Are you looking for cost-effective retrofit solutions to help lower the cost of keeping your home comfortable all year round?
Hi, I’m Maurice Beinat, Chief Technical Officer for ecoMaster, and I’m going to be your guide.
So exactly how much can you save?
From personal experience, the total bill for our home was reduced by 84%. And that was before solar panels were installed. Our heating bill alone was over $2,500 per year.
Admittedly, it’s a big, multi-generational home and we needed to keep Nanna warm, but significant sums of money can be saved in homes of all shapes, sizes, and ages.
Done once – with quality materials installed correctly – retrofitting for thermal comfort is an investment in your home that offers an immediate, noticeable and long term increase in your comfort with no recurrent costs.
How and Where You’re Losing Money
This diagram released by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Victoria (SEAV) and the Your Home Technical Manual, says it all about where heat leaves (and enters) your home.
The Three Most Cost Effective Things You Can Do About It
From retrofitting our own house and in our two decades as a successful business assessing and retrofitting some 20,000 others, we recommend the following path, in order of priority:
1. Seal Gaps, Kill Draughts
If the above diagram isn’t depressing enough and you’re one for sobering facts and figures, consider these:
- in 2015, the CSIRO calculated that draughts in the average Australian home contributed 15-25% to winter heat loss.
- in that same home, if the gaps through which most draughts enter a home were combined, it would be the equivalent of leaving a 1m2 window open. All year. Every year.
All houses move over time, particularly if they’re timber framed and built on stumps. As floors and walls move, gaps open up around floorboards, doors and windows and air enters and leaves as it wishes.
These are compounded by unsealed holes in the building fabric left by pipes, fans, vents and, above all, by disused chimneys. In the most draughty homes, up to 50 percent of heating and cooling energy will be lost working overtime to keep you comfortable. And you’ll end up doing the same to pay for it.
We’ve found draught proofing to offer four major advantages to our very satisfied customers:
- Draught proofing is the most cost effective first step anyone can take towards a more energy efficient home.
- It can be done in stages, as and when you have the time and means.
- It can be DIY installed to a high standard by residents themselves.
- The beneficial effects are immediately apparent.
And we’re confident in saying this because we’ve devoted a great deal of time and energy researching or developing draught proofing products that are durable and affordable; and installation techniques that ensure that they will continue to work for you in the years ahead.
There are certainly cheaper alternatives. Stick on weather seals and door snakes come to mind. No doubt they come to yours as well. And probably because you’ve already experienced how temporary and inconvenient their contribution always is.
ecoMaster only sells the best and the proven:
- Draught Dodgers and Draught Excluders to seal gaps and draughts through all the most common types of windows and doors and even some of the more exotic.
- FulSeal 701 Ultraclear Sealant to caulk the tiny gaps and cracks between floorboards and around architraves, window frames, and vents.
Over the years, we’ve tried every type of sealant on the market and we now exclusively use Fullers Fulaseal Ultraclear because:
- It’s easily applied by caulking gun.
- It’s odour-free (and free of VOCs).
- It’s white when applied so you can monitor your progress.
- It turns clear when dry so you don’t have to hope you’ve correctly colour matched wood filler or putty.
- It’s water based so it’s easy to clean surplus or spills.
- It expands and contracts as your home moves. Wood filler and putty don’t. They fall out.
- In short, it’s perfect for the DIYer.
By now, nearly everyone will be aware of the need for insulation.
But not everyone appreciates exactly how important it can be in upgrading older homes. Once again, the SEAV and the Your Home Technical Manual, in the diagram below, show exactly where seasonal heat gains and losses occur and the influence insulation can therefore have in improving your comfort all year round.
I dealt with air leakage (draughts) in the section above and explained why ecoMaster regards it as the first priority for any household, regardless of the DIY experience available.
So let’s look at the options:
Ceiling insulation – can be a DIY project, but it’s a big one and can lead to damaged ceilings.
Wall insulation – If you’re prepared for the mess and dislocation of removing sections of your plasterboard walls and have the skills to make good, then insulating walls from inside your home can be a DIY project as well. But insulating from the outside using drills and pumped insulation, is clearly work for specialist contractors.
In spite of their differences in DIY friendliness, the two things they have in common are that, whichever job you’re thinking of tackling:
- Unlike draught proofing, you can’t really do it bit by bit if you want to realise the full benefit – you really need to do it all
- and because of that, the size of the investment that you will have to make increases accordingly. That’s unfortunate, but there’s no getting around it.
Floor insulation – floors are a little different.
If you’ve got an uninsulated concrete floor, then I’m afraid you’re going to be stuck with it. Better to concentrate on the more accessible parts of your home – walls, ceilings and windows.
But if you have an uninsulated timber floor suspended on stumps, and have access underneath it, the prospects are more encouraging – particularly if you’ve already draught proofed it from the inside the house by sealing the gaps.
But before getting dirty, here’s five important things you need to consider:
- Access – you’ll need at least 40cm of crawl space (a little bit under knee height) to be able to access your joists.
- Underfloor obstacles – by this, I’m generally referring to:
- debris from when your home was built – the easy choice for most builders
- asbestos – the easy choice for most renovators
- Tools – not many at all and we can supply the staplers and staples you’ll need, but a tolerance for dust, confined spaces and insects is a definite advantage.
- Know How – make no mistake, it’s a big job, but if you follow our comprehensive online masterclasses – all born of yours of successful underfloor installation work – you’ll find it’s manageable.
- Insulation material – ecoMaster’s Polyester is the best insulation material available and for these four reasons:
- it incorporates at least 45% recycled polyester
- it doesn’t lose its loft
- it’s guaranteed for 50 years
- unlike other insulation materials, polyester can withstand heat, moisture, and pest infestation.
2. Double-glaze your windows
Again, going back to the diagram, very worthwhile. Why lose up to 20% of your winter heat? Why pay to regain it? All without actually feeling any more comfortable.
So again, let’s look at the options:
Ripping out the old single glazed windows and replacing them with double glazed. Sure – it’s an option, especially if you live in a heritage listed building, have no choice, bottomless pockets and a taste for the chaos that the work and associated repairs always drags in its wake.
Secondary Glazing – for when none of these attractions apply.
A secondary glazed window:
- has a glass pane – or more often a plastic film or acrylic sheet – fixed on the inside to create a layer of still air to slow down heat loss
- Isn’t as good an insulator as a quality double glazed unit with a 12-15mm air space but it does offer a 50% increase in the thermal performance of your present window and at a fraction of the cost
- stays exactly where it is, so there’s no costly or lengthy reinstatement work is necessary
- fits in with the existing look of your home
Some of the secondary glazing systems are deliberately aimed at the DIYer – anything involving bubble wrap and stretch film, for instance. They’re cheap, cheerful and slightly better than nothing. They’re also hard on the eye and short lived. As with most things in life -”you pays your money, you takes your choice.”
But a quality secondary glazed window is an EcoGlaze window.
Our proprietary secondary glazing system uses:
- has a verified performance
- uses high quality acrylic sheet
- uses high quality, custom manufactured hardwood or aluminium mouldings
- uses high quality magnetic seals
Traditionally, a custom assessment and installation service, ecoGlaze is also being launched as a DIY format complete with installation videos.
To try to minimise upfront cost, most homeowners would opt for just one and forego the other retrofit solutions. Unfortunately, this is common. Thermal comfort is an ecosystem made up of all these essential aspects and each one yields increasingly better results when together with the other components.
If you want to experience long-term comfort and enjoy a home that’s cheaper to run for years ahead, we recommend that you apply these changes completely. You can choose to implement them all at once or over time, depending on your budget.
If you have questions, please contact us at www.ecoMaster.com.au/contact