If you check our current government regulations, you’ll know how strict the authorities are when it comes to building and retrofitting homes so it becomes energy-efficient. Homeowners who followed these rules don’t receive astronomical power bills all year around. They remain comfortable at home even if it’s toasty or freezing outside.
While most of the mandated measures require much money and time, some of the measures are so cheap—it’s a shame if we don’t do them! Regardless of the price you have to pay, these are all investments which will pay off in the future.
“With increasing energy prices and changing weather conditions, sustainable homes are the best choice for us,”
– Laura Robinson in Why Poor House Design Costs You More Money
Here are the things you can do to ensure you have a comfortable home, no matter what the season is.
Check your doors and windows for leaks
A leaky door or window equates to wasted money. You lose about 15-25% of the heat you generate during winter because of leaky doors and windows. Good thing, it’s one of the easiest problems to fix. In the video below, you’ll see how you can spot a leaky door:
The best way is to light an incense stick during a windy day and place it near the windows, doors, vents and other spots with suspected cracks at home. If the smoke moves back into the room, that spot needs to be resealed.
In the event that you don’t have the budget to hire a professional who can fix it, use a door snake or draught excluder. These will temporarily block the crack, slowing the leakage.
Prioritise your insulation
Leaks also happen when your house has insufficient insulation. This one is harder to detect because you're losing heat via ceilings, floors, and walls. The best way to find out is to check your insulation levels. Once you pin point the areas which need improvement, immediately discuss the possible upgrades with your specialist. It's important to have a personal consultation to match the solution to your needs. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to insulation. A lot of factors including your local climate and type of structure are taken into consideration.
Note: Fixing your insulation also keeps you comfortable during summer. You won't need to worry about cool air escaping through those tiny holes and cracks!
Be wise with the windows you install
Double glazing the windows is one of the most popular upgrades homeowners do to have an energy-efficient home. It keeps you warm in winter, cool in summer and even blocks noise. It's costly, but it's an investment which pays for itself over time.
Aside from double glazing your windows, you should also consider swapping your old aluminium window frames for timber or PVC. If you really find aluminium more efficient in your windows, choose the frame with a thermal break. It must possess a high to satisfactory Windows Energy Rating Scheme (WERS) rating.
In addition, make sure that you hang the right window treatment correctly. It will minimise the heat gain, especially during the summer months.
Tell your family or housemates about saving electricity
It's funny that some homeowners heat their homes more than they need during winter. Keep your indoor temperature in no more than 20° Celcius. Wear appropriate clothing depending on the season. If it's colder, wear thicker clothes. If it's warmer, wear thin, breathable fabrics. Open your windows to allow natural ventilation.
Establish zones in your house
Let's face it. You are wasting energy and money if you heat or cool all areas of your home and you only stay in a small part of it. Zoning is beneficial, particularly in larger homes. Choose an auxiliary heating or cooling system which allows you to have a thermostat in different areas of the house so you can only heat the areas that you're using. Never heat or cool a space if nobody stays there (e.g. stock rooms)—it won't make any sense.
Enjoy the sun
Winter is the best time to open up the northern part of your home and allow the sunshine to come in your space. Put livable areas in the eastern and western part of your house so you can utilise the free energy and light from the sun.
Use thermal mass
During winter, open your windows and let the light hit your building envelope that's made of brick, concrete, tile, or any material with high thermal mass. These materials can absorb the sun's rays and emit it back when it gets cooler at night.
Keep the ceiling fan running
Think about the density of air based on temperature: cold air always sinks as hot air rises. With that, ceiling fans can drive hot air downward. This is most useful in homes with high ceilings.
Mind your Fireplace
Make sure that you check your heating systems regularly. Keep it well-maintained. Check if the flues are clear and if the seals around slow combustions are working. Also, be wary about heat loss through the fireplace. If you rarely using your home's open fireplace, it's best to install a damper and close it. You can also install a removable chimney balloon (approx. $40).