Winter is here – the Waterloo Region was issued its first extreme weather warning of the season earlier this week – and the chill is certainly in the air, and probably in your home as well.
No doubt as soon as the temperatures began to fall you cranked up the heat at home. However, if yours is like many homes you could probably feel a chill for a while. That’s because more heat is lost to radiation into your surroundings than by convection in the air. In non physics terms even though your heating warmed the air quickly the walls and interior doors in your home take a lot longer to heat up, leaving you feeling chilly.
In fact, even in reasonably well insulated homes the ‘inside’ of external walls can be several degrees colder than the air and internal walls within the same room. And if your home is not adequately insulated – and many older homes are not – you could be left feeling chilly and a little light in the wallet, as its likely that more heat is escaping than you realise.
Fortunately, there are some fairly simple ways to overcome this winter phenomena and minimise your energy bills. Here’s a look at some of the most effective:
Close Your Curtains At Dusk
Even in the winter, your curtains and blinds should be open, as even in the winter the sunlight can add natural warmth and the average window lets in more radiant energy than it lets out, so even the winter sun can help add a little free heat.
Once it’s gone however the temperature of the windows themselves can drop rapidly – and by up to four or five degrees – so to avoid letting that chill out into the room beyond the curtains should be closed as soon as the light begins to fade. By doing so you add an extra barrier to radiant heat loss, add insulation and help reduce draughts. Standard blinds can raise the internal surface temperature by several degrees and if you opt for thick curtains it helps even things out even further,, minimising heat loss and making the room feel much cosier.
Cover Your Walls
Solid walls are far better insulators than glass, but they still get cold and let out lots of heat. However, the simple act of hanging a picture or a mirror – something to cover the wall – helps raise the wall surface temperature around it.
Now you may not want to go all medieval and cover your walls with carpets and tapestries, but those long ago homeowners were actually on to something, so you may want to consider ensuring that exterior facing walls in your home are nicely ‘dressed’ for the season. One easy idea? Add a bookshelf. Not only will the shelf itself provide insulation the books themselves will add even more.
Cover Your Front Door
Doors let in drafts, and in the winter weatherstripping can only do so much. A door curtain can be a big help though, as a nice thick one that reaches all the way to the floor will practically eliminate all the draughts and help keep more warmth in at the same time (and they look nice and cosy too)
Position Your Furniture for Warmth
Just how warm or cold you personally feel in a room depends a great deal on exactly where in it you are located, even though essentially the air temperature is constant throughout. And yes, that is thanks to those pesky exterior walls again. If your furniture is placed against exterior walls it may in fact be providing some insulation (as is the case for the bookcase we mentioned above) but if you are sitting, or sleeping, in it, you will likely feel colder, so try to place any furniture you want next to a wall against an internal one.