The Canberra Times

Heat Your HomeAdvertising Feature

There are various ways to warm your home this winterAdvertising Feature

Electric heating has seen a surge in popularity linked to the increase in homes with solar panels. Photo: Shutterstock

WINTER is just around the corner, and with colder weather starting to settle in, now is the time to prepare your home for the winter months.

Kerrianne Mahwood from Mawhood's Mitre 10 said while many people purchased smaller heaters to help fill the void, more efficient long-term solutions were needed.

When many of us started working from home, "a lot of people needed smaller blow heaters and electric heaters to heat office spaces or rooms they normally wouldn't use," Kerrianne said.

"They are great to use for the short term or a quick burst of warmth, but if you want to heat your home efficiently, then there are better solutions."

There is a range of ways to keep your home warm, however the best option will be different for each home.

Fireplaces are generally discouraged in Canberra for the sake of cleaner air. And, "if you have to pay for firewood, they can become a bit of a hassle, which is why people then look at gas or electric," Kerrianne said.

Electric heating has seen a surge in popularity for homes with solar panels. Whether it is a stylish electric fireplace, ducted heating or a reverse cycle air-conditioner, solar power allows people to use electric heating without the usual costs.

Gas fires remain popular given the extensive range available. Kerrianne said that gas fires were great because they provided exceptional warmth at the flick of a switch, with the look and feel of a cosy wood fire.

"Gas heating can be very cost-effective compared to other options, and it's also great for outdoor entertaining areas and sheds, especially with area heaters or portable mushroom heaters."

No matter the type of heating you have, proper insulation is vital when it comes to keeping your home warm, with the added benefit of also keeping it cooler in summer. Insulation is the most energy-efficient addition you can make to your home and can help you save up to 45 per cent on your current energy bills. Kerrianne said doing simple things like using door draught stoppers, adding rugs to floors, or installing double glazed windows can also help keep your home warm.

Stay cosy without the high energy billsAdvertising Feature

With a huge range of shade systems and smart fabric choices, The Canberra Blinds, Awning & Curtain Centre can help you create a warm and cosy home this winter. Photo: Supplied

Cooler months are certainly on the way, but that doesn't have to be followed by high heating bills.

Windows are a gateway for cool and warm air to move in and out of your home. Heat from the sun penetrates windows during the day and can then escape through the windows in the evening.

In fact, around 30 to 40 per cent of heating energy can be lost through the glass. So, before you reach for the heater dial, take a closer look at your windows.

The Canberra Blinds, Awning and Curtain Centre are the experts when it comes to window furnishings and shade systems. Locally owned by Toni and Terry Hunt, this is the only destination you'll need when it comes to updating your window coverings, inside and out.

Toni and the team have shared a couple of simple ways to improve your home's energy efficiency and keep you warmer this winter.

"Blinds, curtains and awnings aren't just for making your home look great. The right choice of window treatments can also help you regain control over the temperature of your home. This means less running of heating appliances which could save on energy bills," Toni said.

Toni's first tip is to take advantage of the sun when it is out. If you know it's going to be a sunny day, maximise the warmth by opening up your blinds and curtains, particularly in areas of your home that get maximum sun exposure. Then be sure to close them before the temperature drops to keep the heat inside.

Secondly, Toni says it is important to choose a fabric that will maximise heat retention.

"Considered blind choices can reduce heat loss, offering a layer of insulation for your windows and doors. This helps your rooms stay warmer in winter without resorting to the heater.

"With new innovations in fabric construction, some products are particularly efficient in keeping your home warmer in winter, and cooler in summer.

"Norman® Honeycomb Shades are an excellent choice. They have a unique cellular construction which traps the warm air in, providing incredible insulation properties," Toni said.

"The Honeycomb range comes in a huge range of colours to suit your style and space.

"You'll be amazed at the difference a smart fabric choice can make to the temperature in your home."

Inspiration and expertise under one roof

Discover clever, stylish and completely customisable solutions at the Canberra Blinds, Awning & Curtain Centre.

"We have access to a huge range of suppliers, including all the latest smart fabrics, which means we can completely tailor an energy efficient solution that suits your needs and budget, and all with a relatively speedy turnaround," Toni said.

Visit the experienced and knowledgeable team at the Fyshwick display centre or see canberrablindscentre.com.au to book an on-site design consultation.

Solar systems and batteries combine well for home heatingAdvertising Feature

A battery allows homeowners to store their solar energy for later use when it is needed most, such as heating in the morning and the evening. Photo: Supplied

Heating and cooling represent more than 60 per cent of the average Canberran household energy consumption.

Accordingly, our consultations with customers on solar panels, battery, and air-conditioning often end up revolving around this subject.

Here are a few recommendations for Canberra homeowners who want to use a solar system to heat their home at a lower cost.

Oversize the solar system

Our energy consumption fluctuates throughout the year, and so does the production of a solar system.

While we tend to use more power in winter for home heating, solar energy production is at its lowest at that moment of the year.

We therefore recommend installing a larger solar system that anticipates higher winter consumption. In our experience, customers never regret having an oversized system, as it allows them to cope better in our cold winters, and there is a lot more available energy for them in summer.

Battery storage is helpful

We predominantly heat our homes when the sun has set, either in the early morning or in the evening. This means most of our heating needs occur when a solar system is not producing energy.

A battery allows homeowners to store their solar energy for later use when it is needed most.

Thanks to a $3850 rebate on battery installations with the ACT Next Gen Energy Storage Program, batteries are more accessible and offer a respectable return on investment for most homes.

Energy efficiency matters

A reverse-cycle air-conditioner is one of the most efficient electric heating systems you can buy, because it provides three to four units of heating or cooling energy per unit of electrical energy.

As a comparison, a portable heater only produces one unit of heat per unit of electricity.

Other energy efficiency measures like passive solar heating (letting the sun heat your home through your windows), paired with wall and ceiling insulation, are ideal in further controlling heating costs.

Take advantage of the ACT Sustainable Household Scheme

With an interest-free loan of up to $15,000 for 10 years, the ACT Government helps eligible homeowners improve their energy efficiency.

You can use this loan for solar panels, batteries, and air-conditioning systems, among other products. In most conditions, the savings from these energy efficient appliances will cover more than the cost of the loan's fortnightly repayments.

Transform your home with efficiencyAdvertising Feature

Udaya Kumar is an environmental scientist and Ray Buckley is a qualified tradesperson. Photo: Supplied

Udaya Kumar and Ray Buckley are two Canberra locals that decided to combine their experience and knowledge in environmental science, trades, and energy efficiency to serve the community.

Together, they run a business called Draught Proofing Canberra (DPC).

Throughout their careers, the pair have helped close to 2000 households become more energy efficient and reduce energy costs.

Due to the climate conditions in Canberra, where winters can get as low as -7 degrees Celcius and summers reach 45 degrees, many locals experience the inclement effects of air flow leaking into their homes.

"Many households in Canberra were built decades ago. Some of these dwellings currently show signs of ageing and don't have any sustainable systems in place," Udaya said.

"Not many homeowners know that they have leaks in their homes, or how much hot or cold air is getting through them.

"When they have an assessment done, and we repair those leaks, they start seeing a big difference in their savings and lifestyle."

DPC provides a wide variety of services that help regulate the indoor temperature of a home, keeping it at a comfortable temperature during the year.

This keeps homes cool during the summer and cosy during the winters without relying on an air-conditioning system.

In terms of how it works, DPC prepares a detailed assessment for your property, and then they recommend or implement fixes such as sealing windows and doors or filling gaps that might appear in the walls.

Ray Buckley, co-owner of DPC and a qualified tradesperson, highlights the benefits of draught proofing your home:

"Even the smallest fixes can make a big impact on household energy bills," Ray said.

"Minimising draughts prevents cold air from entering the home in winter, reducing the need to run heaters.

"Similarly, insulation limits how hot a home gets in summer, reducing the need for air conditioning for an extended period of time."

An energy efficient home can not only make an impact on savings, but it also helps to improve the health and wellbeing of the occupants by helping to prevent respiratory illnesses caused by mould.

These are just a few of the benefits of creating a more sustainable and energy efficient home for your family.

If you would like to learn more, the DPC team will be more than happy to assist you.

For more information visit draughtproofingcanberra.com.au.

Minimising draughts prevents cold air from entering the home in winter, reducing the need to run heaters

- Ray Buckley