Business entrepreneur Karen Porter says throwing a doona on the bed is analogous to installing double glazed windows and doors to keep Canberra’s winter chill out of your home.
And she should know.
Ms Porter has won the ACT Telstra Micro Business of the Year award from 600 nominees for the success of her company, Solace Creations.
As part-owner in a building company, she was interested in energy-efficient homes but found no local suppliers of double-glazed windows and doors.
She launched Solace Creations, based at Phillip, to help clients with their heating and cooling costs.
If that was not enough of a challenge, she is a single mother, with five children aged from seven to 23.
“My children fully understand my journey,” Ms Porter said on Sunday.
“Their life is pretty much being brought up with me being on the phone constantly and talking to customers.
“Having them part of my business and them understanding what happens in small business is a good grounding for them as well.”
Ms Porter says she takes time to do some school runs and manages to integrate family and work life.
“I can take my laptop home and sit on the lounge next to the children while I knock out some quotes,” she said.
Ms Porter’s showroom has a wide array of frames, made using a steel core coated with unplasticised PVC.
“About 90 per cent of windows in Europe are UPVC,” she said.
“They don't conduct so you don't get heat through your frames like you do with aluminium and you don't need to maintain them like you do with timber.”
Ms Porter described her business as supplementing the work of architects.
“I have got some really big architects who love me and will send every client to me,” she said.
“They know they don't have to focus on windows and doors, they just have to draw an opening and I will do the design work.
“Builders don't see windows and doors as an insulation point, they just put a single piece of glass in there.
“They take up 30 per cent of your wall space, letting heat out. So, if we get serious about insulating our floors and walls and ceilings, we need to insulate our window openings.
“My aim is to turn Canberra over so people say, hey, yeah you’re right, we do need to insulate windows and doors.”
She said a doona covering a bed created the same effect as the air gap between the layers of glass in a double-glazed pane.
“The air gap is what keeps your house warm,” she said.
The cost of replacing windows and doors in a three-bedroom house with double-glazed units is about $15,000.
“It’s probably going to take you 15 years to get your money back, but from day one you’ll be warm and comfortable, you won't have drafts, you’ll have consistent heat throughout your house so your comfort is immediate,” she said.