explainer

The dangerous things we're doing to keep warm this winter.

Winter in Australia has officially arrived, and it’s a universally known truth that cold weather doesn’t exactly sit well with Aussies.

Since we like to pretend it’s summer all year round, some of us are engaging in some… risky behaviour to keep warm as the temperature plummets.

According to Graham Cooke from Finder.com.au, Australians need to be more aware of their safety during colder months.

“Although we’ve been off to quite a warm start to the year, last weekend has shown that winter is definitely here, but that doesn’t mean we need to throw safety out the door,” he said.

According to a survey of over 2000 people by Finder.com.au, one in four Australians are indulging in dangerous, expensive habits this winter.

There are two main ways that we are wasting money and risking our safety.

1. Heaters 
Data from Finder.com.au says that around 1.7 million Australians leave their heater on unsupervised, in a room that they aren’t currently in. Most obviously, this is a huge fire hazard.

Heaters are expensive. Image: Getty.

Anyone who pays their own bills will know that there is also a hefty price to pay for this habit. The same number of Australians are using multiple heaters at once, with many also leaving the heater on when they aren't home.

If you are one of the many Australians who can think of nothing worse than walking into a freezing cold house after a long day at work, there are solutions.

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"Use a timer function on your heater so that it turns on half an hour before you get home. Tech savvy users can also use an app called IFTTT and a universal remote device to automatically trigger their heating to turn on when they get a certain distance from home," expert Graham Cooke says.

2. Electric blankets

This is, again, expensive and dangerous. The statistics say that 1.5 million Australians leave their electric blanket on all night.

While it can be tempting to cuddle up into a warm bed for your eight hours, there is a significant risk of burns, fires, and even severe dehydration.

400,000 Australians also think it's a good idea to leave their electric blanket on when they aren't home. The experts say that while electric blankets are significantly cheaper than a heater, leaving them on all the time is not a good idea.

"Our research actually shows that the most effective and cheapest way to stay warm in winter is by using an electric blanket, which costs 16 times less than using a traditional electric heater. But remember, only turn it on when you’re using it," says Graham Cooke.

Shot of a pair of woman's feet poking out from under the sheets of a bed.
Turn off the heater, and jump into bed. Image: Getty.

Luckily for the environment, one-third of Australians choose to bear the cold, not engaging in any expensive or dangerous habits.

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There are three main ways that you can keep warm, without the price tag.

1.Fix your house. 

Okay, so maybe this isn't the cheapest way to keep warm, because renovating is expensive. But one of the main ways that homes become cold is because they aren't properly insulated.

Any heat that is generated escapes through the gaps, whether that be under the door or through the windows. A cheap way to do this DIY is with some gap filler.

2. Layer up. 

It turns out your grandma was right. Layering up is the cheapest and most effective way to warm up this winter. Every layer you add increases how much warm air is insulating your body, so take grandma's advice.

3. Eat warm food. 

This might seem obvious, but warming yourself from the inside out is an effective way to beat the cold. Not only does the food make you feel warm and fuzzy, but if you live in a smaller apartment the heat from the oven can work well as a heater. Now that is a life hack.

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