Into Thin Air

Draught-proof­ing saves en­ergy and cold, hard cash.

Australian House & Garden - - CONTENTS -

Visi­tors from Euro­pean coun­tries some­times get a shock when they step in­side Aus­tralian homes in win­ter. “They can’t be­lieve how cold they are!” says Si­mone Schenkel, the Ger­man-born di­rec­tor of Mel­bourne firm Gruen Eco De­sign. “The tem­per­a­tures out­side are much milder than a Euro­pean win­ter, yet the homes are freez­ing. This is be­cause many Aus­tralian homes are rid­dled with draughts.”

You might not think the tiny gaps around doors or win­dows are of much con­cern, but seal­ing them could save you up to 25 per cent on your heat­ing and cool­ing bills. “Draughts aren’t al­ways taken se­ri­ously, but they should be,” says Schenkel. “I al­ways ad­vise clients to make draught is­sues a pri­or­ity. If they can’t af­ford to ad­dress them all, they should fix the ones they can.”

Seal­ing win­dows is a good first step, she ad­vises. Con­sider pel­mets if you have cur­tains; they stop air cir­cu­lat­ing be­tween the cur­tain and win­dow. “Doors are some­times over­looked,” says Schenkel, “but seal­ing them prop­erly will pre­vent a sig­nif­i­cant amount of heat es­cap­ing.”

Thor­oughly draught-proof­ing means that the sides and top of ex­ter­nal doors have perime­ter seals, says Lyn Beinat, CEO of Mel­bourne retrofitting com­pany EcoMaster. “These seals are in ad­di­tion to the draught ex­clud­ers on the bot­tom of a door. No amount of ceil­ing in­su­la­tion will keep a home warm if you can see day­light around the edges of a closed door.” And don’t be con­cerned that ad­dress­ing draughts might re­strict air­flow – the

‘WHEN YOU FIND A PROB­LEM AREA, SEAL IT AS SOON AS POS­SI­BLE. HAV­ING DRAUGHTS IN YOUR HOME IS CAUS­ING YOU TO USE, AND PAY FOR, MORE EN­ERGY THAN YOU NEED TO.’ ANDREW REDDAWAY, AL­TER­NA­TIVE TECH­NOL­OGY AS­SO­CI­A­TION

or­di­nary com­ings and go­ings of oc­cu­pants pro­vide am­ple air.

Check for draughts in your floor­boards, ar­chi­traves, skirt­ing boards, vents, down­lights, sky­lights and even cor­nices. Ex­haust fans are an­other over­looked cul­prit, says Schenkel. Look for mod­els that fea­ture back­draught shut­ters to stop un­wanted air en­ter­ing via the ex­haust fan when it’s not in use. As well as look­ing for ob­vi­ous gaps, rat­tling or whistling doors and move­ment in cur­tains may also sug­gest a prob­lem.

“To find draughts, hold a lit in­cense stick near the areas in ques­tion and see if the smoke moves,” says Andrew Reddaway, en­ergy an­a­lyst for the Al­ter­na­tive Tech­nol­ogy As­so­ci­a­tion. “When you find a prob­lem area, seal it ASAP. Hav­ing draughts in your home is caus­ing you to use, and pay for, more en­ergy that you need to – and no one wants to do that.”

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