Top Tips to Get Your Home Ready for Winter

Almost overnight the mornings now have a distinct chill, the evenings are already getting darker earlier; and the warmth of the summer sunshine is becoming a distant memory.  As the evenings start to draw in, it’s time to start looking at your home and garden to see what needs organising before the chill sets in and how to make it cosier and work more efficiently for you.

Summer versus Winter
In the Summer it’s all about connecting with our outside space and spending as much time outside enjoying our gardens, patios and decking. Blinds are used to keep rooms cool and we use air-conditioning and fans in the really hot weather. However, as it cools down the opposite is true with windows being closed (also to try and keep the many spiders out) and central heating and fires being lit to warm our homes.

Move your furniture
In the warmer seasons; we tend to turn our furniture more towards the windows to enjoy the sunshine coming in, with our windows and doors all left open to let the fresh air in.  However, in the winter months furniture is rearranged for a cosier feel centred around the fireplace or another central focal point. Make sure you move any furniture away from radiators to maximise the heat coming out.

Roof ventilation
In the Summer months, the roof space can literally bake and if there is nowhere for that heat to go it will build a stack of hot air in the roof which will eventually force itself into your living space from the ceiling down. It is essential therefore, to install just enough ventilation to stop the stacking effect.  In the winter months; you have the opposite problem of all your heat rising into the loft, so it is recommended to consider insulation in the loft to stop the heat rising and the cooler loft space impacting on your downstairs space.

Adjust your thermostat
It is suggested that in some circumstances for each degree you turn down the thermostat towards the outside temperature you reduces your heating costs and greenhouse emissions by roughly 10%. Make sure though that your boiler is in tip-top condition and has been serviced within the last year to make sure it is not only safe to use but working as efficiently as possible. Bleed any radiators to make sure they are working properly.

Get snug with textiles and textures
When it starts to get chilly; we dig out our jumpers and cosy socks but the other way to keep warm and make your home look cosy is through the use of textiles and textures. You can introduce more fleeces and fake fur throws into your home to put on the sofa; along with cushions in cosy fabrics like chenille to keep yourself snug of an evening and the heating down lower.

Check for any gaps
It is a good idea to check around your doors and windows for any significant gaps and seal them to keep any drafts out (and spiders).

Close your doors
Make sure you don’t leave all your doors open, so therefore, close the doors to rooms you do not use which thereby reduces the area to keep cool or warm.

Use Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFLs)
These bulbs use 75% less energy and produce 75% less heat than incandescent light bulbs which will save you money as well on cooling. Also consider LED lights as they are often cheaper and easier to retrofit. It is a good idea to consider brighter bulbs for those darker days but make sure they are energy efficient where possible.

Clothing
If you can get your family members into the habit of wearing a jumper and similar warm clothes; you will save a fortune in heating costs. You will be using your own body heat to help keep you warm, so allowing you to reduce the heating thermostat.

Use an electric blanket at night
If you don’t like a hot bedroom but still get a bit chilly, why not use an electric blanket or go old school and bring out your hot water bottle which means not having to heat the whole bedroom.

Put your Summer clothing away
Once the last of the sunshine has gone, put your summer clothing into the loft to make more room for warmer winter clothing.

Tidy your garden space
When it comes to your outside space, make sure you put your garden furniture away that is susceptible to wet weather (or frost) and could potentially crack.  Look at bringing any plants inside that can’t cope with winter or cover them with protective sleeves. 

Give your windows one last clean
Autumn is a good time to have one last clean of your windows before the bad weather sets in. It also gets rid of some of the many spider’s webs and nests that have appeared towards the end of the summer.

We hope some of these tips have been useful to help you organise and transform your home ready for the Winter 😊

Renewable Heat Incentive.

The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) is the first government funded scheme of its type in the world, in the sense that it is the first long-term financial support programme for renewable heat. It’s an incentive from the government which is designed to reward people who use renewable energy to heat their buildings. This scheme was put in place to attempt to help us reach our goal of around 12% of heating coming from renewable energies.

  1. There are two phases of the scheme for this incentive: The first phase is for the non-domestic sector; the industrial, commercial, public sector and community organisations.AND
  2. One which is for residential dwellings. This one is expected to go live in 2014. The Renewable Heat Incentive will offer regular tariff payments for 7 years to people who choose to use certain technologies to heat their homes with. The amount of money which is paid depends on what technology is used to heat their homes, such as solar thermal water heating panels, heat pumps and biomass boilers (which use wood pellets, chips or logs).

Some of the technology which is eligible includes:

  • Air to water heat pumps.
  • Biomass – only boilers and biomass pellet stoves with back boilers.
  • Ground and water source heat pumps.
  • Flat plate and evacuated tube solar thermal panels.

The RHI is similar to the Feed-In Tariffs, which is a financial support scheme for people who create their own electricity. However, there are some massive differences between the two including:

  • This will be paid for by the Treasury rather than energy users.
  • There is no ‘National Grid for Heat’ so importing and exporting heat is irrelevant.
  • It will be introduced in phases, residential schemes will not be eligible until Phase 2, in 2014.

Written by Jade Turney – Building Tectonics Ltd.

New zero energy homes from 2016 onwards?

Some of you may already know this, but within the next few years the industry of construction within the UK is being given quite a challenge. It will become compulsory for all new homes built to be zero carbon homes.

There is a system which awards homes a ‘level’ based on how energy efficient and environmentally friendly they are called the Code for Sustainable Homes. Your home is assessed against certain criteria, and you are awarded a level from 1-6 with 6 being the highest level achievable.  Which level you get awarded depends on how many of the criteria your home meets, the more criteria met, the higher the level you will get.We will explain what this code is and how you can reach the highest level in another blog.

From 2016 onwards, the government wants all new houses to be built to level 6 of these standards, level 6 is the highest of these standards and to get rated at this level, all of the new homes will need to be completely zero carbon to comply with this.

Here at Building Tectonics, we’ve been working with some new software on a project recently, and have been able to create a 3D model of a code 6 eco house we have designed for a client. We have created a short video which takes you around the exterior of the project.

If you’d like to view our first ever youtube video, then click here!

Written by Jade Turney – Building Tectonics Ltd.