Winter is a great time for curling up and watching something on your home theatre
system. Unfortunately, it's also the time of year when you watch your energy bills soar. There are ways of saving energy over winter that can slash your energy consumption without forcing you to turn off the TV and heating system, wrap yourself in blankets and suffer through the cold winter months.
How Heat Flows
Understanding how heat flows is the key to understanding how to keep your home warmer in winter without having to turn up the thermostat. Basically, heat takes the line of least resistance and travels outwards via heat conduction. Conduction is measured as a "U-value": the greater the U-value, the greater the heat loss. For example, 3mm clear glass has a U-value of 5.9, while a double-glazed window made up of two panes of 3mm glass with a 6mm gap has a much better U-value of 3.1.
Another measurement of heat loss measures the ability to resist heat loss. Called the "R-value", this is the most important measurement to remember when you're looking for ways to limit heat loss in winter. This is the measurement unit used on insulation products, including blinds, curtains and other window coverings.
Insulate Windows and Conserve Energy Over Winter
What you will discover from U-values and R-values is that a phenomenal amount of heat (measured in watts) is lost through windows. For example, in a home with 70 square metres of single glazed, aluminium framed windows, over 6,500 watts of energy can be lost if the temperature difference between the inside of the house and the outside is 15 degrees Celsius. That is the same amount of energy used by a 2hp air conditioner running at its full capacity.
One solution is to replace your windows with timber framed, double glazed windows
, which would cut your losses in half. Another, cheaper solution is to buy blinds with a good R-rating. Honeycomb blinds, for instance, have very good R-ratings. For more information about your options, check out our recent HI Pages article, Which Blinds for Warmth?
Then contact your local blinds supplier
for a measure and quote.
More Ways of Saving Energy Over Winter
Days are shorter and nights are longer over the winter months and on those dark, cloudy days, we tend to turn the lights on in the house. Between using electricity for longer hours at night and more often during the day, we use a great deal more energy for lighting in the winter than in the summer. An inexpensive way to drastically reduce our energy consumption for lighting is to replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs wherever possible. Compact fluorescent lightbulbs use just a quarter of the energy of standard bulbs. Compact fluorescents are available at lighting suppliers everywhere.
While it may be tempting to keep your house "toasty warm" in winter, bear in mind that every single degree of heat you add to the temperature of your house with your heater adds up to 15 percent to your energy consumption. If you turn down your thermostat just a few degrees Celsius, you can slash your energy consumption nearly in half. You may not even have to, but a savings like that makes it worth it to add an extra layer of clothing if you feel the need to.
Finally, if you have an older home, you may need to check out your ceiling insulation. Heat rises and escapes rapidly through a poorly insulated ceiling. There are two types of insulation - bulk or reflective. Ask your local home insulation expert to install the best ceiling insulation for your home. Between insulating your windows and ceiling, replacing your lightbulbs and turning down the heat just a little, you'll be able to go back to watching a good movie on TV and stop watching your energy bills soar in winter.