Oh to live in Darwin at this time of the year! Temperatures in that city this week are expected to average 32 degrees, with overnight lows of 21.
For the rest of us, the pre-winter chill is certainly starting to bite. As we move into the colder months, here are 10 ways to warm up your home.
1. Prune those sun-suckers
Shady plants are great in summer, especially on the north and western sides of your property. But at this time of the year you want to get as much sun into your house as you can. Now is the time to prune plants blocking out your sunlight, if possible.
2. Let the sun in
When the sun is shining, remember to open curtains and blinds during the day, especially on the northern side of your home, but also the east (in the morning) and the west (in the afternoon).
However, you might consider leaving south-facing blinds and curtains closed on days when it is colder outside than in as the sun won’t hit those windows.
It’s very common to see homes shut up all day long with the curtains drawn. But before you head off to work or out for the day, opening the blinds and curtains on windows that get the sun can mean coming home to a much warmer property.
3. Block the cold out
Overnight you want to stop the warm air from inside your home being lost through the glass of your windows. It’s important to cover the windows to do this.
Either use thick curtains and a pelmet overhead to stop the air from getting to the window, or consider good-quality honeycomb (also known as cellular) blinds, which pull up almost out of sight during the day to let maximum sunlight in, but do a fantastic job of blocking the windows overnight, or on colder days when there is a lot of cloud cover.
The great thing about honeycomb blinds is you don’t end up with the heavy look of thick curtains but still get the insulating effect. They do look a bit like they belong in an office and not a home though, and if that bothers you, you can layer them behind a very light sheer curtain to soften their impact. Or of course, for even more insulation, a heavier curtain.
If you have ceiling fans, now is the time to switch them over to winter mode so that they run backwards. Put them on their lowest speed and they will direct the warm air from across the ceilings where it sits high up, and down the walls.
If you get condensation on your windows overnight, you’ll probably notice that leaving a fan on in winter mode during the day can help to dry the windows out faster.
5. Draughts be gone
Gaps around doors and windows can let in a lot of draughts. Block them up with an appropriate draught-sealer. Your local hardware store will have plenty of options.
Consider also a good old-fashioned door snake if you find it hard to seal the bottom of doors, which is often the case in older houses where steps may have worn, or doors are not quite square.
If you have particularly cold rooms in the home – the spare bedroom or laundry, for example, consider draught-sealing the door that separate that room or rooms from the rest of the home.
However, it is important to note that if you use unflued gas heating or an open fire, you will need to ensure you have adequate ventilation at home.
6. Monitor it
If you happen to be someone who is at home during the day, you’ll have the opportunity to throw open the windows and let the warmth in on the days when it becomes hotter inside than out, which can often happen at this time of year.
It can be helpful to have a thermometer with an outdoor sensor set up in a prominent spot in the home to let you know when it is warmer outside than in. Hardware stores often stock them – I have one a bit like this.
It will also come in handy in summer when you’ve got the opposite problem and you want to know when it has cooled enough to open the windows in the evening.
7. Go passive
A few months ago we installed a solar heater, which draws the warm air from the roof cavity into the home. You can read about it here.
I’m pleased to say it seems to working well at this time of year (when we hoped it would) helping to raise the home’s temperature by a critical tHicks Real Estatee-four degrees, meaning the heater has pretty much stayed off so far, even on cooler nights.
Because our home is well-insulated, draught-sealed and has honeycomb blinds on almost all windows, when it warms up during the day it manages to hold the temperature overnight.
8. They mightn’t be pretty but…
Okay, I’ll admit that old-style aluminium roller shutters are butt-ugly.
When we inherited two shutters on the ’50s brick box we bought a year or so back, I was tempted to rip them off. But instead we gave them a paint job (a marginal improvement) and now find in winter, we wouldn’t be without them.
When the shutter goes down about the same time as the sun it’s like instant double-glazing, you can feel the difference because the shutter helps to provide an air pocket between our old single-pane glass windows and the cold night air.
They work so well I’m even tempted to put them on a few more windows.
9. Cook up a storm
It really is a time of year for baking and slow cooking. The house will definitely warm up, but will you be able to resist all that yummy food?
10. Control the thermostat
Running your heater at 18-21 degrees will keep you comfortable without toasting, and will also keep your winter heating bills down. Just one degree more in temperature can increase your heating costs by 15 per cent.
Story by Carolyn Boyd is a property journalist and keen follower of Australia’s housing market.
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