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  • Writer's pictureKelvin Mureithi

How to Make Your Home Energy Efficient

Enhancing Home Energy Efficiency: A Comprehensive Guide (Part 1)

John and Kate were at their wits' end trying to stay comfortable in their 1920s timber-framed home. Floorboards whistled as cool air crept in during winter, forcing them to crank the heat yet still reach for blankets. Come summer, their aging residence turned into a sauna despite fans whirring - leading to sleepless sticky nights. They dreaded each season change, knowing their home was constantly working against them.


There had to be a better way...


Why It Matters


The story of John and Kate isn't unique.


Many homeowners grapple with the challenge of keeping their homes comfortable while managing energy costs. The key lies in understanding how heat flows in and out of your home and then strategically intervening to regulate this flow.


Understanding and Managing Heat Flow: The Three-Way Framework


Heat typically enters or escapes a home through three main pathways:


  1. Windows

  2. Doors

  3. Building Envelope (roof, walls, floor)


To turn your home from an energy liability to an asset, it's crucial to focus on these areas.


Let's break down effective strategies for each.


Windows — The Gateway to Thermal Regulation


Windows are crucial in controlling a home's internal climate.



Inefficient windows can lead to heat loss in winter and unwanted heat gain in summer, making the living space uncomfortable.


Simple Solutions

  • Thermal Curtains: Problem: Windows can be a major source of heat loss in winter, leading to increased heating costs. Solution: Installing thermal curtains or honeycomb blinds, like Luxaflex Duette Shades, creates a layer of trapped air, acting as an insulator and reducing heat loss.


  • Window Sealing Films:  Problem: Inefficient windows allow heat to escape in winter and enter in summer. Solution: Applying window sealing films, such as 3M Thinsulate Climate Control, adds an extra layer of insulation, slowing down heat transfer.


  • External Shading:  Problem: Letting heat in during summer leads to uncomfortable indoor spaces, forcing occupants like John and Kate to seek cooler environments. Solution: Installing external shading, like Helio Screen roller blinds or awnings, acts as a 'hat' for windows, blocking direct sunlight and reducing heat gain.

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Advanced Options


Doors — Sealing Your Home's Entry Points


Doors are crucial in maintaining a home's thermal integrity.



Inefficient doors lead to draughts in winter and heat ingress in summer, significantly affecting indoor comfort and energy usage.


Simple Solutions

  • Weatherstripping and Draught Excluders:  Problem: Gaps around doors allow cold air to enter and warm air to escape, leading to increased heating needs. Solution: Applying weatherstripping and installing draught excluders (like the ones from Bunnings or your local hardware store) seal these gaps, reducing draughts and energy loss.

  • Insulated Door Curtains:  Problem: Even when closed, doors can be a source of heat loss. Solution: Creating an insulated door curtain from a blanket or quilt provides an additional layer of insulation, trapping heat and enhancing thermal comfort.

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Advanced Options

Building Envelope — The Ultimate Barrier

The building envelope, comprising the roof, walls, and floor, is essential in maintaining a home's thermal balance. Inadequacies in this area can lead to significant energy loss, much like John and Kate experienced with their home's old structure.


Simple Solutions

  • Sealing Gaps with Expanding Foam:  Problem: Cracks and gaps in the roof and walls allow heat to escape, making homes like John and Kate's difficult to heat efficiently. Solution: Using expanding foam fillers such as Selley's or other brands at Bunnings to seal these gaps can significantly reduce heat loss. It can also help with keeping vermin and other critters out of your home.

  • Adding Rugs and Wall Hangings:  Problem: Hard surfaces like floors and brick walls can make a room feel colder and less inviting. Solution: Placing rugs on floors and hanging textiles on walls add thermal mass, retaining warmth and improving the overall comfort (and aesthetic) of living spaces. You might want to get a friend with an eye for interior design to help out with this.

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Advanced Options

Embracing Passive Strategies for Energy Efficiency


The solutions we've discussed so far — from upgrading windows and doors to enhancing the building envelope — are what we call passive strategies.


These methods focus on improving the existing structure of your home to naturally maintain a comfortable temperature. They are essential first steps in creating an energy-efficient environment, as they typically involve one-time changes with long-term benefits.


John and Kate's journey in transforming their 1920s home illustrates how these passive strategies can significantly impact comfort and energy use. By implementing these changes, they're not just reducing their energy bills; they're also contributing to a more sustainable future.


Looking Ahead: Active Strategies for Enhanced Efficiency


While passive strategies lay the foundation for an energy-efficient home, there are also active strategies that can further optimise energy use. These methods often involve the integration of technology and systems that actively manage and reduce energy consumption.


In a future article, we'll delve into these active strategies.


We'll explore how modern advancements like solar panels, smart thermostats, and energy-efficient appliances can work in tandem with passive strategies to create homes that are not only comfortable but are also at the forefront of energy efficiency and sustainability.


Concluding Thoughts: How to Make Your Home Comfortable and Energy Efficient (All Year Round)


The journey to optimising your home's energy efficiency begins with a fundamental understanding of how heat travels — entering and escaping through windows, doors, and the building envelope.


As we've seen with John and Kate's experience, methodically addressing these key areas through sealing leaks, enhancing insulation, and upgrading glazing is vital. It's not just about making small changes; it's about transforming your home's interaction with its environment.


By embracing the Heat 3 Ways framework and incorporating passive solar techniques where appropriate, you're not merely cutting down on energy costs; you're elevating your living space to a new level of comfort and efficiency.


The transformation from an energy-draining structure to an energy-efficient haven is both a rewarding and sustainable journey.



 

Makao is a solutions oriented sustainability and ESD engineering firm. From personalised assessments of your home's energy needs to tailored recommendations on the most effective improvements, Makao is committed to helping you turn your home into an energy-efficient haven. Don't let your home be an energy liability — let us help you make it an asset. Inspired to transform your home? Contact Makao today for a consultation.


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