Cheap heats: 7 ways to warm up your home for $50 or less

Cheap heats: 7 ways to warm up your home for $50 or less


Winter arrives slowly, and then all at once.

A perfect calm of weather conditions brought the chilliest mornings of the year to most parts of the country this week.

My toes felt it first. The second they hit our wooden floor, yesterday I decided to break the first cardinal rule of working from home – no pyjamas. I dug out the fluffiest, chunkiest pair of socks I could find, chucked a dressing gown over my clothes and flicked the kettle on.

Five years of flatting has taught me that a heat pump is a rare luxury, and how to do it on the cheap.

READ MORE:
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* Consumer NZ says these blinds are the best for keeping your home warm
* Chilly? How to make your home look and feel warmer

Stop heat escaping out the window with a rolled bath towel.

123RF

Stop heat escaping out the window with a rolled bath towel.

A ROLLED UP TOWEL

Top of the winter hacks list is deceptively simple. Roll up a bathroom towel and put it above the curtain rail. That’s all. 

Consumer NZ tested out some creative home heating hacks to see if the tricks were true or urban myth. Head of testing Dr Paul Smith said the towel hack, “worked really well”. 

“What happens with heat loss is the warm air in your room rises, then it tends to sink down behind the curtains – if it can – and as it passes by the cold window, the heat gets sucked out quite quickly.

“So, rolling a towel, putting it right along the curtain track at the top and covering that gap stops the air going down behind the curtain. So it had a measurable effect.”

Cost: $0.

Pin up a blanket against the bedroom window on chilly nights. 

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Pin up a blanket against the bedroom window on chilly nights. 

BLANKET CURTAINS

Well, I didn’t say these hacks were effective, cheap, and aesthetically pleasing. 

The other thing Consumer found that made a noticeable difference to warmth was pinning a blanket behind the curtains. It’s the budget version of getting some heavy, double thickness curtains.

So pin a cheap, fleece blanket up against the bedroom window. This isn’t something you’ll want to do every day because it’s a tad cumbersome, but would be suitable for a particularly chilly night. 

“We pinned the blanket up close to the window frame so that it actually laid right over it and it just came below the sill. It did exactly the job of blocking the air flow. It’s essentially creating cheap double-glazing that holds the still air next to the glass,” said Smith. 

Cost: $10-$20. 

FAN > COLUMN 

Oil column heaters heat a room gradually. They don’t suck up quite as much power as some of the cheap fan models, but the heat doesn’t get distributed evenly in the space. 

If you want the effect of a fan heater, buy a small desk fan instead. 

Place the fan on the ground beside the column heater and it’ll warm a room three times as fast. 

Cost: $5.

DIY your own double glazing with a sheet of bubble wrap or a plastic insulation kit. 

Ashten Macdonald/Dominion-Post

DIY your own double glazing with a sheet of bubble wrap or a plastic insulation kit. 

DIY DOUBLE GLAZING

Around 20 to 30 per cent of an uninsulated home’s heat can escape through windows. 

If you’re in an old rental that feels colder on the inside in June than it does outside the front door, your windows are the problem. 

Fitted double glazing can cost between $18,000 to $20,000 for an average three-bedroom home, putting it squarely out of the quick-fix price range. 

A sheet of bubble wrap or a window insulator kit will achieve a similar result for the price of a meal out, not a meal out in Europe.

Secure bubble wrap on internal windows in seldom-used areas with some Blue-Tack or double-sided tape, and make sure it is in line with the frame.

Homed reporter Kylie Klein-Nixon tested out a home insulation kit on her bedroom windows to see if it could really solve her condensation dilemma. 

A five window kit from Mitre 10. 

Kylie Klein-Nixon/Stuff

A five window kit from Mitre 10. 

“For $34.95 I got a five window kit that comes with a roll of plastic film you cut yourself, two rolls of double sided tape and some instructions. I provided the tape measure, scissors and a hair dryer. Even as I was pulling this kit together I was envisaging ending up trapped in a cocoon of plastic wrap and double-sided tape after getting hopelessly tangled up in it. 

HOMED: The next morning, the side I'd let uncovered was dripping with condensation, the insulated side was dry as a bone.

Kylie Klein-Nixon/Stuff

HOMED: The next morning, the side I’d let uncovered was dripping with condensation, the insulated side was dry as a bone.

“But the process turned out to be incredibly simple,” she said.

Cost: Around $35 for a 3M Window Insulator kit for five windows.

Cat flaps are a major source of heat loss. 

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Cat flaps are a major source of heat loss. 

BATTEN DOWN THE CAT FLAP

There’s nothing like a mysterious, icy cold breeze to suck the cozy out of a room you’re paying to heat. Cat flaps are a major source of draughts, and not just when your four-legged pal comes and goes. 

You want to improve the seal around the frame so it’s nice and tight. Unscrew the whole thing, clean the area where it’s in contact with the door, and screw it back in firmly. Add a small layer of silicone sealant around the frame. 

If that doesn’t resolve the issue, add some rubber insulation tape on either side of the flap. 

Cost: $5-$30.

A rug  can act as an extra layer of insulation. 

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A rug  can act as an extra layer of insulation. 

RUG

Wooden floors are pretty, pretty cold. If fluffy socks aren’t cutting it, a rug is a great way to add another layer of insulation to the bedroom or lounge.

Rugs make a room feel cozy and inviting and can tie the rest of your decor together all at once. 

A thick rug will help prevent heat loss through the floor, especially if there’s no insulation underneath. If you live in a villa, even adding a simple runner in the hallway will help. 

You can pick up a large rug secondhand quite cheaply, on TradeMe or FB Marketplace. Kmart, the Warehouse and Bunnings also have some great rug options for about $50, depending on the size and the materials. These will look great for a year or two and probably need replacing, but hey, you get what you pay for. 

Cost: $50+

This Kmart heated throw retails for $45.

kmart

This Kmart heated throw retails for $45.

HEATED THROWS

What’s better than a fluffy throw? An electric blanket. 

What’s better than an electric blanket? An electric blanket you can use sitting on the sofa. Yes people, they’ve done it. 

The good folks at Kmart and the Warehouse have taken two simple winter items and mashed them together to create the newest homeware trend: the heated throw. 

The blanket is made of a mink-style fabric and has 9 heating settings, perfect for a snuggly movie night. 

Cost: $45$49



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