Feature

How To: Keep Your Home Warm

Green Lifestyle

We’ll show you the green, greener, and greenest ways to stay warm at home this winter.

heating your home

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There's many ways to make your house warm in winter, but some of them can have a very high eco-impact. We all want to avoid high energy bills, so the good news is, with a few clever alterations to your home, you can winter-proof your home. Remember, if your home is warm in winter with a low energy cost, then your home will be summer-proofed as well!

GREEN:

Sure, cups of tea, and warming slow-cooked, comfort foods can help you to feel warm, but if you're serious about keeping warm at home, these green methods will get you well on your way.

- Rug up inside too. Most of us are pretty good at rugging-up when we go outside in winter, but in the home we'd suggest you wear a really comfy warm pair of slippers, use a hot water bottle, put on a nice warm jumper, and have a blanket handy in the lounge room for yourself or guests.

- Just one room. Stick to just heating the lounge room, and shut off the rooms with doors, or even thick curtains. You might want to consider a heat shifter to take the heat from one room to another – for example, from the living room to the bedroom as you retire to bed.

- Think smarter not harder. If you're going to heat up a room, do it it in the smartest way possible, and from the energy savings you'll have you can then use renewable power by asking your energy provider to sign you up to a supply of 100 per cent green power. For example, make sure your heater’s flues and fans are clean so you're making the most of your energy output, and choose the right heater (see the next point).

GREENER:

The conventional way to heat our homes isn't very efficient as we tend to use methods that warm the air – a very energy-intensive method. So, while we don't encourage buying a heap of products to do this, it is important to get the right types of products for your use.

- Better heaters. As we found in our feature, Heaters: oil column vs gas vs electric radiant vs electric fan, if you're heating a smallish room for a long period of time, the greenest option is an oil bar heater. Completely avoid convection or radiant heaters as they use loads of energy for a little heat. A split system air conditioner is a good space heater, and if you have your own solar panels to help run it you're right on track for a warm winter, and a cool summer! Some gas heaters are also fairly efficient and green, but go for a reliable new brand so you can seal up the home so it's free from cool drafts. The new Braemar"Super-Six" claims to be the world’s most energy-efficient conventional ducted gas heater.

- Stop the drafts. Gaps that cause draughts can add up to 25 per cent to your heating and cooling bills. You can't go wrong with Moroday from just $15-20 for a roll, and you'll probably have leftovers to give to friends after using. Ceiling exhaust fans can cause heat loss through gaps too, so consider a DraftStoppa cover, or if it's time for a new fan, check out the new energy-efficient range from Tastic. Check out Green It Yourself's range of draft-proofing videos and DIY tips, here.

- Hot air rises. Push the hot air near your ceiling down to your level with a gentle fan. The smart and sleek Haiku fans are the most energy-efficient fan tested by ENERGY STAR, and it has been awarded first place at the international LiveEDGE competition for excellence in electronic design for the global environment. Prices for the bamboo fan start at $1,100 and $900 for white or black versions.The Vornado charcoal fans are a great way to ensure a room stays warm. For your chance to win one, enter our competition to win one here.

GREENEST:

Great insulation is paramount to a warm home, and in some homes this requires a total thermal redesign so you can take advantage of the sun.

- Batter up. Good quality ceiling batts will cost about $700 to $2,700. Check out Earthwool, which is made from recycled plastic bottles and comes with a 50 year waranty. Retrofitting insulation to your roof and ceiling is really important, and saves up to 45 per cent on your year-round energy costs. If you're keen for even more info, check out our recent feature, Instant Expert: Insulation.

- Shut out the cold. Most people have curtains for privacy, but thick, multi-layered curtains with pelmets are best. A bit of elcro around window frames is a great idea too. If you're renting, you can demand curtain alterations to your home in most states. Remember to open the windows to let the sun in during the day, and close them up tightly at night. Rollershutters aren't just great in summer, they're also a way to dramaticlly reduce heat loss from your windows. For maximum security and year-round use, check out DIY Ezyfit Rollershutters.

- Total window block out. Up to 40 per cent of heat loss in a home is through window glass, so get double glazed windows if possible. Secondary panels such as ecoGlaze or Magnetite are a bit cheaper if you're on a budget. If you're renting, cover your windows with bubble-wrap – see how our intern last year did this here. There's also a stick on option you can buy called Clear Comfort.