Tag Archives: Winter

#ElementalDesign Advice 08 SITE ORIENTATION

Building or renovating a green eco sustainable energy efficient home house in Ballarat Daylesford Hepburn Trentham Blackwood Buninyong Creswick Clunes Need an architect designer drafting plans builder advice help

#ElementalDesign Advice 08  SITE ORIENTATION

“Understand the sun’s movement across your site throughout the day/year, and design to take advantage of it.” – Talina Edwards

What does orientation really mean and why is it important? This is really all about the sun’s movement across your site (and the shade), and needs to be assessed for different times of the day, and different times of the year, so you can use sunlight to your advantage!

Most people want a Continue reading

#ElementalDesign Advice 06 DESIGN FOR COMFORT

Building or renovating a green eco sustainable energy efficient home house in Ballarat Daylesford Hepburn Trentham Blackwood Buninyong Creswick Clunes Need an architect designer drafting plans builder advice help

#ElementalDesign Advice 06  DESIGN FOR COMFORT

“We like 21 degrees Celsius to be comfortable – design your home to achieve this all year” – Talina Edwards

Air, Water, Food, and Shelter are said to be the basic elements that humans need for survival. However when it comes to shelter, we’re no longer satisfied with a bark hut or a cave (unless perhaps we live somewhere the weather is mild all year round!). In recent times we’ve become a fussy bunch, and we really want our (thermal) comfort too!

Think about your comfort levels – do you prefer the scorching heat of summer or the crispness and chill of winter? Or like me, (and Goldilocks!) do you dislike both extremes and prefer the in-between seasons of Spring and Autumn where it’s not hot or too cold but just right?! (ie. About 21 degrees celsius). Even if you enjoy Summer the most, I imagine you also like to escape the heat too – by swimming, or the cool breeze of a fan, or air-conditioned comfort. If you enjoy Winter, I’m sure you also love getting rugged up to make the most of the snow-season, you’d love warm comfort food or sitting round a fire…

Did you know? Ballarat residents currently spend over 75% of their home energy bills on heating! (With the rest of Victoria in a similar situation – perhaps a bit less if you’re lucky.) 

Here in the Ballarat region we are known as a ‘heating climate’ which means there are more days (months) when we will want heating than cooling. In the second half of the last century, the price of power (electricity and gas) became much more affordable for households. So we continued to live in our “wooden tents”, and rely on cranking up that heating to keep comfortable in the winter months. The price of non-renewable energy is increasing (and the planet urgently needs us to stop relying on fossil fuels!) and we are spending too much money on heating and cooling our homes when we could be designing and building them to reduce or even eliminate this need.

Buildings can be designed to be thermally comfortable all year round, without the need for air conditioning or additional heating! It is possible in our climate to do this with an energy-efficient home (if building to a Passive House standard or a 10 star-rated house). Yes, it might cost a bit more up front to get a better quality building, but the reduction (or elimination) in running costs will last a lifetime!

Imagine how much money you could save?! Imagine how much power you would save?! Imagine how much of the planet you could save! There is a lot we need to do to address climate change; to ensure a better future for our children’s children. The scientific predictions are that weather is going to have more extremes (we are already seeing this) – so designing and building our homes to be more sustainable, more energy-efficient, more resilient and more comfortable has never been so important.

What is your favourite season? Are you a creature of comfort too? How often do you have the heating on? Let me know in the comments below!

Ballarat Sustainable Architect Green Builder


Talina Edwards Architecture: elemental design is a Ballarat-based studio, with a passion for sustainable design, green buildings and healthy homes.Click here to ensure you won’t miss out on our news!

Best tips for more efficient heating this winter

Talina Edwards Architecture is a Ballarat-based studio, with a passion for sustainable design, green buildings and healthy homes. We like to help answer your questions, and this post is about the “Best tips for more efficient heating this winter”. You may also be interested in our past few posts: “Best ‘green’ ways to keep YOU warm this winter” and “Best ‘green’ ways to keep YOUR HOME warm this winter”.

Advice Heating Your Home Best Top Tips Keep Warm House Home So hopefully you’ve taken on board our top tips in our past few posts about warming yourself and your home. However let’s be realistic, until we all live in 10-star-rated homes, we will need heating – especially here in Ballarat! Did you know that in Ballarat we spend over 75% of our household energy for heating!  This is because MOST of our housing stock was designed so poorly in the first place! So here’s some tips to make sure your heating is  as efficient as possible – which not only saves energy and the earth’s resources, it also saves you money!

But before we move onto these tips, I must reiterate how important is to do things like seal up your draughts, and close your curtains at night, double glaze if possible, (as draughts and windows can account for over 50% of heat loss!) and check your insulation levels…if you don’t do these steps and others that I discussed in my previous post, then you’re basically letting all your hot air escape…it’s like trying to bake a cake in the oven with the oven-door left open…or like trying to have a relaxing hot bath without the plug in!! It’s not efficient, you’ll be using your heater much more, and it will be wasting you lots of money that could be easily (and often cheaply) avoided!

Efficient Use of Heaters 

Turn the thermostat down a few degrees: Put on some warmer clothes and drop the temperature down between 18 – 20 degrees celsius – if you’re swanning about the house in your summer frock with the heater cranking, it is up too high! These few degrees can make a huge difference to the amount of energy you use – every degree above 20 degrees adds 10% to your heating bill.

Turn your heater off at night (or right down): The ideal sleeping temperature overnight is 16 degrees celsius, and with warm bedding you can still sleep very comfortable with a lower temperature than this. If there are infants or elderly or ill people in your home, they may require slightly warmer rooms.

Only have your heater on when you’re home: Don’t heat your whole house when you’re not even there! What a waste!

Close internal doors: Keep all internal doors closed to unused (and utility) rooms – like laundries. Don’t pay for heating for rooms that don’t require it.

Only heat the rooms that are occupied: Use a space-heater to only heat the room being occupied – instead of heating a whole house.

Zone your heating: If you have central-heating, ensure it can be zoned and have adjustable (closable) vents to different zones that so you only heat the rooms you’re using.

Programmable Thermostat: Ensure your heating system has a programmable thermostat that will cut out when the rooms are warm enough, and then kick back in when the temperature drops.

Use a timer: Does your thermostat or heater have a timer? Use it to set your heating to come on in the morning, and ensure it turns off when you go to bed. You can also purchase timers that plug into your powerpoint that will do the same thing.

Regular Maintenance: Ensure your heater/boiler/ducts/outlets are all regularly maintained to help your system run more efficiently. For example, make sure filters are clean, ducts haven’t come loose, and to make sure it is safe and there are no gas leaks, etc.

Install Ceiling Fans: These can be used both in summer and winter! Turn your ceiling-fans to “winter-mode” or reverse so that they help blow the warm air down from the ceiling and distribute around the room – especially with high ceilings. Don’t turn them up too high though or the faster air-movement will feel too cool. And it’s not ideal to install them if you have low ceilings (2.4 metres or less) – particularly if you’re tall!

Consider “Green Power” to pay for your heating: Consider installing photovoltaics or ensuring that you are buying “green power” from a renewable energy resource to run your heating.

Consider Carbon Offsetting: Perhaps plant some more trees, or look into carbon offsetting to add something positive for the amount of energy your heating is using.

Check Your Wood Source: If you have a slow-combustion wood-heater, where are you sourcing your wood from? Is it from a renewable plantation? Your own block of land? Or some old-growth forest?! Please educate yourself so you can make informed decisions about your fuel. You need to ensure your wood is well-seasoned (very dry) before burning so it doesn’t smoke or produce too many pollutants into the air (and it burns better and produces more heat too).

….and finally

* So you’ve done all these things to keep yourself warm and keep your house warm, and to make sure your existing heating system is running more efficiently, AND you still need the heating on all day and night?  Well, at least you’ll have a warm fuzzy feeling knowing that you’ve done the right thing, you’ve saved some energy and you’ve done your best!

** And if you’re still cold…perhaps it’s time to relocate to somewhere a bit more tropical!!! Bali anyone?

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Do you feel the cold? Have you found these posts helpful? I’ve love to hear about it in the comments below!

We’ll aim to answer more questions about sustainable design, green buildings and healthy homes, also with reference to our local climate (Regional Ballarat area and Melbourne) in future posts. Don’t forget you can sign up to receive our monthly news  (over there on the top right-hand side of this page) so you won’t miss out on our posts!

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Best ‘green’ ways to keep YOUR HOUSE warm this winter

Talina Edwards Architecture is a Ballarat-based studio, with a passion for sustainable design, green buildings and healthy homes. We like to help answer your questions, this week we chat about the “Best ‘green’ ways to keep YOUR HOME warm this winter”. Last week we posted the “Best ‘green’ ways to keep YOU warm this winter” and next week we’ll finish with the “Best tips for more efficient heating this winter”.

Talina Edwards Architecture top tips

So, hands up if you’ve had the heating on at your place? Yes, us too! Ballarat doesn’t have a reputation for being one of the coldest places in mainland Australia for nothing! Hopefully you’ve taken on boards one of our tips from last week about to KEEP YOURSELF warmer…before turing the heater on!

But did you know that here in Victoria, the largest percentage of our home’s total energy use is for heating! On average, Victorians spend about $800 a year or around one third of the average home’s energy bill on home heating. If we can all reduce the amount of energy we use, the planet will be much happier…so we’ve compiled an extensive list of the best “green” ways to keep your house warmer this winter!

victorian household energy use

Image from www.sustainability.vic.gov.au

Of course, the best way for a home to be thermally comfortable, is for it be designed properly in the first place! It is possible to design and build a home that requires little or NO mechanical heating – simply relying on passive solar design principles (including correct orientation, adequate insulation, air-tight, internal thermal mass to store the heat, double-glazing, etc…)

But since we can’t all go out and build a new home right now (much to my disappointment!), in the meantime here’s some tips to help make sure your existing home can be as warm as possible! Many of these are cheap and easy to do, and can even be done if you’re renting. Other retrofitting ideas are more for homeowners which will cost $ now, but often the payback in terms of what you will save will be relatively quick.

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Best green ways to keep YOUR HOME warm:

1. Take advantage of FREE solar-heating during the day:  If you have a cat, you’ll probably notice they always manage to find these sunny spots! Ensure those north-facing windows have the curtains/blinds open during the day to let in the warm winter sun! (Bonus points if you have some ‘thermal mass’ inside which can help trap the sun’s warmth and keep the temperature stable inside for longer).  Also, if there are evergreen trees blocking the sun to these north-facing windows, consider replacing them with deciduous trees.

Image via cutestcatpics.com

Image via cutestcatpics.com

2. Close the drapes at dusk:  A single pane of glass can lose almost 10 times as much heat as the same area of insulated wall. it thick, heavy, insulated curtains to all windows and ensure they are closed at dusk to trap the warm air inside the house. You can add thermal liners (or even material like polar-fleece) to your existing curtains or even use old woollen blankets.

pelmet

Image via: http://banyulemodern.blogspot.com.au

3. Install Pelmets: You know those wooden boxes that sit along the top of the window? They aren’t merely decorative (or daggy vintage decor), they actually are very effective when used with heavy drapes to keep the cold air out! See image below to help explain how the air moves around the room,  without getting into too much technical talk about thermodynamics!

Image from www.sustainability.vic.gov.au

Image from www.sustainability.vic.gov.au

4. Hang curtains (inside) over your external doors:  It is worth considering hanging a curtain/blanket over your external doors during the winter months when you’re home, to help trap the cold air before it enters the house. Even when gaps beneath the door are sealed (see more about that below), drafts can still get through the sides and tops of doors. You can hang them overnight, and take back down during the day.

5. Close external shutters: If you have external blinds or shutters, closing them at night will also help to prevent the cold air reaching the glass. Don’t forget to open them during the day to let the sun shine in!

6. Put down some warm rugs: Cover bare floorboards (after you’ve sealed any gaps between boards!) with rugs or carpets to help add a layer of insulation.

7. Seal up the cracks: Check for gaps around doors/windows/floors/old vents and stop cold draughts (air leaks), and have draught-stoppers (weather-strips) fitted to all external doors, plus you can use door-snakes or rolled-up towels. Not sure where drafts are coming from? Look for obvious gaps like visible light around doors and windows, or use a candle or lit-incense stick to help detect them. Drafts account for up to 25% of heat loss in your home, and can increase your heating costs by 20%!

draught proof your home

Image from www.sustainability.vic.gov.au

8. Seal unused chimneys: Ensure unused chimneys are sealed to prevent heat loss or cold air blowing down (you can use a chimney balloon). Open fires are lovely to look at, but 90% of the heat goes up the chimney, so you’d be best to either seal up that chimney, or install a closed fire-box (slow-combustion wood heater) instead which is much more efficient.

9. Upgrade Insulation: Upgrade your ceiling insulation (and walls and floor too) if possible. Up to 35% of a house’s heat is lost through the roof (hot air rises) and the minimum R-value (resistance to heat flow) for ceiling insulation in Ballarat is R4.5 – so really we need double this amount if not more. If you have a properly insulated roof, you can save up to 45% on your heating bills!

10. Re-use heat in the home: Leave the oven door open when you’ve finished baking and you’ve switched it off, and you can do this with the dishwasher too to let the hot air escape into the room. Of course only do this if there aren’t small children and pets around who could get hurt.

11. Upgrade to double-glazing: Replace existing single-paned windows with double-glazing if possible. There are also retro-fit options to add a secondary layer to existing windows, and special films you can add to your single-glazing that can be as effective as double-glazing for a much lower price. For a really cheap DIY solution, you can add a layer of bubble-wrap to the inside of your existing windows over winter!

Image via www.builditsolar.com

Image via www.builditsolar.com

12. Rearrange furniture: Move things around a bit to ensure beds and couches aren’t up against external (un-insulated) walls. If you can, put bookshelves against external walls as they help provide an additional layer of insulation.

13. Don’t heat bedrooms: At least not overnight – the ideal temperature for sleeping is 16 degrees celsius. If you feel the cold, or have small children or elderly family members, then add extra blankets and a hot water bottle (or an electric blanket if you must – but not at same time as hot water bottle!)

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Stay tuned for next week, where we discuss greener ways to ensure your heating is running efficiently, so you’re not using excess energy or paying excess dollars for it!

Have you done anything to ensure YOUR HOME is kept warmer? What have I missed? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

We’ll aim to answer more questions about sustainable design, green buildings and healthy homes, also with reference to our local climate (Regional Ballarat area and Melbourne) in future posts. Don’t forget you can sign up to receive our monthly news  (over there on the top right-hand side of this page) so you won’t miss out on our posts!

Talina-Edwards-Architecture-Signature

Best ‘green’ ways to keep YOU warm this winter!

Talina Edwards Architecture is a Ballarat-based studio, with a passion for sustainable design, green buildings and healthy homes. We like to help answer your questions, and this post is about the “Best ‘green’ ways to keep YOU warm this winter“. This is part 1; we’ll also be doing the “Best ‘green’ ways to keep YOUR HOME warm this winter”, and “Best tips for more efficient heating this winter”.

Talina Edwards Architecture Eco Free Easy Cheap ways to keep warm winter

 

Brrrrr….winter has well and truly settled in here in Ballarat! The temperature has certainly dropped, and the cold wind sure is fresh! Our thermal comfort levels sure are put to the test here, and the first thing we do is usually to switch on the heating.

But did you know that here in Victoria, the largest percentage of our home’s total energy use is for heating! Over a third of our home’s energy use is for heating…imagine how much we could reduce our carbon footprints by doing some *free*, easy and green alternatives to keep ourselves warm – inside the home, not just when we go out to brave the elements!

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Keep yourself warm:

1. Wear Layers: Put on more layers of clothing, including a singlet, long socks, long tights, thermal underwear, and overcoats/jackets. The layers prevent exposure to the cold, and the air trapped between the layers provides insulation which helps retain body heat.

2. Wear a hat: Wearing a warm hat or beanie as a lot of your body-heat escapes through your head. Yes, you can wear it inside. Try a balaclava if really cold, but perhaps tell your family members/housemates first!

3. Warm toes: Wear some warm socks and ugg-boots or warm slippers. Slipper-socks can be good too. If your tootsies are cold, you’ll feel more cold all over.

4. Get moving: Try jumping up and down, jogging on the spot, dancing in the lounge (this track will get you up and grooving!), ride an exercise bike, pull out a skipping rope if you have the space, or perhaps venture outside for a brisk walk or jog around the block. In a few minutes you’ll feel much warmer! Of course you can do any other activity that can get your blood pumping….err I am off course talking about vacuuming!

5. Do some housework: Speaking of vacuuming, this is also a good time to mop the floors, scrub the bathroom, do the ironing, or dust all the shelves…any of these boring tasks will actually get you moving and warm you up, and you can cross another chore off your list!

6. Cuddles!: Snuggle up close to someone – your partner, children, parents or even a close friend to share some body-heat. Pets can be great for this too (but perhaps not goldfish!).

7. Cover up with a blankie: When lazing on the couch, wrap yourself  with a blanket/snuggie/shawl/doona when reading or watching TV. Even when sitting at the computer, you can cover your lap with a blanket to keep your legs warm. In Japan they have blanket/doona-like table cloths called Kotatsu– often with small heaters underneath the table to keep everyone’s legs toasty-warm while they eat/work at the table!

8. Make yourself a warm drink: Put the kettle on, and have a cup of herbal tea, a hot chocolate or just warm-water with a slice of lemon (or perhaps with some ginger and honey too…yum!). Note that ‘moderation’ is the keyword when it comes to caffeinated drinks (and alcohol…mmmm did someone say “mulled wine”!) as they increase blood flow to the skin which make you feel warmer, but you actually then lose that heat.

9. Eat comfort-foods: Enjoy warm comfort-foods that easily digestible – think porridge for breakfast with stewed fruit, and soups, curries, daals, stews and casseroles for lunch and dinner.

10. Go old-school with a hot water bottle: Fill a hot-water-bottle with hot water (but not boiling – as it can deteriorate the rubber) or use a heat-pack to pre-warm your bed, or to warm your toes, or just to snuggle with on the couch.

11. Relax in a Hot Bath: Have a relaxing hot bath (or shower) to warm your whole body up. If you don’t have small children around, leave the bath-water in the tub to continue heating the room until it reaches body temperature before draining away.

12. Flannelette Sheets: Ok these sheets may seem a bit daggy, but they are SO much warmer and cosy then crisp cold cotton or stain or silk! Bamboo sheets are probably a better choice too, and also remember to add extra blankets if needed.

13. Take advantage of free Solar heating: During the day, sit by the north-facing window that still has some warmth from the winter-sun shining through. (You can also park your car is a sunny spot during the day, and it will soon heat up inside so you won’t need to turn the heater on in the car!)

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Stay tuned for our upcoming posts, “Best ‘green’ ways to keep YOUR HOME warm this winter“, and “Best tips for more efficient heating this winter“. In the meantime, we’d love to know if we’ve missed any ideas, so please let us know how do you keep yourself warmer in the cooler months (without turning on the heater)?! I’ve love to hear about it in the comments below!

We’ll aim to answer more questions about sustainable design, green buildings and healthy homes, also with reference to our local climate (Regional Ballarat area and Melbourne) in future posts. Don’t forget you can sign up to receive our monthly news  (over there on the top right-hand side of this page) so you won’t miss out on our posts!

Talina-Edwards-Architecture-Signature