling down. You can also avoid heat loss by sticking thermal reflector foil behind the radiator and ensuring that no furniture is in the way preventing heat from circulating. Heating pipes which run through cold rooms should be sealed off, otherwise you’ll lose heat this way too.

5. Use LED light bulbs

In the darker time of year, our lights are on for longer. Are you still using conventional light bulbs? It’s worthwhile to replace them with LED bulbs if you can. They might seem a bit expensive when you buy them, but they use ninety percent less power. LED fairy lights, which you can use to decorate your living room, give off a feeling of warmth that’ll add to the overall heating of your house. Tip for the garden and outdoor areas: install a motion detector to reduce the use of lights and thus save power.

6. Put the kettle on

A cup of tea warms the body and soul – a welcome relief on cold days. But remember to boil the water for your tea in the kettle, rather than on the stove. This simple change reduces energy consumption by fifty percent. What’s more, when you cook pasta, potatoes or rice it’s more ecological to boil the water in the kettle first.

7. Replace your oil

Last but not least, consider replacing your oil or gas heating. With a heat pump or pellet heating you’ll help save the environment by reducing your CO2 emissions more than ninety percent. Heat pumps need significantly less power and are mostly maintenance-free. Pellet heating scores high among the different heating methods because of its low operating costs.

Is my house energy efficient?

The better the insulation and ventilation are in a building, the less energy you need to heat it. Since 2009 a canton-wide building energy certificate (Gebäudeenergieausweis der Kantone [GEAK]) has been in use that provides information on how energy efficient a house is. This certificate includes an expert report that helps you plan for long-term renovations. If you’re interested in it, you can contact a certified GEAK expert. The cost to arrange one for a detached house ranges from 450 up to 650 Swiss francs.

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