Geez it’s been a cold start to Winter in Adelaide this year…. coldest start to Winter in over 40 years is an understatement! With this sudden temperature plunge in our midst, it’s time to chill proof your home. Of course having a good air conditioner, gas heater or wood fire installed to heat your home is a necessity these days but there are a lot of things you can do to improve the efficiency of your heater and help your hip pocket.
Keep the draught out
One of the quickest ways to waste power and push your heater into overdrive is to allow draughts in under doors or around poorly sealing windows. Investing in inexpensive foam draught stoppers or rubber door seals are a great way to ensure the cold stays outside. A quick trip to the hardware store (or Hammer Shop if you're my 6 year old) and you can pick up a trolley full of draught stoppers pretty cheap.
Close up the evap
If you have an evaporative air conditioning installed in your home, you will be losing a huge amount of warmth through the ceiling vents. Closing the louvres on each vent will help stop heat loss but ideally you should seal up the vents completely. This can be done by cutting pieces of ply board or cardboard the same size as each vent square and installing into the vent. Each square you fit should sit under the louvres to stop warm air escaping. Alternatively you can cover the evaporative air conditioning unit on the roof with a tarp or purchase a fitted cover from a local supplier.
Shut those doors
If you have rooms that are not being used, it will increase the time to heat your home and lower the temperature if you don’t close the doors. So much heat is wasted if unused bedrooms, studies or toy room doors are left open. Closing these rooms off will make the area you are heating smaller, increasing the efficiency of your heater dramatically.
Clean out your fire and choose the right fuel
If you're like me, the last time you thought about the trusty wood fire was the last time it was burning. Cleaning out the soot and ash from the bottom of the fire will allow better airflow and can increase the temperature and efficiency of your wood heater.
When it comes to wood heaters, not all fuel is created equally! Once you find a good wood supplier latch on tight. There are a lot of firewood suppliers around but you can pay top dollar for wood that is not good. It may take a bit of trial and error if you don’t know where to go but it is worth experimenting until you find some good wood. Purchase $40 - $50 of wood from a few suppliers and try each out individually, this way you can compare the wood quickly and find the bestbang for your buck. Make sure it’s dry and burns long and hot to get that fire blazing!
Clean your reverse cycle air conditioning filter
As air conditioning specialists in Adelaide, one of the most common problems we see is blocked return air filters. If you have a ducted or hi-wall reverse cycle air conditioning unit, be sure to clean your filter at least once before Winter and once before Summer. Although it may require more regular cleaning, this will at least ensure you are checking it on a regular basis. Try setting a 6 monthly reminder in your smartphone or write it in your calendar as a reminder to clean the filter. Ensure you clean the filter with a hose either side, shake the excess water off gently and allow it to be drip dry before re-installing. It is fine for the filter to be slightly damp when re-installing...just don’t forget to put it back in.
Reverse those ceiling fans
If you have ceiling fans in your home, especially if you have high or raked ceilings, it is time to turn them to Winter mode. On most fans this means the blades will turn in a clockwise direction when looking up at the fan blades. Winter mode sucks the cooler room air upwards toward the ceiling, this then pushes warm air sitting at ceiling height back down along the walls. Circulating the warm air downward will help heat your home more effectively. Don’t forget, hot air rises!
Curtains and blinds
During Winter those heavy curtains and drapes can really help keep you toasty. While the sun is shining through the window keeping the curtains open will grab some of the Sun’s free warmth. As the sun sets or passes each window, closing the curtains will help prevent heat loss through the glass windows. If your windows don’t see any sunshine throughout the day, leaving them shut is best to keep in the heat.
Cook a chook
Although we don’t use our oven much during Summer, when Winter hits there is nothing better than a mouth watering roast. The oven will produce heat and help keep at least the kitchen warm. Once the oven has been switched off and you're done cooking, take advantage of the leftover heat and leave the door open.
Reverse cycle temperature - Winter
During winter you want to change the mode and temperature settings on your ducted or hi-wall reverse cycle air conditioner. Ensure you have set your controller to the Heating mode, usually represented by a Sun shape. Setting the temperature is always an area up for debate with my partner and I but a good rule of thumb is 18-20 deg C during Winter. When it’s 12 degrees outside, 20 is rather pleasant!
18 - 20 C
Keep the peeps warm
The cheapest and most effective way to keep everyone warm this Winter is layers, lots and lots of layers! Don’t forget that before we had good, cheap and reliable forms of heating mum used to tell us to ‘just put another jumper on’. Layering up with an extra jumper, jacket or pair of socks will help keep the chill away and reduce the amount of energy used to run the heater or air conditioner. Don’t forget Grandma’s favourite knitted blanket, a steaming hot cuppa and a snuggle on the couch.
Get the right technicians on the job
We harp on about this a lot in our content but it really is a fundamental truth that we want everyone to engrain. If your heater or air conditioning unit stops working, contact the manufacturer and ask them for your local service provider. This way you will engage a professional company with great product knowledge to get the job done right. So many people choose the closest or cheapest repairer which in the long run works will waste both your time and money. Knowing the product can significantly reduce diagnostic cost (time spent to find the fault) and these companies will often carry common parts on board to get you back up and running on the day. Get the techs in the know…….know your brand, know your specialist.