Day 8 – energy challenge – turn off the heater

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The fireplace at Piallago Estate's refurbished Farmhouse
The lovely fireplace at Piallago Estate’s refurbished Farmhouse

How is your energy challenge going?  So far I have saved around $70 a year on lighting costs and negotiated 12% off my electricity bill just by asking.  I’m also thinking more about what energy I actually need – while typing this I even got up and turned off the lights in the kitchen that I didn’t need.

This challenge was inspired by my recent attendance at Problogger in Brisbane just over two weeks ago.  There I committed to doing a series of challenges, perfect or not, imperfect or not. And this is very much an imperfect challenge. I haven’t actually worked out how many days this will run for, and I missed a few days while skiing with my family.  But I am committing to doing daily challenges where possible until the end of the month.  You can join in with others doing the challenge on the Frugal Dare to Millionaire Facebook group, or leave a comment on this and other posts.

This challenge is an easy one yet one that is hard – turn the heater off. Yeah, right.  When it is minus eight outside on a Canberra morning who is really going to turn off the heater?  I am not suggesting you freeze. If you have financial problems, speak to your utility company.   What I do, however, suggest you do is to think about whether you really need that heater on.

For starters, what are you wearing?  If you are wearing a T-shirt you are either in denial that you are really in winter or you just like paying a fortune for heating. Put on a jumper, put on a poncho, wrap yourself in a blanket or wear a coat.  Layers work well.  Who cares if it is a fashion statement or not – just wear warm clothes!

Do you really need the heater on at night? I find I don’t sleep well if my room is too warm. I much prepare to use a hot water bottle to snuggle up to until my doona and blanket start to feel warm and cosy. But not everyone can manage this. I have just had my dad stay and he insists on leaving the heater on ALL NIGHT.  Drove me mad, but he is my father and I do try to be a good daughter so I didn’t fight this one. In the end, I convinced him not to use the split-system all night (anything with a fan is expensive, and as the heater was in the living room it wasn’t reaching his bedroom anyway), but rather to have an oil heater in his room at a low temperature.

Another tip to reduce heating costs is to turn off your heater 15 to 30 minutes before you leave the house.  For one thing, this minimises the chances of you forgetting to turn it off (unless you have a pre-programmed system like I used to have).  But the main reason is that it takes a lot of energy to actually heat up your home.  Why then spend money to heat it up only to walk out the door?  Just by turning off 15 minutes before you leave you could save one hour and 45 minutes a week in heating costs, or 157 hours of heating time over a 90 day quarter.  The little things all add up.

Do you turn off the heater at night? Or before you leave the house?  What do you do to minimise how often you turn on the heater?


  1. That can be a challenge in Canberra! We are fortunate to have a central heating system we can program to switch on and off with a thermostat. The challenge then is to set the thermostat to a reasonable temp, enough to keep us comfortable but not unnecessarily warm. Apparently each degree higher on your thermostat can have a significant percentage increase on the energy consumption.

  2. Yes, a challenge going without the heater during a Canberra winter! I have heard the thing about the thermostat – I must check re the percentages. I think it is 10% for every degree over 20C. Perhaps one of my readers would know?

  3. Haha! The first thing I say when Mr. ETT says “it’s cold” is “well, put a jumper on!” He’s heard it so often that he just says it to rile me up now 🙂 We also have lounge blankets to keep us warm while we watch TV. Works perfectly.

    1. In Japan, traditionally they would put little blankets over themselves when eating at home. I don’t know why we don’t do it more here. Sounds like you are a cute couple:)

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