The first step to energy efficiency is to make sure your home is well-sealed. Australian homes have traditionally been so ‘leaky’ that it is estimated that if you added up all the areas where air leaks occur you would have the equivalent of a one square metre hole in your wall. In winter, leaks allow your hard won heat out and the winter cold in; in summer, they allow the hot air from outside in and, if you air condition, that expensive cool air literally slides out the door.
Draught proofing is best dealt with at the time of building, so ensure your designer and builder are engaged with trying to minimise draughts and you will reap the benefits from the day you move in.
There’s plenty that can be done to retrofit and fix a draughty home, though, to make it more comfortable and energy efficient to live in.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
Extra care needs to be taken when sealing external doors. If sealing them yourself, follow the instructions on the door sealer packaging carefully. There are even seals that can withstand a certain amount of storm surge – check your local hardware store for details.
Fit a draftstoppa
Fitting this hood to your exhaust fans helps seal the home from the ceiling space – these work by using the force of the fan to lift covers up, with gravity keeping things sealed otherwise. You will need to access your ceiling space in order to fit this product.
Block off chimneys when not in use. If you can hear the wind whistling, that’s the sound of your money burning!
Seal off skylights
This can be as simple as fitting a sheet of clear plastic at the bottom of the skylight shaft, or you can employ professional solutions.
Fitting pelmets to your windows stops the air circulating down between the window and the curtain. Pelmets can be painted, wallpapered or even upholstered to make them more attractive. Leftover material from the curtains could be used for this.
Downlights can be a source of ‘leakage’ if they are vented or gimbal types. Remove downlights from your ceiling and bring the fixture within the room ‘envelope’. Every place you have a downlight, you have a break in your insulation.
Renew and Sanctuary magazines have published many articles on thermal efficiency and draught proofing over the years. Check the relevant website energy efficiency sections for Renew and Sanctuary.
Looking to take further action to really bring up your home’s thermal envelope? The Insulation and Windows Buyers Guides are great resources to help you take the next steps.