5 August 2011
How to Save Energy Around Your Home
By: Lisa Reid (BEng (Environmental))
Even though the shortest day of the year is already behind us, we still have a couple more months of cold weather to endure. This generally means heaters run 24/7 to keep our families and homes warm, resulting in high energy bills and excess greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, heating and cooling can account for up to 40% of household energy use.1 So keep reading for some practical steps that you can take to keep warm without having an expensive winter energy bill arrive this spring!
In cool weather, the main aim is to keep warm air inside and cool air outside your home. So the following tips work on this principle.
Install insulation: A straightforward way to prevent the escape of warm air from your house. Generally, the easiest and most accessible area to install insulation is in your roof cavity. If you are doing renovations, also consider putting insulation in the walls and under the floor.
Draught-proof your home: Typically, draughts are felt through gaps in windows, door frames or gaps in floorboards. There are many low cost products available from your local hardware store that don’t require building expertise to install. Draught-proofing can be as simple as using a door snake to seal a gap between a door and the floor or using an adhesive draught stopper to seal around a window. Filling gaps in floorboards may require a bit of work, so if this isn’t possible, you could buy a new rug or carpet off-cut to reduce draughts coming up under the floor.
Cover your windows: Windows (single glazed) have minimal insulative properties, so when uncovered they allow cool air in and heat out (in fact 15 times more than an insulated wall2), therefore making your heater work harder. Ideally, double glazing provides the most efficient way to minimise heat loss through windows, however, this is not always practical or affordable. So make sure you have heavy curtains (preferably floor length) or blinds on all windows to keep the cool air out. You’ll be amazed at how such a simple thing can make a difference to the warmth of a room. Installing box pelmets above your windows will also prevent the escape of warm air and inflow of cold air into your home (Figure 1). Remember to open north facing curtains during the day to capture the sun’s warmth and close all curtains as it gets cooler and darker in the late afternoon. This will stop heat escaping from exposed windows.
Figure 1: How a curtain and pelmet configuration can help keep heat inside your home (Source: SA Government)
Wear an extra layer: When at home in Winter, put on a warm jumper or extra layer before you dash to turn up the heater. This also applies to children too. Of course, wearing ski gear inside is a little extreme so we recommend layering with garments made from merino wool. Check out our range of merino clothing from Merino Kids, Pipi Child and Willy Wagtail and hand-knitted lambswool jumpers and vests from Gypsy Kids.
Check the thermostat: Turning the thermostat up by one degree can add to energy consumption by about 5 to 10%, so keep your heater between 18°C and 20°C.3
According to Sids and Kids, providing your baby is dressed appropriately for the season, it is not necessary to run heating (or cooling) all night. Research has shown that overheating (thermal stress) has been linked with SIDs for many years, so it is important to avoid overheating your baby.4
Heat only the rooms you are using: If you spend most of your time in the living room, perhaps it would be smarter to invest in a small energy efficient heater for that room rather than using central heating which heats the rest of the house. Make use of zoned central heating if it is available. Close doors to keep the heat in the area you are using.
So for the rest of this Winter, use a common sense approach to make your home more comfortable and to reduce your energy bills.