Most people want a home that is warm, dry, quiet and comfortable. However, we usually don’t have the advantage of orienting our house to the sun or having an inherently thermally efficient design. We’re often trying to achieve our goals in an existing home and need to work with what we’ve got.
More than 500,000 existing homes in New Zealand are estimated to be under insulated so if you find your home a little cold, you aren’t alone. But if you want a warmer home, where do you start? The answer is by understanding where your home is losing heat.
One of the simplest, and most affordable, ways to start working towards a warmer home is to reduce air leakage. At the most basic level, this can be as simple as installing a draft stopper on the base of all external doors or replacing/installing seals around windows.
Insulate your ceiling first
Heat rises and this means that, in an uninsulated house, a huge 30%-35% of all heat is escaping through your ceiling. However, in a lot of homes there is unrestricted access to the attic space above the ceiling, so installing insulation is a job that can be completed by any competent and able-bodied DIYer. An adequately insulated ceiling means heat loss can be cut to 5%-10%.
Insulate your underfloor next
The underfloor area is not a huge contributor to heat loss. However, without insulation your floor will take on the outside temperature. This can mean cold feet which, in turn, will mean your whole body will feel much colder. Underfloor areas are also usually a very accessible area for many New Zealand homes and that makes insulating this area a fairly cost effective project.
Insulate walls during any renovation work.
Walls are an expensive area to insulate. To get a good result, installing wall insulation requires the removal of wall linings or exterior claddings. If you have any of this work planned as part of a larger renovation project then it is the perfect time for installing insulation. Sometimes if you need to do any extensive plaster repairs it can be more cost effective to replace your plasterboard. This creates another opportunity to install insulation.
Windows are have a large effect on the thermal efficiency of your home. Between 21% and 31% of your heat escapes through the windows.
Even a thermally efficient solution, such as double glazed windows, doesn’t perform well compared with an insulated wall. For comparison, the Pink® Batts® range of 90mm wall insulation achieves up to R2.8 where a double glazed window achieves R0.34.
However, without going to the expense of replacing your windows there are tricks and tips that may help you get a better thermal result:
Install thermal-backed curtains
Make sure your curtains go all the way to the floor
Take your curtains all the way to the ceiling and/or, if it fits your design aesthetic, install pelmets
Because windows are such poor performers, they can actively cool a room by creating a vacuum where warm air gets pulled behind curtains by the air that is being rapidly cooled by exposure to cold windows. Curtains that run from floor to ceiling minimise this effect.
Not all improvements to thermal performance require insulation. Where you do want to install insulation, Pink® Batts® insulation provides a safe, environmentally responsible product with a lifetime warranty*. The company also has a nationwide approved installer network which can provide a free, no obligation assessment of your current insulation and quote for any improvements you may require.
Source: Harcourts NZ
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