Well, the cold days and nights are here and whether getting ready for the shower or while watching TV, I'm sure you too have started feeling a chill, and thought of flicking the heating on. Most of us have a heating system, whether an in-built wall or a ducted system, a fireplace in the living room, or some kind of mobile heater that we move from room to room. But before reaching for that heater's switch, let's consider what the options are for keeping our homes warmer to start with, allowing us to fight the chill and also save a few dollars off the bills.
COLDER INDOORS: The chill that started entering your home lingers and the temperature seems to be colder indoors than outdoors. What to do: open the curtains and let the sun shine in; let the natural and renewable source of the sun's heating enter your home. Choose deciduous plants to shade your garden as the falling leaves during Autumn and into winter will give way, allowing the sun to enter in through your windows. This will add free warmth to your living spaces while stimulating precious happy feelings as well. If you have tiled floors the sun will heat them up and the floors will retain that heat; this clever system has been used around the world for centuries.
image courtesy of EdenBraeHomes.com.au
COLD FLOORS: tiles, stone, even wooden floors can be the first to tell you the cold has arrived. What to do: just as you would add a jumper on yourself, a rug will help you separate from the cold floor and will insulate the room preventing some of that chill from seeping up.
image courtesy of United-interiors.com.au
THE DRAFT: make sure your doors and windows close well. That small gap under and around our external door has a very strong effect on the internal temperature. What to do: invest in draft stoppers like padded-snakes [if their colours and patterns are funky you'll end up liking them]. Add door-skirtings, door/window seals and consider closing any wall-vents for the colder months with removable lids.
image courtesy of Bunnings.com.au
image courtesy of FrenchKnot.com.au
EXPOSED GLASS: our beautiful large windows are great for the view, but allow the cold temperature to seep in, and our expensive warmth to escape out. It's called 'conduction' and the larger is the glass, the faster your home's temperature will reach close to the temperature outside. What to do: add curtains to your windows. Light or dark, thin or thick, you will be impressed by how much warmer the room is than the air pocket trapped between the curtains and the windows. This is a necessary insulator for the home. Of course the thicker the curtains the greater effect you will achieve.
image courtesy of EdenBraeHomes.com.au
NOT REALLY COLD: when watching TV or reading a book, it is normal to feel a chill as our body relaxes and the blood circulation slows down. What to do: add a throw to your room styling, leave it out on the sofa and use it as these are actually a functional addition to a room as well a decorative one. This will keep the chill away and also surround you with the beautiful colours and textures you have chosen to style with.
image courtesy of United-Interiors.com.au
INSTALL OR BUY A HEATER: If your home is still cold, then consider either installing a wall mounted air conditioning unit or a ducted system, or buy a smaller portable unit allowing you to heat up just the rooms you are in like the TV room or the bathroom. What to do: buy a heating system that is right for the rooms you need it in. Consider a wall mounted air conditioning unit, as these are often cheaper than installing ducting for an existing home. Those little cheap to buy contraptions won't do a good enough job and will end up costing you a huge bill as they consume a lot of electricity, meaning you save at the beginning but pay a lot more at the end. Always buy quality and talk to the experts as the energy consumption and advances in technology are continuously improving.
If you have a budget for it, INSULATION can be added above our ceilings and under our floors when these spaces can be reached. True, this comes with a cost, but this expense will soon be covered by the savings on your energy bills, while the warmth and comfort you achieve will be immediate. If in the process of building a new home, consider installing good insulation from the very beginning. A good builder should advise you with all the latest products and techniques available on the market.
Other tips to keep the warmth in and save you a few dollars:
Especially on sunny days, test the temperature outside and open doors and windows to allow for warmer air to enter your home.
Keep the unused rooms' doors closed and avoid warming those spaces up, if you can.
Wear socks, as cold feet trigger pain receptors in your brain making you uncomfortable and increasing the sensation of cold.
Leave the oven's door slightly open after baking and release that already created heat in your living rooms.
Turn heaters off when going to bed and consider adding one blanket onto your bed if needed. If you have a timer, use it to get your home warmer in time for you getting up.
Turn your thermostat down; a temperature between 18 and 21 degree is all you need in winter months.
FINALLY: make it LOOK warm! Soft furnishing, throws and cushions, rugs and curtains not only can be very effective tools to keep the warmth in, but they will add a warmer look to help you sense the warmth you wish for. Also the colours you choose for the styling should reflect the season we are in, because the use of warm colours like burnt orange, deep reds and ochres, for example, will trigger our perception of a room warmer than it may be in reality.
For more advice on how to save money on your winter bills visit this Australian government website: Energy Made Easy.
James Treble is an ambassador for Planet Ark and firmly believes in sensible purchasing, recycling and creative re-purposing. James Treble has more than 25 years of experience in the Building Industry and Interior Design. His knowledge and experience in adding value to homes, through clever design & styling, is now published for all to learn and benefit from. Interior Design For Profit is now available online.