Taking care of the efficient management of energy in our home is one of the basic premises of those of us who care about caring for the environment. Managing the temperature of our house in an ecological way is possible and we will tell you about it below.
Managing the temperature of the home in a sustainable way is beneficial both for our health and for the carbon footprint that we generate.
It is not just about heating and cooling, but also about living a little longer, observing and interacting with where we live to save energy.
We all like comfort, keeping us warm in winter and cool in summer. But all that gas or electric heating and cooling may be our household's single largest contributor to CO.2 , and also a significant economic expense.
The good news is that we can make a big difference by making small and simple behavior changes, or adjustments, in our home and environment.
As a first challenge, we will aim to actively manage the temperature in our home when possible, and turn off the air conditioning and heating whenever possible.
Already by doing this, we will drastically reduce the carbon footprint of the home, and we will also save a lot on energy bills.
Some key questions:
Let's think about the following questions and then devise a plan to act on those answers.
How can I use natural sources of heating and cooling: sun for winter heat and breeze and shade for summer?
The answer to this question will depend on where we live, so let's start with brainstorming.
No matter where we live, there are many simple things that can be done to better regulate the temperature of the home, regardless of where it is located.
How can I change my behavior to better suit the climate in which I live?
AHA. Now we are really getting to the core.
Like many actions and habits we can take to lessen our impact on our climate (and often increase our health and happiness as a side effect) ...it's as much about our own behavior and rethinking that as anything else.
So. Here are some examples. Let's write what kinds of things we could do at home:
- Use the rooms when they feel most comfortable: One could be great as an office in winter when it's hot and light, but turn it into a spare room in summer when the afternoon sun is unbearably hot.
- Close windows, curtains, and outside blinds early on hot days.
- Open the correct windows at night to allow cooler air in.
- Using fans, which are much more efficient than air conditioners.
- Cook outside regularly in summer.
- Work in the garden, go for a walk or run in the morning on cold days to warm up.
- Dressing in layers of clothing, having a thermos of tea ready, and keeping a hot water bottle on your lap or under your feet - always think and do these things first, before deciding that you need extra heating.
- Get up every half hour or so so as not to be so still and activate circulation in winter.
How can I adapt my environment?
Once we've worked out the behavior changes we can make to help with the heating and cooling, it's time to get on with the house. Some examples…
- Seal the gaps to prevent heat loss in winter. Get a door snake (cloth roll with sand), seal the drafts.
- Windows are generally where heat is lost the most, so it is important to use curtains, if they are heavy, they work better to insulate the house than thin material blinds or wooden or metal Venetian blinds.
- Carpets! If the floor is thin and not insulated, rugs can make a big difference to both your comfort and a room's heat retention capabilities. Even if there is already carpet downstairs.
- Furniture - Make sure nothing is blocking airflow for both the cool summer breeze and winter heat. Moving living rooms so that a heater overheats the room directly can make a big difference to your overall warmth and happiness.
- Take a look at wood burning stoves to heat your home, food and water all at the same time. If it works with local sustainable wood, this may be an incredible solution for some. An example is the rocket or Russian stoves.
- Consider a passive solar greenhouse of some kind (DIY or built) on the side of the house that faces the equator, to increase winter warming potential. Investigate the trombre wall.
- Consider using double glazing for the windows, which will notably insulate the house.
- Grow plants directly outside west-facing windows to protect them and increase indoor humidity.
As always, how we approach this challenge will depend entirely on where we live and how much control we have over the home.
But there are definitely many options to do to actively control the temperature of our house.
Some resources to get you started ...
- Natural building: passive house, active people: passive solar houses and active people.
- How to Map the Sun on Your Site - Excellent starting point for calculating your potential solar gain.
- David Holmgren's RetroSuburbia - Here are a ton of cool passive / active house temperature design ideas.
- Heating your home efficiently 52 climate actions: protection against drafts, windbreaks, insulation, windows, heating and more.
- Sustainable house by Michael Mobbs (CHOICE Books, 2010) - sustainable house in central Sydney.
- Passive Design - Your Home Australian Government - Passive Design Elements - Lots of resources here.
- How to save money and energy to heat your rental apartment - NY times.