Keeping power costs down this winter
The chilly weather we have been experiencing recently is a timely reminder about ways to help lower your heating costs.
Many of you will have found it easy to reflect on your domestic heating requirements over the past week, with weather conditions fit for a bleak winter.
Here are some tips for keeping warm and ensuring your power costs don’t sky rocket throughout the cooler months ahead.
Just under half of all household heat is lost through the ceiling, so insulate that first.
Many older homes have no insulation at all. In others, the insulation is inadequate - either because earlier building requirements specified only a thin layer, or because the insulation material may have shrunk or shifted.
Ceiling insulation material needs to be 100mm to 150mm thick to be effective. It also needs to be air tight, so there are no sneaky leaks.
Walls account for 24 per cent of lost heat, but they are more difficult to insulate unless you are building a new home or extensively renovating.
One way to insulate is to reline the interior walls with gib board.
Raised wooden floors can also be a problem. It is estimated that 12 per cent of heat loss is through the floor.
Wood fiber insulation board and floor coverings are an effective way of minimising heat loss through the floor.
Another alternative is to fit insulation below the floor - cardboard can be stapled between floor joists, creating an insulated layer of air.
About 12 per cent of the heat of a household is lost through windows.
Well-made, full-length curtains or thermal drapes are a simple answer to heat loss through windows.
Thick, heavy fabrics are the most efficient. Light materials should be lined.
Because a lot of air is lost around the edges, the curtains should extend 150mm on each side, and below the base of the window.
A full pelmet is recommended. Heavy drapes are more heat efficient than blinds.
Below are some tips from some heatsaving savvy Kiwis: If your curtains aren’t sufficient, line them with woollen blankets. Folded double and stitched together they make an open ended bag which is then attached to the curtain at the top so that the completed article consists of three layers, being the original curtain and two thicknesses of woollen blanket. This increases the average temperature in the house noticeably by reducing the heat loss through the glass. Make your own stop draught sausages (fabric sausage filled with sand or sawdust) to eliminate door draughts. These sneaky heat hounds develop a personality of their own by adding buttons as eyes (an excellent family project). Leaky window and door joinery can be sealed with sealants or a self-adhesive foam strip. A wood burning coal range or potbelly stove is a cheap way to heat your home and a great way to save on cooking costs. Warm a bed rather than a bedroom: electric blankets are very cheap to run and hot water bottles even cheaper. A thick layer of newspaper under mats keeps the room warmer in winter and makes the carpet last longer. Install a DVS, if you have a heat pump, the DVS blows the warm air from the roof space down to dry and warm the home. Those with a wood burner or pellet heater could install a small swivelling fan high up in a corner of the room. It will drive warm air down to where you need it most and, if you like, into adjoining rooms.