There’s nothing quite as cosy as snuggling up with a book in front of a fireplace or hiding under the covers listening to the rain on a wintry night.
Even though Western Australia is renowned for its moderate climate, when our homes are not equipped to keep the cold out and the warmth in, life can get a bit miserable during our chilliest months.
But with a bit of planning, your home can be a haven year round.
One of the simplest ways to ensure your home stays at a comfortable temperature is to install good-quality insulation. It keeps the cold out during winter and the heat out during summer and there are lots of options available.
Bradford Insulation is Australia’s leading brand of domestic insulation, providing glasswool, rockwool and foil products to meet all the insulation needs of the home builder or owner.
According to the company, insulating a house will help it act like an esky. Heat shifts from higher to lower temperatures until the temperature is the same in both areas – the same as heat will leave your coffee on a cold day or enter your fridge if you leave the door open.
In summer, if you’ve got your air-conditioning running, the outside heat will try to get in where it’s cooler. In winter, when you’ve got your house heated, the heat will try to get out into the cold.
Under-floor heating has gained popularity in Australia and in many cases, people find that there is no other heating required for their home.
Modern under-floor heating systems are fully controllable; they can be independently zoned to individual rooms and can provide advantages over traditional convection-based systems and reverse-cycle air-conditioning.
With large surfaces such as the floor, it is possible to achieve ideal comfort conditions with a slightly lower ambient air temperature, resulting in more comfortable conditions, reduced dust circulation and lower energy usage.
These advantages are even greater in rooms where traditionally cold floor surfaces such as tiles, stone or polished concrete are used, since these become your heating system rather than creating draughts and cold spots.
According to Needham Air, reverse-cycle ducted systems are a good option for keeping a home comfortable year round, because they can cool and heat and they’re more affordable now than ever before.
According to Paul Needham, buying the right system to suit your specific requirements is critical.
“This requires spending time with an air-conditioning design consultant to work out what products suit your home and use,” he says.
“Purchasing air-conditioning is not as simple as buying an LCD screen TV or piece of furniture; there is a design element that is required to get the right product for your application.”
The air-conditioning unit is not the only product you’re buying, in a ducted installation the unit is only 30 per cent of the cost of the overall system.
Paul says components such as sheet metal plenums, flexible duct work and the design is added to the unit, and it’s these elements that determines if the system you’ve purchased will work to its rated capacity and efficiency.
Those parts can vary in price by as much as 20 per cent between companies supplying the same brand of unit but different components.
“Running cost can be as much as 50 per cent more with cheaper low-grade components,” he says.
Fires and gas heaters
More people are choosing fireplaces for heating because they make a beautiful focal point for living spaces.
According to the team at Subiaco Restoration, there are a wide choice of fireplaces available.
“No longer are we reliant on the ineffective, inefficient open-front-style fires that used to be portrayed as heaters,” Matt Kersey says.
“We still have some like them available as decorative fires but we’ve a much larger range of more efficient and effective products to look at when discussing options with a client, be they a homeowner, architect or builder. There are many types of fireplaces, servicing plenty of different types of clients.”
Matt says wood, gas, electric and ethanol heaters are all worth considering. With each having their pros and cons, it is advisable to visit a showroom where all are on display to make a choice about which type to install.
Double glazing is a good investment if you are really serious about creating a home environment that is protected from the outside world.
As well as keeping out noise, double glazing can make a big difference in helping to maintain a stable internal temperature.
In the past, double glazing was considered a costly commodity and it could only be installed at build time. But now it’s not only much more affordable, it is possible to retrofit as well.
It’s been used extensively in colder climates such as Europe and Japan for decades and finally Australians are starting to catch on to the idea.
Whether you’re looking at blinds, curtains or shutters, there’s no question that covering windows makes not only a big difference in heating or cooling a home but it also helps create ambience.
According to Kresta, luxurious curtains with generous amounts of fabric help create the feeling of opulence and comfort. They are practical as well, helping to prevent heat loss through glass windows and in summer they can be drawn to protect from the sun’s harsh rays.
Shutters are increasing in popularity and there are more options available these days to suit all budgets and styles.
Technological advances have also contributed to better options for blinds, with clever 3D materials acting as mini insulators.