With rising utility prices, climbing rates of inflation and an uncertain economic outlook for many expats and Italians, keeping your house warm during the winter months may prove difficult on a tight budget. In fact, energy poverty in Italy already ranges from a few percent right up to 20% in some rural parts of the country!
The average winter temperatures in Italy range between 40-50 Degrees Fahrenheit and although winters are relatively mild in the Southern provinces, the Northern regions of the country can experience extremely low temperatures, especially in the mountains.
Heating your home during the winter can often account for up to 70% of your total household energy consumption in colder parts of Italy. This means that when utility prices start to rise your budget can quickly become stretched.
In some cases, people are forced to cut back on other expenses in order to keep the heating on as the temperatures outside plunge towards sub-zero levels. However, there are many different ways that you can reduce your heating bills and improve the efficiency of the heating that you do use.
The Best Ways Save Energy Costs In Italy During Winter.
The following are some of the best ways to save on energy costs during winter in Italy.
Many homes in Italy have very lightweight curtains which don’t keep out the drafts or help to keep your home warm in the winter. One of the simplest things that you can do to improve the insulation and keep your house warm in the winter is to hang some heavy curtains over the windows.
You should also make sure that your existing curtains are properly fitted so that no heat can escape through gaps that aren’t properly covered. Poorly fitted curtains will leak heat out of your home and cause unwanted drafts.
Use The Timers On Your Central Heating.
A great way to keep your energy bills down is to make use of a timer to turn your heating on and off automatically at times of your choosing. For example, if you return home from work at 6 pm, then you could program your timer to turn on the heating at 5.30 pm so your home is cozy and warm when you get back. This will stop you from having to leave the heating on all day.
Programming the heating to come on for a few hours in the evening and then automatically switch off an hour or two before you go to bed is another easy way to save money on your bills. This will stop you from accidentally leaving the heating on overnight or being tempted to overheat your home in the evening.
In many Italian dwellings, including mine, the heating system is very old. There is no way to automatically set the timings. It has to be done manually every time.
Rearrange Your Furniture.
The coldest parts of your house are always going to be the external walls. Therefore, if you have your sofa against an external wall you should think about rearranging your furniture so that your sofa is beside an internal wall instead. Although simple and completely free, this technique can make a huge difference to your comfort and warmth during the winter months.
When you rearrange your furniture you should also ensure that your sofa is not positioned in front of a radiator or heater. Not only can this pose a fire risk but it will also deflect the warmth and reduce the effectiveness of your heating system.
Upgrade Your Home Heating System.
Whether you have a boiler or an electric heating system, it’s certainly worth your while to upgrade it if your budget allows it. Although you will have to pay upfront for improvements to your heating system, a more efficient and modern system will cut your bills over the next decade or two.
This is especially important to do in older Italian properties, such as farmhouses and villas which were often built before the latest heating technologies were available. Updating your heating system will also help you to leverage higher rents from potential tenants and is a good selling point for any property, particularly in the colder, Northern Italian provinces.
Improve Your Home’s Insulation.
When you’re heating your house as much as 25% of the heat can be lost through your roof, windows and external walls. To address this issue you can install cavity wall insulation. Unlike in other parts of North Western Europe, most Italian homes are not particularly well insulated so if you do improve your insulation you’ll quickly notice the difference it can make.
Installing insulation can be quite costly but it can end up saving you hundreds of Euros a year on your winter heating bills. A well insulated home is also a great selling point if you want to resell your property in the future.
Fortunately, the Italian government often offers generous grants on the building costs to homeowners who make their properties more environmentally friendly. This includes improving the energy efficiency of your home, installing solar panels and other green measures. Typically the government refund is capped at 100,000 Euros and is offset against your taxes for the next 5 years.
The uptake for the scheme has been massive in Italy and the government has already spent 9 Billion Euros in 2021 on the project to make Italy a more environmentally friendly nation.
In reality, upgrading the home heating system and improving the home insulation are not viable options for most Italians. It is difficult to justify spending thousands of Euros on home improvement during a financial crisis to save on heating costs.
Put On A Jumper And Wrap Up Warm!
Of course, you don’t want to be sitting around the dining table at night wearing a hat, scarf and coat but putting on a jumper is a super easy way to minimize your need to turn up the heating. When you’re wearing a jumper or sweatshirt you can keep your thermostat set to at least a few degrees lower than you would otherwise need to do.
Turn Down The Thermostat By 1 Degree Celsius.
Incredibly, reducing the temperature of your heating by just 1 Degree Celsius can reduce your heating bill by as much as 10% per year!
The traditional recommendation for the ideal temperature for your home used to be 21 Degrees Celsius, or 70 Degrees Fahrenheit; however, the new advice from Public Health England and the World Health Organization is that 18 Degrees Celsius is a better temperature for your home.
Block Drafts In Your Home.
Open doorways, cracks in the walls and open spaces can all cause cold drafts to whistle through your house! Blocking drafts is easy and a hugely effective way of keeping your house warm in the winter. Sealing up any cracks in your window frames can save you a lot of money each year while hanging up curtains in front of open doors will stop the drafts from moving through your home.
If you live in a house that has large gaps underneath the doors within your property you could either replace the doors to fit better, install door draft excluders or even just put a towel in front of the door to seal the gaps.
You can also be creative and put up lovely wall hangings to further insulate your living room or kitchen. Not only will this add a beautiful feature to your home but it will also reduce drafts and improve the property’s overall insulation.
Install Radiator Panels.
A radiator panel is a very cheap accessory that you can install behind your wall-hanging heaters to reflect the heat back into your room and stop it from heating up the walls instead! These simple additions to your property will last a lifetime and allow you to make the most of the heat that you are already paying for.
Only Heat The Rooms You’re Using.
If rising energy bills are becoming a problem for you then you can designate a particular room, your lounge for example, to heat during the evenings. Turning off the heating in the rest of your house will drastically reduce your heating bills and your heated room can become the focus of your family life each night.
Build A DIY Terracotta Heater For Your Home.
An innovative way to warm up your home on a budget is to make yourself a DIY terracotta heater. These low-cost heaters are made from a couple of terracotta pots and use candles to produce the heat. These simple DIY heaters are extremely effective and can be used to heat your living room for as little as 5 Euros per month!
You can pick up everything you need to build your own terracotta heater from a local hardware store and it shouldn’t cost you more than 20 or 30 Euros in total.
The terracotta heater works by heating the air within the pots. This hot air rises out of the holes at the top and warms up the surrounding space. As the air within the heater warms up it rises, causing cool air to be sucked into the bottom of the heater. The cycle repeats until you extinguish the candles. A simple terracotta heater can keep your living room or kitchen warm using just 3 or 4 candles per night!
When you do build your terracotta heater make sure that you never cover up the holes on the top. It’s essential that the hot air is able to escape and heat your room because otherwise, it can cause the pots to explode dangerously.
Heating Your House In Italy Doesn’t Have To Cost A Fortune.
Whether you’re struggling to pay your heating bills or just want to reduce your carbon footprint and live a more environmentally friendly lifestyle, employing one, or more, of the above techniques can really make a huge difference!