How to keep your home cosy this Christmas without skyrocketing your electric
The Algarve’s hardly known for its harsh winters or snowy climes, is it, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t get a bit nippy as the end of the year approaches. No, nothing like anywhere in Northern Europe, but enough to have us thinking about hot chocolate, snuggling up by a fireplace and definitely putting the heating on.
However, when it comes to hiking up the electric, it’s only natural that warning lights should start to go off in the minds of sustainably-minded folks like us. That we start thinking about how to reduce our utilities – for our bank balance but also for the planet.
So, how do we go about reducing our utility bills?
If you know us at all, you’ll know what we’re going to say here. That it’s all about how your house is designed, taking us back to our favourite subject: passive houses. Homes that are energy efficient because they’re oriented towards the sun, are passively heated by its light, and passively cooled by the proper shading and positioning of windows. Houses that are insulated from their roofs to their windows, and which use clever systems to work with and within their environments to stay the right temperature year-round.
But we can’t all redesign our houses from scratch, so we’ve put together a list of things we can all do to lower our electric bills, no matter how our house was designed. Check them out:
Easy tips to keep costs low in winter
It’s all in the windows
And how your windows are positioned and protected. Have plants, furniture or any other object blocking the light from coming in from the south? Remove them. And while we’re on the subject of south-facing windows, these are the ones you’re going to want to keep clear, both inside and out. Throw open the curtains, unfasten your shutters and let that warm winter sunshine warm hour house naturally while it’s shining.
As you might expect, the opposite is true for north-facing windows. Keep them firmly closed, their curtains drawn, and shutters bolted to keep any frosty north winds out, especially at night.
Perfect the positioning of your pergolas
The same rule that applies to curtains applies to any other sunlight-blocking device, whether you have a pergola, awnings, a gazebo, or sails. If they’re north-facing, leave them out to protect your house. South facing? Think about closing them for a while to give a slightly weaker winter sun the chance to heat your home the natural way.
Let the fresh air in
The Algarve sees big differences between daytime and nighttime temperatures, so use this to your advantage. Though it may seem counter-intuitive if you’ve lived in colder climes, if you’re indoors in the daytime, open your house up to let the warm air in. You’ll soon see how this keeps it warmer in the night, too, and helps keep the damp out.
Reconsider how you use your house
Fourth and finally, put some thought into how you’re using your house. Have your living areas at one end and your bedroom right at the other? Why not consider moving closer so that you’re only using the core of your house – a central area that’s more condensed and therefore easier, quicker, and cheaper to heat.
If you have the space, you could even consider having a winter and a summer bedroom to ensure you’re kept toasty when it gets cooler and then benefit from the design elements of another room altogether when the weather starts warming up.
Ready to buckle down for the colder months? We are too, and looking forward to it all the more now that we’ve put our minds at ease about our electrics.