While Australia might not be threatened with the frigid temperatures of Siberia, our winters are still cold enough to justify a little preparation beyond dusting off your ugg boots. With some forward planning, it’s easy to turn your home into a cosy retreat that will keep you snug as a bug through the chilly season –without sending your power bill skywards.
Ill-fitting windows are an open invitation for Jack Frost to creep into your home, but this problem is easily fixed. Self-adhesive rubber strips can be bought from hardware stores for about $10, are an easy DIY task and will seal pesky gaps of up to 4mm. Install a stormproof seal along the bottom of exterior doors to stop the freezing winter winds sneaking in. Inside, a door snake or two will keep the living room cosy.
Large windows are common in light-loving Australian homes, but a single pane of glass can suck out 10 times as much heat as an equivalent area of insulated wall. Double- or triple-glazed windows are a worthwhile investment but for a quick and effective DIY fix, window film can be applied to existing glass and will reflect the majority of heat back into the room. As you pull out your winter woollies, it’s worth also sparing a thought for how you dress your windows. Drapes or blinds are a huge help for holding in heat, but for best effect, they need to fit snugly at the top and sides to prevent warm air moving behind the fabric and cooling against the chilled glass. Installing a pelmet or hanging the curtains within the window recess are the most winter-wise strategies.
A turbo-charged heating system is no good if all the heat is going straight through your walls and ceilings. The cost to heat a well-insulated home is almost half that of an uninsulated home, translating to significant hip-pocket savings. About 25-35 per cent of heat is lost through the ceiling. That means if the roof space is accessible, it’s usually a simple place to fill with insulation batts. Placing insulation in the walls of existing buildings can be a bit more complicated and may involve removing any plasterboard. Either way, it’s worth considering the extra costs of heat loss versus the long-term investment of hiring a qualified tradesperson to do the job right.
Carpet has the edge over hardwood floors in keeping your home snug and warm, especially in older houses, which often suffer from draft-drawing gaps. Rugs are a simple solution; place large or overlapping rugs in the living room and don’t forget a soft area rug next to the bed for those freezing mornings. While you’re dressing your home for the cold season, don’t forget to pile up the cushions and throw rugs; there’s nothing more cosy than snuggling on the sofa under a blanket – and it’s free!
Heating your home in winter is about achieving a fine balance between cost and comfort. If you’re using central heating, it’s tempting to crank up the temp to tropical but every degree of extra heat increases energy consumption by 5-10 per cent. The general guidelines are to set the temperature at 18-20ºC in winter and perhaps pop on a jumper. Ideally, your central heating should be zoned, so you only heat those rooms you are actually spending time in; if zoned central heating is not an option, you might be better to stick with space heaters.
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