Weekend Challenge #07 – How to Chillax [but not Chill] @Home

I’ve always thought home insulation is a bit like tax returns… there’s no fun in doing it and we put it off for ages, but once we’ve done it we’re more than happy to pocket the returns – and we wish we’d done it earlier!

With the first chills of winter settling into the Southern Hemisphere I thought it timely to outline some really simple strategies we can use at home to keep a lid on our heating bills [assuming we have any of course!].

Homes can lose heat through roofs, walls, floors, through windows and under doors. The Australian Govt. has a good technical manual on the things we can do to our homes to reduce our winter heating bills [use the image-link below – made using thermal imaging camera which is kinda cool… or hot?… borrowed from Laverty Architecture UK];

Insulating our homes is one of the most cost effective ways to minimise our winter heating bills – it helps us hold off until the last minute before we feel the need to switch on that heater.

But before the insulation I’m a big fan of doing the easy things first… ‘smart and lazy’. Here are some quick wins at home that could reduce your home’s heat loss [in a temperate climate] by 25%-45% –  whether you’re in a detached house, a semi or an apartment. I’ve practised all of these and I can vouch for their effectiveness;

  1. Close your windows; put weather seals around any obvious gaps. Some windows might have thermal leaks around their frames due to sloppy construction. Head to the local hardware store [sausage sizzle?] and stock up on some cost effective ways to seal your windows. [but make sure you still flush your home with fresh air at appropriate times];
  2. Draft proof; many doors have clearance underneath them to allow for floor finishes. Use a door snake [my kids like to hang ours in trees in the garden] or even just a rolled up towel to stop the warm air leaving;
  3. Close curtains; heat can be lost as radiant heat through glazing. Most homes have thin glass so a lot of warmth can be lost through the glass at night. Keep the blinds/curtains/drapes etc. closed at night. Pelmets are a bonus if you’re into that sort of thing. [and for those readers in the northern US; I know, I know, this one probably doesn’t cut it];
  4. Zone the house; I like to close off sections of the house that aren’t in use. Bedrooms don’t really need heating, nor do most of the other rooms that don’t get regular use, especially at night. Try to contain the warmth in the rooms you’re using.

So your weekend challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to pick the easy fruit; stop up the drafts, zone the home, seal the windows, and [if you have a roof space] stick your head up into the roof space to see if you have the right insulation. If not, you’ve just found a huge opportunity to reduce your bills.

You can also hit the hot curries – they can warm up you and the house… ; >

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