5 Ways to Design a Home For Warmth in Winter
In the chilly winter months, it’s crucial to create a cosy living environment. For architects and builders, structuring heating into the fabric of the building can create a cocoon from the elements.
Incorporating energy-efficient design strategies and materials can significantly optimise a home’s warmth retention. If done right, the foundational design can drastically reduce – or even completely negate – the need for traditional, costly heating methods. With volatile energy prices looking highly likely in the coming decades, this is an important way to reduce long-term costs for residents while improving thermal comfort.
In addition, using energy-efficient strategies is a major factor in reducing the carbon footprint of a home. This is integral for the health of the planet and Australia’s goal of reaching Net Zero Emissions by 2050. Energy-efficient design is also essential to meet the recently updated requirements of the Australian National Construction Code (NCC).
What are the most recent energy efficiency standards set by the NCC?
As per the 2022 revision, the latest guidelines for new residential constructions, including apartment buildings, are as follows:
- To meet the thermal performance requirements, new residential buildings must achieve a minimum of 7 stars under NatHERS (Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme).
- A new comprehensive Whole-of-Home Rating is now mandatory for new homes. This rating encompasses various aspects such as heating and cooling systems, hot water systems, lighting, swimming pool and spa pumps, as well as windows and doors. While renewable and sustainable energy systems, like solar panels, are not obligatory, they can be installed to help keep a home’s energy consumption within a reasonable budget.
Let’s explore five design strategies in more detail that help achieve these requirements and keep a home both warm and energy efficient.
One of the key elements of energy-efficient and sustainable design is effective insulation, which helps to prevent heat loss and maintain a comfortable indoor temperature. It begins by insulating a home’s walls, roof, and floors. This can be done by adding insulation material like fibreglass or cellulose. If undertaking a renovation, seal any gaps or cracks around windows, doors, and other openings to minimise drafts and heat leakage.
Choosing uPVC window frames is also a smart choice to improve insulation. uPVC (unplasticised polyvinyl chloride) is a highly insulating material that helps to reduce heat transfer.
It is the material used by Thermotek in the frames for our sustainable, high-performance windows. Our multi-chambered design and fusion-welded joints create excellent thermal insulation properties, preventing cold air from seeping in and reducing heat loss. These frames also offer insulation from sound, minimising outdoor noise infiltration and creating a peaceful indoor environment.
Appropriate Orientation To Harness The Sun’s Energy
Good orientation ensures that a home can harness the sun’s extraordinary energy. Maximise the use of sunlight by strategically placing windows on the southern side of a house, where they can receive the most sunlight during the day. Large south-facing windows allow for the absorption of solar heat, which can significantly reduce the need for additional heating, as well as artificial lighting.
Along with large windows and open floor plans to promote solar heat gain during the day, thermal mass materials like concrete or stone can absorb and store the sun’s warmth, releasing it gradually when the temperature drops.
Installing concrete floors or walls retains warmth during cloudy days or nights, offering an effective means of temperature regulation.
A key advantage of this approach lies in its simplicity and cost-effectiveness in reducing energy consumption. It eliminates the need for mechanical systems such as heating or air conditioning, while also enhancing the aesthetic appeal of a building through ample natural light.
Additional energy-efficient strategies include zoning, shading and window-glazing to achieve a strong Whole-of-Home rating. While all types of glazing allow for heat gain, it is only through double or triple-glazed windows that heat loss can be effectively mitigated.
Thermotek products provide the flexibility to choose the desired level of glazing. Our Smart Slide Systems are specifically designed for seamless integration, allowing for easy connection between indoor and outdoor spaces. With spacious dimensions, these products excel in heat insulation, structural stability, and sealing while ensuring effortless operation.
Our windowpanes also optimise the power of the sun through low-emissivity (low-E) glass, which further enhances solar heat gain. Low-E glass reduces heat transfer while still allowing sunlight to pass through.
uPVC window frames complement energy-efficient design by effectively capturing and retaining solar heat. Their low conductivity and tight seals ensure that the warmth generated during the day remains trapped inside, reducing the reliance on artificial heating sources.
High-Performance Windows for Airtight Energy Efficiency
Proper sealing is essential for maintaining a cosy and draft-free home. If you’re renovating an older home, check for gaps and cracks around windows, doors, electrical outlets, and plumbing fixtures, and seal them with weatherstripping or caulk. This prevents cold drafts from entering and warm air from escaping.
For new builds or major renovations, choose airtight Thermotek uPVC window frames. Their advanced sealing capabilities contribute significantly to air sealing. The fusion-welded joints and weather-resistant gaskets create a tight barrier against outside air, ensuring a snug fit and reducing heat loss through gaps. Thermotek sliding door systems also feature a state-of-the-art locking mechanism and superior sealing technology, ensuring exceptional airtightness. The absence of brushes in their design further enhances their sealing capabilities.
Moreover, Thermotek products feature robust concealed hardware that guarantees long-lasting performance with minimal maintenance requirements, offering both convenience and durability.
Neutralise Thermal Bridges
Unlike aluminium frames, which need to be thermally broken to be appropriate for passive houses, uPVC window frames like Thermotek’s do not conduct heat. This means they effectively prevent high temperatures from entering a house during summer and escaping during winter, reducing the reliance on air conditioning and heating systems.
In fact, when combined with double or triple glazing, uPVC frames can potentially eliminate the need for heating altogether in milder climates such as those experienced in parts of Australia. It offers superior thermal performance, meaning enhanced energy efficiency and lower utility bills.
uPVC is also an incredibly hardy material – it gets stronger with each reuse – meaning that it requires little maintenance and offers strong resistance against harsh weather. Thanks to the aforementioned innovative locking mechanism and high-quality technology, Thermotek windows and doors ensure an airtight seal against air, wind, and rain.
Furthermore, the stable concealed hardware of Thermotek products requires minimal maintenance, providing added convenience and durability.
Use Thermal Design Features to Enhance Warmth
Energy efficiency can also be enhanced by thermal fabrics after the build. For example, curtains and blinds play a vital role in keeping your home warm during winter.
Opt for thick, lined curtains made of insulating materials like velvet or wool. When closed at night, these curtains create an additional barrier against cold air infiltration and help to retain heat.
You might consider integrating thermal blinds, which have a reflective backing to bounce heat back into the room. They can effectively reduce heat loss through windows, providing an extra layer of insulation.
Using Energy Efficient Techniques and Fabrics Means Low Embodied Emissions
Embodied energy or emissions refers to the total energy consumed during a home’s construction, encompassing activities such as mining, harvesting, manufacturing, transportation, and installation.
Thermotek windows and doors have low embodied energy and are manufactured using low-waste techniques and minimising material wastage during production. This approach reduces environmental impact, promotes sustainability and aligns with the NCC and Australia’s goal of reaching Net Zero Emissions by 2050.
The uPVC used in the window frames, being 100% recyclable and sustainable, offers the added benefits of low maintenance and easy installation – also keeping energy usage low.
Future-proof your building project against cold winter nights and reduce long-term costs and environmental impact in the process. Contact us today to learn more about Thermotek products and how they can help you and your clients achieve fantastic thermal comfort in an energy-efficient and sustainable way.