Keeping warm in winter
The chilly weather has arrived, and heaters have come out of summer hibernation. Fortunately most people have got the message about insulation, so homes tend to be warmer — but here are some interesting winter warmth facts.
About 40 per cent of all household heat is lost through the ceiling, so insulate this first. Ceiling insulation needs to be 100mm to 150mm thick to be effective, and it needs to be airtight, so there are no sneaky leaks.
Walls account for about a quarter of lost heat, but these 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. We are doubtful about the economic benefits of going to the expense of injecting foam into the walls and that sort of thing.
Raised wooden floors can also be a problem. It is estimated that just over 10 per cent of heat loss is through the floor. Wood fibre insulation board and floor coverings are an effective way of minimising that. Another alternative is to fit insulation below the floor. Some people just staple cardboard between floor joists to create an insulated layer of air.
Just over 10 per cent of heat is lost through windows. Well-made, fulllength curtains or thermal drapes are a simple answer. 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.
There are lots of others things you can do, like making your own ‘stop draught sausages’ to eliminate door draughts. This is a fabric sausage filled with sand or sawdust. By adding buttons as eyes, these sneaky heat hounds develop a personality of their own and can be an excellent family project.
Leaky window and door joinery can be sealed with sealants or a selfadhesive 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, but a lot of the warm air from stoves gets trapped in the ceiling.
The best way to make use of this wasted heat is to have a ducted ventilation system that takes the warm air from around the stove and pushes it through to the colder parts of the house, but there are limits on how far you can duct without significant heat loss. A cheap version is to install a small swivelling fan high up in a corner of a room to drive warm air down to where you need it most.
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.
"Just over 10 per cent of heat is lost through windows. Well-made, full-length curtains or thermal drapes are a simple answer. Thick, heavy fabrics are the most efficient. Light materials should be lined."