3 tips to keep warm for less this winter

Winter wonderlands look lovely onscreen, but the reality is icy weather for all of us – with wind and rain adding to the unpleasantness for many. Keeping the family warm and dry through winter is an important priority, so we should be prepared.

Beating the winter chill needs a 3-pronged strategy: Keep yourselves warm, keep the heat in, and heat your home safely and cost-effectively.

1. Keep yourselves warm

Start with personal insulation to stop as much body heat escaping as possible. Dress in layers – long underwear or tights under a warm outer layer followed by a jersey, for example. Keep your hands and head warm with gloves and a woolly hat.

Several layers, especially wool or fleece, help trap warm air against your skin, slowing heat loss. Adding a scarf and coat when outdoors does the same. Drier equals warmer, too, so when it’s rainy, waterproof boots and rain gear will keep you warmer if you have to go out.

There are two advantages to starting with personal warmers for you and your family. Firstly, it’s an action most of us can afford to take immediately, even on a modest budget. Secondly, once everyone is wrapped up warmly whether indoors or out, you have their immediate needs covered.

That gives you time to tackle keeping your home warm and dry. This step is likely to cost a bit more, so it may take more planning.

2. Keep the heat in

It makes sense to check that your gutters are clear and sturdy before every rainy season, and that your roof has no leaks. It’s twice as important if you live where it rains in winter: leaks mean more cold water dripping in, which makes your rooms colder.

The same goes for windows that don’t close properly, or gaps in the doors or ceiling. They let in cold drafts while allowing warm air to escape. Fixing all this might be simple if you’re experienced at DIY, but most of us would need to hire professional help to close any holes in walls, floors, skirting boards or ceilings. The same goes for plumbing issues. You need to include those costs in your budget.

For difficult-to-seal areas like the bottom of a door, use a movable draft excluder. They’re simple enough to make: a long, thin sleeve of plastic, filled with sand and sealed is all you need. You push it against the bottom of a closed door to stop the wind sneaking underneath. Covering it with fabric and turning it into a cute sausage dog is optional.


Electric heaters can be more cost-effective than gas


Thick winter curtains covering the windows also help you lose less heat through the glass. Carpeted or wooden floors trap heat better than tile or stone. A more advanced solution – but one of the most effective – is ceiling insulation.

A layer of ceiling-insulating material inside the roof is the best way to keep a home warm. It’s estimated that an insulated room needs 51% less energy to heat than if uninsulated. Installing it can be costly, but the expense is justified by the long-term saving in heating costs.

3. Warm up your home

Once you’ve set your home up to save heat, consider how you heat it. Of the most popular options, electric heaters can be more cost-effective than gas. They let you close all the windows, for a start – when you use gas heaters indoors, they must be placed near an open window to prevent a build-up of exhaust gases.

An electric panel heater on the wall can keep smaller rooms warm at minimal cost, as can a fin-type electric oil heater. For larger spaces you might choose a bar heater, with or without a fan attachment to spread the heat around the room.


Nedbank products are here to help in all 3 areas


To work out what a heater will cost you to run, check its power in kW. A 500W (0,5kW) heater uses 0,5kWh (kiloWatt-hours) of power in one hour; a 1,000W (1kW) heater uses 1 kWh, a 1,5kW heater will use 1,5kWh, and so on. The power tariff on your electricity bill will list the charge per kWh, so you can work out what each heater costs per hour.

It may take trial and error to find which heater warms up each room best, and at what cost. You may also want to factor in the cost of a generator capable of running at least one of those heaters during power interruptions.

How do you pay for this?

We have ranked these tips according to priority and affordability, so that even taking the first step will have some effect. But to be thoroughly prepared for winter you may need to cover all of them. Nedbank products are here to help in all 3 areas.

Growing kids need new winter clothes regularly, and you might have gaps in the grown-ups' winter wardrobes that need filling, too. For these purchases, as well as blankets, curtains, carpets and heaters, an overdraft or a credit card could help you cover the once-a-year strain on your cashflow.

You may not want to use your overdraft or credit card and tie up too much of either limit, because both of those tools are useful for everyday transactions. In that case, you could take out a Nedbank personal loan to cover these expenses, as well as the more costly improvements.

A Nedbank personal loan for home improvement could help you fix leaks and drafts, and maybe insulate your entire ceiling – while stocking up on heaters, curtains or carpets at the same retailer. You can get quality products and expert advice at one of our authorised partners and apply right there in-store.

The loan you qualify for will depend on your personal circumstances, so you might want to crunch some numbers on our repayments calculator to get a realistic idea of the budget you could have for your big winter upgrade.