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”.
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).
* 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?
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!