It’s no surprise to anyone living in central Victoria that our winters are very cold. Most of our homes are quite hard to heat, and then retain that heat. We resort to using a lot of winter fuel to try to heat our homes, and often, they are STILL not cosy!
If you are tired of being defenseless against uncontrollable winter cold, here are five simple yet effective ways to make your home easier to heat and much more comfortable to live in.
1. Installing invisible pelmets
This is one way to make your existing window coverings more effective. We have seen a lot of homes in Victoria and many of them have very good heavy line drapes. However, not many of them have box pelmets, but more to the point, not many people like box pelmets. Invisible pelmets are an excellent alternative. They stop the convection cycle of warm air being chilled down to cold air between your drapes and the glass. Pelmets sit over the top of your architrave and curtain track to stop the draught between the drapes and the glass.
Zoning is a way to effectively make your home “smaller” to reduce the area you need to heat. Any Victoria homes can be quite large with many rooms. Decide which rooms are not required for heating and keep the door closed and draught proofed. You can save around a third of our space, so that can make a significant difference to your heating bill.
3. Provide an air supply for your wood fire
A wood fire must have oxygen to burn the wood. That air has to come from somewhere, so your fire will draw air into your room to keep the flames going. The problem is you’re actually drawing in cold air from draught points around your home for the wood fire to run. The solution is to provide an in floor air supply as close as you can to the actual source of the fire, and be able to seal that off when the fire is not in use.
4. If using electrical panel heaters, use a thermostat to turn them off
Electric heaters are 100% efficient. They allow you to monitor your energy use with the help of a thermostat. When your room gets to a certain temperature, the heater will shut off the electrical element and you won’t use any more electricity. Panel heaters become reasonably efficient if you fit them to an insulated wall, rather than an external wall. And NEVER under a window!
5. Improve your home’s thermal efficiency
Thermal efficiency is a measure of how well your home holds the winter heating in; in the summertime, it’s how well it keeps the heat out. A smart and cost-effective way to attain this is through an energy and thermal retrofit.
The five components of thermal efficiency are the key elements in your home:
1. Draught proofing - Draughts are invisible but can be responsible for up to 50% of your heat loss. This leakage occurs through doors, windows, architraves, wall vents and other gaps and cracks throughout your home.
2. Ceiling Insulation- Minimises heat flow through the insulation so it’s very important to have good quality, well fitted ceiling insulation.
3. Underfloor Insulation- Adding insulation underneath your timber floors will significantly reduce heat loss and lessen the chill on your floors.
4. Secondary Glazing- Reduces heat loss / gain through your single glazed windows.
5. Wall Insulation- Prevents massive heat loss through your walls - and reduces noise too!
Improving these elements will make your house cosier and reduce your heating footprint. Doing these simple things makes your home more comfortable to live in, makes it cheaper to run, and that will be better for the environment too.
If you are living in your “forever” home, then retrofitting according to a practical, sequenced, prioritised ecoHome Retrofit Plan tailored specifically to your home’s strengths and weaknesses will bring you great comfort (and low bills) for many more years. Many retrofit tasks can be done on a DIY basis, although professional “Done For You” services are also available.
If you’d like to learn more, visit us at the Macedon Ranges Sustainable Living Festival on Saturday 3rd March 2018, or visit www.ecomaster.com.au/assessments.