Winter is fast approaching and colder temperatures are starting to set in around most of the country. Since Australian homes are mainly designed to keep us cool in summer rather than warm in winter, now is a good time to check your insulation.
According to a 2015 study published in medical journal The Lancet, almost 7% of deaths in Australia from 1988 to 2009 were attributable to cold weather. This is compared to 0.5% of deaths that were attributable to hot weather.
It’s not extreme cold events that are causing these deaths either but rather constant exposure to low temperatures due to a lack of adequate insulation on windows, walls and roofing.
Research undertaken by the Queensland University of Technology Professor Adrian Barnett found the indoor temperature of Australian homes is often below the World Health Organisation recommendation of 18°C, even in generally warm Queensland.
This is forcing Australians to rely on expensive heating to stay warm, resulting in soaring energy bills.
Fortunately, the right windows and window coverings can significantly improve heat loss in winter and create a more ideal temperature in the home.
According to Stegbar marketing director Christine Evans, energy efficient windows are a good place to start.
“Windows are one of the most critical elements that contribute to the temperature inside the home. Double glazed windows, such as Stegbar’s, improve the comfort of your home and ensure it remains perfectly comfortable during winter.
“The sealed air (or gas filled) gap between the two panes of glass acts as an added layer of insulation. This extra insulation lessens your reliance on heaters, ultimately reducing your energy bills and improving your home’s energy rating.”
Window coverings can also be used to improve insulation on windows, helping to trap air for better energy efficiency.
“Insulation is key to maintaining room temperatures, and a few small changes can help your home be more energy efficient and keep bills down,” says Luxaflex Window Fashions national marketing manager Jenny Brown.
Luxaflex has developed Duette Architella Ménage Shades that feature a patented triple honeycomb cell construction, with six layers of fabric that create five insulating air pockets to trap air. The company says this can help save up to 49% on home heating costs.
It is recommended that window coverings be closed immediately after dusk to prevent heat loss.
Lastly, while doors are often forgotten when thinking about the energy efficiency of your home, they play an important role in maintaining comfortable temperatures. According to Your Energy Saving by the Australian Government, draughts from around doors can account for 25% of heating and cooling bills.
“Home energy ratings are becoming increasingly important and your doors and frames shouldn’t be an afterthought from a design and energy efficiency perspective. Draughts from around doors can account for a quarter of heating and cooling bills, so it’s worth spending the extra money on solid doors and frames which seal effectively,” says Corinthian Doors director of marketing Athina Solomou.
Corinthian Doors has released a range of Enviroseal frames that are fitted with seals to insulate from wind, noise, water and air around all four sides of the door when closed. They have also been independently tested for wind and water resistance, and satisfy the requirements of the Australian Standard AS 2047:2014 Windows and external glazed doors in buildings.
Although these steps are fairly simple, they will help to ensure your windows and doors are working for you by helping to reduce the amount of heat and energy your home uses.