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If you’re already feeling the cold this winter, then recent news of increased energy bills probably gave you even more chills. However there are ways of keeping costs down, simply by making energy smart changes to your home.

Now that we’re in the depths of winter it’s about to get even more frosty for millions of households who are set to pay more for their electricity costs.

From July onwards big energy providers EnergyAustralia, AGL and Origin Energy will all start putting into place price hikes of between 16 to 19 per cent.

If you aren’t relishing shivering in your jumper, or cranking up the (expensive) heat, then you could always do some timely renovations. Not only will they add value to your place, and make it more user-friendly and easy on the eye, they should also reduce your energy usage.

Warm up with these energy efficient tips.

  1. 1. Use light-coloured paint

    If your place could do with a new lick of paint, choose light-coloured shades such as creams and whites to reflect and maximise natural light bouncing off the walls. Paint trims with a high gloss paint to further reflect sunlight. These measures should reduce the need to switch on lights during the day.

  2. 2. Insulate new flooring

    If the house has usable timber flooring, you could pack insulation material in between the joists of the floorboards if you can get access to the space underneath. If you need or want to replace the flooring material entirely, you could install a thin insulating material between the floor base and the new floorboards or carpet. This should make the room feel warmer, reducing the need for heaters.

  3. 3. Keep new rooms warm

    You may want to create an extra internal room by erecting new walls. This is a good chance to add insulation to keep heating and cooling costs down. Insulation materials can be blown into the space between double brick walls. You can also insulate plasterboard walls with insulation batts.

  4. 4. Treat and position windows to keep out the chill

    Around 40 per cent of heat loss in the home is through windows. To improve the draughtiness of existing windows, consider double glazing. Or you could install heat-shrink film. This film can also be removed when the weather gets warmer.

    If you’re installing new windows, face them northwards if possible. During winter they’ll get the sun for the longest part of the day. Multiple windows on more than one side of a room will also allow for cool breezes, and skylights or high windows will help eliminate rising hot air.

  5. 5. Make your garden work for you

    Are your yards more shabby than chic? If so it’s time for a make-over. However pay careful consideration as to how many plants and trees are the right balance for your home throughout the seasons. If you have too many bushy trees in either your front or back yard it could restrict the amount of natural sunlight which comes into the home, making it feel colder. If this is the case then consider a severe pruning or having some trees removed. Or else choose trees that shed leaves in autumn which will allow the sun to shine through, warming your home.

    On the other hand if you have too few trees which don’t provide your home with any shade at all, this can make your place feel like a furnace in summer and have you racing to the air conditioner. If you’re not sure what to do, consult a landscape gardener who can advise you.

  6. 6. Keep extensions in check

    Finally, if you’re considering adding an extension, question its necessity. For example, do you really need to create an extra family room at the back of the house or will one lounge room suffice your family’s needs? If you’re still keen on extending, don’t go larger than you need to. Remember, the bigger the house, the more it’ll cost to maintain as far as lighting, heating and cooling go.