Sustainable heating during the colder months

Sustainable heating during the colder months

Sustainable heating during the colder months

POSTED BY John Ireland ON 18 Dec 2020

When the mercury drops, that breezy home you enjoy in summer can become an icebox! Here’s how to keep your place warm.

Brrrrr! As an acclimatised resident of Sydney’s Northern Beaches, you are likely to shiver your way through the colder months, longing wistfully for summer.

It is not unusual to hear the locals of Avalon Beach, Palm Beach, Clareville and Bilgola complaining bitterly about the cooler weather, even though our winters are generally mild. Many of our homes were constructed as beachside residences with the express purpose of being enjoyed during the summer months. This means maximum airflow and not a lot of insulation.

Heating your home during winter can be both challenging and expensive, particularly if you have an open floor plan or a larger abode. There is also pressure to warm your home sustainably to reduce the pressure on our environment.

Here are some ways to maintain keep your home cozy all winter long.

Eliminate drafts

You can buy a high quality heating system that costs the earth but it won’t do you much good if your home is drafty. Before you spend thousands of dollars to replace your heating system, first examine your home to identify and fix any drafts. You can do this yourself or hire a tradie to complete the work for you.

For starters, you’ll want to ensure the weather stripping around your doors and windows is in good condition. Replace any areas that are cracked, broken or missing. The same goes for the sweeps on the bottom of your exterior doors. Check the caulking around your windows and doors as well. You should re-apply caulk to any cracks each year at the beginning of autumn so that it has time to set before winter hits.

Check your insulation

Unless you want to run your heating system all winter long, you need to ensure your home is well-insulated. This will help keep the heat in during the winter and out in summer.

Insulation has the potential to cut your heating (and cooling) bills by half so it is a worthy investment for the long term. Focus on your floors, walls and ceiling to maximise the effect.

We highly recommend checking out some of the newest types of eco-friendly insulation, such as recycled denim, wool, icynene, and nanogel. These products can be better for your health and the planet.

Working with insulating materials can be a bit hazardous if you are unfamiliar with this task, so hire a professional to handle the job for you.

Upgrade your windows

Few houses in Australia have double glazing on their windows, but you can retrofit your home to accommodate this. Double glazed windows provide better insulation, helping your home retain heat for as long as possible.

If you don’t want to completely redo all your windows, you also have the option of adding thermal film to mimic the effect, albeit not quite as efficiently.

Another simple option is curtains or good blinds. Keep them drawn at night to prevent the heat from escaping and opened during sunny days to let the light and warmth in. You can pack them away in summer if privacy is not an issue.

Consider your heating options

Even with all the preventative measures described above, you’ll still need heat your home to get through the winter.

These are your choices:

  • Ducted heating systems are typically the most effective way to warm your entire house but they are also among the more expensive options
  • If your budget is limited and you only tend to use one room at a time, you may be able to get away with a portable heater
  • You may also be considering a gas or wood burning stove. Both these options have their pros and cons in terms of efficiency, cost and environmental impact. Green Lifestyle Magazine Australia suggests a high-quality, slow-combustion woodfire heater is almost carbon neutral, but also mentions a host of other factors (including the cost). Whichever option you choose, consider the planet and how you can minimise negative impact.
  • Under-floor heating, its becoming more popular in Australian homes as an option which can be installed under carpet, tiles, stone or wood floors. While this requires significant work to install, the benefit is an even and consistent distribution of heat, and effectiveness even at a low setting. Under-floor heating can be powered by ‘off peak’ metering or solar storage energy.

Tips to save on heating costs

Here are a couple more tips to help you cut back on bill shock at the end of the season:

  • Open the blinds or curtains during sunny days and close them at night. Use the sun to your advantage, it’s free!
  • Make use of timers and automatic settings so you aren’t running heaters all day and night
  • For ducted systems, close the vents in the rooms you aren’t using to avoid wasting precious heat
Don’t pump the temperature higher than 21 or 22 degrees
  • Turn your heater off when you are going out for the day or when travelling, to save energy when you’re not home
  • Finally, put on extra clothing and bedding, which will also cost you nothing beyond a trip to the shops

Whenever possible, think about what’s best for the environment when heating your home, not just what’s best for you.

By employing the techniques described here, you’ll not only stay warm throughout the winter, but you’ll add value to your home as well, helping you claim a higher price when it comes time to sell.