Heat your home without burning through cash this winter

Knowing which is the best option for keeping your home warm over the coming months can be tricky. Electric or gas? Oil-filled or convection?

To help you get started, we’ve explored the options – and come up with some advice on how to heat your home, which heaters might suit you best and how much they cost.
Heating options: electricity, gas or solid fuel
Choosing how your heating is powered is the first choice.

Electricity is simple: it’s available pretty much everywhere, and electric heaters are energy-efficient and don’t produce pollutants. You just need to plug it in and you’re ready to go.

That said, portable electric heaters can be quite expensive to run and their heating capacity is limited to 2.4kW, which might not be enough to keep bigger areas warm.
oilfilledheaterNatural gas is cheap: it’s generally cheaper than using electric heaters, and the heating capacity isn’t as limited as with electricity. Gas heaters are rated with a star system – the more stars, the more energy efficient.

However, natural gas isn’t available everywhere and the heaters produce gases that need to be dispersed through a flue.

Solid fuel is available everywhere: you just need somewhere to store the firewood or coal. Using a log fire or log burner can be very cheap – even free, if you live in a rural area.

Of course, you will need a chimney and the environmental news isn’t as good: smoke from fires contributes to air pollution.

Electric heaters: oil-filled, convection, fan or radiant?

Electric heaters are the option open to everyone. If electric heaters are your best choice, you’ve then got several options. They are all simple to use, have different heat settings and a safety cut-out.

But how does each work?

Oil-filled heaters use electricity to heat the oil inside.
Convection heaters have a heating element that draws in cold air, heats it and the hot air rises.
Fan heaters are great for small areas or for taking a chill off, but can be noisy.
Radiant heaters have a heating element that gets red hot, but they are relatively inefficient.

 

How much will a heater cost?

Fan heaters: upwards of about $25
Radiant heaters: upwards of about $30
Convection heaters: upwards of about $40
Oil heaters: upwards of about $50

Guide to composting at home

Turning your rubbish into something useful is about as basic as sustainable living gets. But how do you get to grips with composting? Why would you want a worm farm? And what on earth is Bokashi?

composting at home

The basics of composting

Making your own garden compost is easy, it’s cheap, it’s good for the environment and it reaps free rewards. Almost all organic household and garden waste can go on a compost heap. The resulting compost is jam-packed with nutrients for the garden soil. Composting is made easier, faster and tidier with a compost bin, such as the Tumbleweed Compost Bin.

 

Clean Up Australia explains that composting needs four things to work well:

Nitrogen: green ingredients, such as kitchen scraps, lawn clippings, weeds
Carbon: brown ingredients, like autumn leaves, branches, hedge clippings
Oxygen: provided by regularly turning the compost
Water: the compost heap should be moist, but not sodden
The only things you shouldn’t compost are meat and dairy products, animal manure, bones, fat, diseased plants, metals, plastic and glass.

What is Bokashi?

Bokashi is a fermentation process that turns kitchen waste into soil fertiliser.  A Japanese term that means “fermented organic matter”, the Bokashi composting method uses fermented wheat bran to pickle food waste and help it compost quicker without foul odours.

Kitchen scraps of almost every kind can go into Bokashi buckets: fruit and vegetables, cooked or uncooked meat and fish, cheese, bread, tea bags, coffee grinds – even wilted flowers and tissues. Bokashi Composting Australia sells the Bokashi One Bucket, into which you throw kitchen waste, layered with the Bokashi One Mix, a combination of wheat bran and rice husks infused with EM (Effective Micro-organisms).
Why a worm farm?
Setting up a worm farm is the next step in an eco-friendly garden, once you’ve got your composter up and running.

Living Greener explains that a worm farm is another way to turn organic waste into nutrient-rich fertiliser. The worms eat the waste and turn it into liquid fertiliser and worm castings, both of which are great for the garden and pot plants.  Note that worm liquid can replace fertiliser, but it must be diluted until it’s the colour of weak tea.
Starting a worm farm
You can’t, however, just dig up a few worms from your back yard and expect them to get to work producing “worm tea”. The recommended worm types for a farm are Red Wrigglers, Indian Blues and Tiger Worms. Commercial worm growers or a local nursery will sell worms, usually by the thousand – you need between 1,000 and 2,000 to start the farm.

The easiest way to start your farm is to buy a container for it, such as the Can-O-Worms.  Once the worm farm is set up, position it in a shady spot – direct sunlight is not recommended.