Ef­fec­tive air cir­cu­la­tion keeps your home cosy, fresh and healthy in win­ter. James Treble shows you how it’s done.

Homes+ (Australia) - - CONTENTS -

James Treble shares his in­spir­ing ideas to help air cir­cu­late for a fresh, cosy and healthy home dur­ing win­ter.

LACK OF AIR­FLOW IN OUR HOMES be­comes a prob­lem as the weather cools and we close doors and win­dows to stay warm. The house gets stuffy and when air qual­ity de­creases it can im­pact our health and well­be­ing. How­ever, there are a few sim­ple things you can do to stay cosy and keep the air flow­ing through your house. And bonus! Some of them will even save you money on heat­ing bills.


Why would you open win­dows when it’s get­ting cold? Well, it’s not about open­ing up the whole house but about cir­cu­lat­ing fresh, clean air through your home. In Aus­tralia we are lucky to have a lot of sun­light dur­ing the win­ter months, even though it may be chilly out­side. Open­ing cur­tains and blinds dur­ing the mid­dle of the day, when the tem­per­a­ture is at its warm­est, will al­low sun to en­ter your home and nat­u­rally warm it with­out any me­chan­i­cal as­sis­tance. De­pend­ing on the out­side tem­per­a­ture, open­ing a few win­dows for even 20 min­utes will al­low an ex­change of air, help­ing to freshen up your home. The ben­e­fit of that burst of fresh air on your air qual­ity means you can lock your home up for the rest of the day and leave the cur­tains open un­til the sun goes down, then close them up tight to keep the warm air in.

The three rooms that ben­e­fit most from a burst of fresh air are also the rooms most used: the kitchen, bath­rooms and laun­dry. These are also the rooms that, sim­ply by nature, cre­ate the most odours. Open­ing their doors or win­dows for a short pe­riod can help ad­dress the air-qual­ity is­sue.

When de­sign­ing a home, con­sider win­dow place­ment. Re­mem­ber that awn­ing or wind-out win­dows look good, but don’t of­fer the same air­flow as slid­ing win­dows. Lou­vre win­dows can be very ef­fec­tive at al­low­ing cross breezes when lo­cated high up in the room, es­pe­cially in large open-plan liv­ing rooms or voids. They of­fer air­flow in win­ter and heat re­moval in sum­mer, and can of­ten be op­er­ated with a re­mote con­trol or easy-to-op­er­ate han­dles lo­cated down low.


Ceil­ing fans in win­ter? Not crazy at all! Most Aus­tralian house­holds spend a for­tune heat­ing their homes, but all that warm air sits in the top third of the room, rather than the space in which we ac­tu­ally live.

The trick is to re­verse the flow of your ceil­ing fans by run­ning them on low speed in a clock­wise mo­tion which cre­ates an up­draft. The di­rec­tion switch is found on the fan, so all you’ll need is a lad­der and maybe a lit­tle as­sis­tance. This will force the warm air sit­ting near the ceil­ing down­wards, cre­at­ing air­flow as the warm air rises.

An­other ben­e­fit of this sim­ple trick is that it will save you money. It costs so much to run heaters and air con­di­tion­ers, but by re­cir­cu­lat­ing the warm air, you’ll need to use these ap­pli­ances less and the warmer tem­per­a­ture will be eas­ier to main­tain.

If you don’t own ceil­ing fans, sim­ply place a ta­ble or floor fan in one cor­ner of the room fac­ing up­wards. This will cre­ate a sim­i­lar ef­fect.


A cost-ef­fec­tive way to move air about in bath­rooms and laun­dries is with ceil­ing ex­haust fans. They are of­ten part of a fan, heat lamp and light unit and are a stan­dard re­quire­ment if your wet area has no win­dow or ex­ter­nal open­ing.

Ex­haust fans re­move odours ef­fec­tively and, in turn, draw in cleaner air from the rest of the house. I rec­om­mend in­stalling fan vents when con­struct­ing a home, and they are usu­ally easy to retro­fit into ex­ist­ing homes, as long as there is ac­cess to the ceil­ing cav­ity. In two-storey homes they

may be in­stalled into side walls, which can cost more but is def­i­nitely worth the in­vest­ment. De­pend­ing on your home’s de­sign, you could also con­sider in­stalling an ex­haust fan in a store­room or un­der-stairs stor­age area.


A hu­mid­i­fier is a de­vice that in­creases the mois­ture level (or hu­mid­ity) in a room or build­ing. This can im­prove air qual­ity in­side homes when the doors and win­dows stay closed for ex­tended pe­ri­ods. More mois­ture in the air may have pos­i­tive health im­pacts for some peo­ple, in­clud­ing asth­mat­ics and those suf­fer­ing from any nasal or si­nus is­sues.

Some com­pa­nies can in­stall ducted humidifiers, which work through­out the whole house rather than just one room and may be well worth the in­vest­ment for some fam­i­lies. But if a hu­mid­i­fier is only re­quired for a few months of the year, a por­ta­ble unit may make a huge dif­fer­ence for a rel­a­tively small out­lay.

It’s worth not­ing that too much mois­ture in a home also af­fects air qual­ity, caus­ing mould and mildew, which can be a source of al­ler­gies and ill health, dam­age clothes, shoes, bags and books and stain paint. Ex­cess mois­ture may also pool on in­te­rior win­dow frames, caus­ing wood to rot. Por­ta­ble de­hu­mid­i­fiers are avail­able to re­move mois­ture from the air.


James Treble is a qual­i­fied colour con­sul­tant/in­te­rior de­signer with over 20 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence within the build­ing and de­sign in­dus­tries.

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