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Keep your home warm or cool without expensive systems

By Letrecia Tippett

So, you’ve finally secured your dream home – only to discover there’s no heating or cooling.

Although this may seem far-fetched, it is surprisingly common in Australia, due to influence of international architectural styles on residential design. Many older properties were not built with the unique climate and defined seasons in mind, leaving them unable to cater for scorching hot summer days and cold winter nights.

Fortunately, there are several stylish and sustainable ways to maintain a home’s ideal temperature without expensive integrated heating and cooling systems.

Efficient flooring
Carpet is not the only flooring option for a warm house. Take it from the French, who have mastered the art of creating a cosy home without carpet, instead choosing parquet floors or wooden floorboards covered with a large rug. If cracks appear in floorboards, these can be sealed with a silicone based filler or UK product StopGap – thin V-shaped plastic that springs apart in gaps to stop draughts.

Thick curtains
Common window coverings, such as venetian and vertical blinds, control privacy and light but do little to retain a home’s temperature. Homes can be more effectively heated and cooled by installing thick curtains in tightly woven textiles, such as velvet, tweed and suede. For optimal temperature control, hang curtains wider than the window frame, as close as possible to the window, and at a length that touches the floor. If you’ve already installed curtains, try adding a thermal or fleece lining for increased insulation.

Double glazing
Double-glazed windows are an effective, albeit expensive, way of maintaining a home’s temperature. For those on a limited budget, specialised double-glazing film can be applied to existing windows at a fraction of the traditional method’s costs. Some types of film can be applied at home with just double-sided tape and a hairdryer, though opening the windows will cause the seal to break. Alternatively, at a higher cost, a contractor can install magnetic double glazing that’s able to be removed to open windows.

Chimney balloon
Open fireplaces often sit idle in modern homes, letting in unwelcome draughts. Installing a Chimney Balloon (about $50) or Chimney Sheep (about AUD $35) can overcome this problem, without detracting from the look and charm of an original fireplace. Both devices work by being placed out of sight in the chimney to shut out any incoming cold air or escaping heat.
Be sure to also fill in any mini-draughts from letterboxes, cat flaps, keyholes or under the front door, with wool insulation or a specific cover.

Underfloor heating
For long-term residents with solid ground floors, installing underfloor heating can be an ideal solution. The solid floor acts as a thermal store, meaning it not only keeps users’ feet warm, but also evens out fluctuations in room temperature.
If you’re financially restricted or unsure of the benefits, underfloor heating can be installed one room at a time. Try installing in the lounge room first, before taking on more expensive rooms, such as the kitchen and bathroom, that may require base units to be removed and refitted.

Written by Amelia Barnes for

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