Electric Dreams: How a heated throw rug had me heating my Lish Fejer

The following guest blog post is by Lish Fejer creator of DIY website Green It Yourself…

I've always found comedy in the excessive production of utterly useless electric appliances. The butterfly tin opener was replaced by the electric can opener, ugg boots replaced by heated slippers, a trip to the pie shop replaced by a pie making machine and only a few years ago the humble doona was trumped by a plush electric 'throw' blanket?

Oh, how I mocked the early adopters of that technology. Why did we need to heat our blankets before we put them on? What would our pioneering grand-women make of such folly?

And surely at a time when we are trying to reduce our energy use, buying another electrical appliance is not going to help bring down our bills.

Well, I've had to eat some humble pie (made in afore mentioned pie maker) because when it comes to keeping warm in winter, sometimes it is warmer when you plug something in. In the case of the electric heated throw rug … it is one of the cheapest ways of getting warm without doing exercise.

The revelation came when I was running a heating workshop to show folk the best way of keeping warm for the lowest cost. Using a thermometer and three pillows we used 3 different sources of heating to prove which had best bang for buck … and if you just wanted to heat yourself, while sitting on the couch, reading a book, watching teli or reading 1millionwomen blogs at the desk the best choice, by far, is the much-mocked, heated throw.

They cost around $80 to buy, and at full power use around 190 watts to keep you toasty warm. Most other heaters use at least 10 times the energy to get the same heating effects.

Why heat up a whole room when you could just heat up yourself at a fraction of the cost. Any time that the heater can be turned off, or turned lower, and you can be toasty warm, has got to be good.

So to stay warm without spending heaps, think wisely about how you heat yourself and your home, use your heater wisely and do all you can to keep that precious, and expensive, heat in the house – draught-proof, zone, insulate, put up curtains and pelmets …you know what you have to do, it's just getting it done that's the tricky bit.

At the risk of banging on with an exhaustive, and exhausting, list of things to do, I want to praise you for getting this far. Hoorah hoorah to you. Making these changes takes more than just words – you've heard them all before. The trick is in knowing enough to get the job done or make the change. That's why I developed Green It Yourself – a video-based DIY site for non-DIY folk and people who don't know one end of a caulking gun from the other (or indeed what a caulking gun is at all!). It aims to make energy efficiency achievable, effortless and invisible.

So, before you go out and buy another heater to combat the cold here are a few things you can do to keep warm. When you've mastered one thing, move onto the next. These things do really work. Follow the links to learn how to do some of them:

  • Get some good funky layers of warm clothes! It's a pioneering trick that has its roots in dagginess but need not be all puff'n'bulk.
  • Open curtains and let the sun shine in during the day. The heat of that star shining directly on a window always amazes me. Every square metre of glass with sun hitting it is like having a one-bar radiator on in the room.
  • Draught-proof your home so it's like a zip-lock bag of air-tightness. You need to be in control of what air comes in and out. I've done heaps of videos on Green It Yourself on how to draught-proof. It is a great DIY job to start on – really satisfying and will help you feel warmer as well as keep all the warm air in and cold air out.

Here's a good place to start – seal all around your skirting boards, architraves, windows, heating vents … caulk the caulk.

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Have some fun and give some of these things a go… and I'm starting with getting myself a heated throw blanket. It's not quite a snuggy and it's not a hair shirt. It's somewhere in between and I'm going to plug it in proudly, turn off the heater and glow with the knowledge of watt I'm saving.

I'd love to hear your home heating tips and tricks that keep you warm and save you money.

About the Author : Lish is Australia's Queen of Green. Science communicator, presenter and energy efficiency aficionado, she is best known as co-presenter of ABC TV's Carbon Cops. Lish has had an interest in energy efficiency ever since she realised it actually worked and is the creator of website Green It Yourself , which gives simple, step-by-step instruction to make green DIY is easy. She wants to make a green handy-person out of everyone – especially women as we are the ones who notice what needs doing and fixing around the house.

We're building a movement of women fighting climate change through the way we live.

Join us and be counted.

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