How to keep warm without cranking the heater

two hands holding a blue mug


Posted June 30, 2023

Feeling the chill? Here’s how to keep warm without dialling up the heater this winter.

As the days grow shorter and that winter chill sets in, it’s all too tempting to crank up the heater to warm up the house. But before you dial up the thermostat, consider that heating is one of the biggest power guzzlers in your home. Those extra running costs can add up and, before you know it, your energy bill has snowballed.

Don’t let the winter bite into your bank account. From reversing your ceiling fans to going to bed with a hot water bottle, these energy-saving tips will help keep you snug without blowing the budget.

Top 10 tips to keep warm without using your heater


Rug up in warm clothes and blankets

It’s no wonder you’re feeling the chill if it’s Arctic outside and you’re wandering around the house in a T-shirt and bare feet. Warming yourself is cheaper and easier than heating your whole home, so instead of cranking up the heater, try putting on a pair of thick socks, slippers and a jumper. Better yet, wrap yourself up in a blanket and snuggle up on the couch.


Control the thermostat

When it comes to heat settings, 18-20° is the magic (not to mention most efficient) number. Every degree warmer than this can increase your energy usage by 10 per cent, according to the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW). Given that heating and cooling accounts for up to 50 per cent of the average Australian household’s energy bills, that extra cost can quickly add up. If you have zoned heating, only heat the rooms you're using and close the doors to empty areas.


pug wrapped in a blanket on a dirt path

Tea, hot water bottles, blankets and cosy knits are key to keeping warm without the heater this winter. Image: Getty

Reverse your ceiling fans

Heater on but still have cold feet? Hot air rises, so sometimes all you need to do is give it a little nudge in the right direction. Most ceiling fans spin in an anti-clockwise direction to create a breeze in summer. In winter, you want to reverse this so they're turning clockwise at low speed to help push the hot air back towards the ground.

Take shorter showers with a low-flow showerhead

Keeping your showers short and sweet is especially pertinent in winter, when standing under the hot water until your whole body resembles a sultana is particularly alluring. To make stepping out into the frigid air a little less shocking, try towel drying in the shower (after you’ve turned off the tap, of course) while it’s still nice and steamy.

You can also install a low-flow showerhead to reduce your water wastage. The less water you heat, the less energy you use and the more you'll save.

Insulate your home

Up to 40 per cent of a home's heating energy can be lost through the windows, according to DCCEEW.

But don’t fret if you don’t have double-glazed windows: dressing for the weather doesn’t just apply to people. Quality curtains or blinds with insulating fabrics can prevent a lot of heat loss. Keep them open during the day to allow maximum sunlight into your home, then close them at night to trap in the warm air. Alternatively, you could add thermal film to existing windows.

If you can still feel frosty air in the home, investigate the source before turning up your heater. A possible draught source could be a poorly sealed window or door. Consider a draught snake for a quick and effective fix, or seal up chilly leaks with caulk or weather-sealing rubber strips from your local hardware store.


white chair on wooden floor in front of electric heater

Using your heater or fireplace may be the most convenient option, but it's not always the most efficient. Image: Getty

Keep heating vents clear

If your heating vents are obstructed by high-pile rugs or covered with couches, the heating system will have to work harder and use more energy to pump out warm air.

Keeping air filters clean is also important. Dirty filters can greatly reduce the heating efficiency of a reverse-cycle air conditioner, so regular heater maintenance is key to keeping heaters running optimally.

Use a hot water bottle

Instead of relying on energy-guzzling electric blankets to warm your bed, the tried and true hot-water-bottle-under-the-covers method is still one of the easiest and most effective ways to warm up when you’re winding down. Slip your hot water bottle in between the sheets a few minutes before you’re ready for bed, then pop your feet into a toasty duvet sanctuary.

Opt for caffeine over alcohol

That glass of whisky or red wine might feel like it’s warming you up, but it’s actually reducing your body’s core temperature. Alcohol causes your blood vessels to dilate, which is why you might feel flushed after a cheeky tipple. In doing so, it overrides one of your body’s key defences against the cold: vasoconstriction.

If you want to drink your way to warmth, opt for a coffee instead. Caffeine has been shown to increase your core body temperature, helping to warm you from the inside. So go on, treat yourself to that afternoon warm drink with these tips on how to make a great coffee at home.



Opt for a coffee over a glass of wine to keep warm. Image: Getty

Get moving

One of the easiest ways to get warm during winter is to get your blood pumping. Going for a brisk walk, run or bike ride, doing a virtual Pilates class or HIIT session, or even cleaning the house can help you work up a sweat in no time.


Load up on complex carbs and chilli

Craving carbs? Brown rice and other complex carbohydrates help warm you up because they’re harder to digest. A 2011 study found that thermogenesis (the process by which cells convert energy into heat) increases after carb-rich meals.

You can also counteract the winter chill by eating more chilli. A 2008 study by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology found that these fiery peppers don’t just make you feel hot: their active chemical (capsaicin) can directly induce thermogenesis.


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