Keep­ing warm in win­ter

The Northland Age - - Opinion - Frank and Muriel New­man

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."

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