Struggling to stay warm this winter?

    Potential sources of air leakage. Credit:
    Potential sources of air leakage. Credit:

    As the temperature drops, Ku-ring-gai residents are turning on the heaters, consuming an average daily power rate of 23.3kWh, putting them well above the average for other Sydney council areas of 15.3kWh.

    There are lots of simple things you can do right now to stay warm and reduce your energy bills at home, with this information from the Council’s sustainability team.

    Sealing your gaps
    One of the most common problems is air leakage – where outside air enters and warm air leaves your house through cracks and openings. Leakages can affect both your health and comfort, as well as contribute to increased costs of heating and cooling a home.

    What to do

    • Seal gaps in doors, windows, skirting boards and cornices with a simple caulking gun – a tube holding silicone or latex used to bond metals, glass, wood or ceramic surfaces
    • Seal wall and ceiling penetrations such as downlights, power outlets, air-conditioning and manholes and roof space access hatches
    • Fit draught-proofing strips to doors such as brush or foam seals
    • Duct exhaust fans to outside and install non-return baffles – these are vents which let air out only one way. So in a bathroom or kitchen exhaust the vent exhausts air outside but doesn’t let air in when not in use.

    Ceiling insulation can settle down over time and this reduces its efficacy in keeping warmth in during winter. If it has compressed to less than 50mm, topping up helps.
    Gaps in insulation also reduce the efficiency of existing insulation. A 10% gap can reduce the overall R-value of insulation by 50%. For example, the area above downlights, left uncovered usually due to fire safety concerns, results in insulation gaps. Downlight covers can be retrofitted to allow better coverage of insulation around these lights.

    Uncoated single-glazed windows are considered to be the weakest thermal component in the building envelope. Heat conduction through such windows is almost 10 times that of insulated walls, with energy wastage from windows accounting for more than 50 per cent of an air conditioner’s energy consumption. Compared to single glazing, double glazing reduces heat conduction by half.

    It’s expensive to retrofit double glazing but you could try cheaper options to reduce the loss of heat from within, with window films and with blinds and curtains. Open blinds and curtains to let in winter sun during the day, and close them in the afternoon/evening to help prevent the radiant heat inside from escaping through the glazing as it starts to cool outside. This reduces the burden on your heaters.

    Need more help?
    The Council’s Sustainability team can help with a range of ways to cut your fuel bills and prevent heat loss, as well as keeping the cool in, in the summer months. Also, the Greenstyle home advice and assessment program is available all year round to provide free advice to homeowners on all aspects of energy, water, waste and garden is provided free of cost. For more information, go to the Council’s website and search for Greenstyle sustainability.

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