ARTICLE Libby Schultz
With a $10,000 budget the priority is to ensure your ceilings and floors are properly insulated, as well as finding an affordable heating solution. There are also some quick-win household tips for achieving a healthier, warmer home that cost next-to-nothing.
How do I warm up my home with a basic budget?
There’s a simple equation for turning a cold, damp house into a warm and dry one.
According to Richard Popenhagen, an Eco Design Adviser, it all comes down to three key things – you need to reduce moisture, insulate and draught-proof, then heat.
It’s critical that you address all three, and in that order. If you haven’t insulated your ceiling, for instance, your new heat pump will be little more than an expensive wall ornament.
Kim Reiche from Refresh Renovations agrees: “When meeting with clients on any kind of renovation, we’re always thinking about how to improve the thermal performance of the house. That starts with insulation and draught-proofing.”
Kim completed a renovation last year in a house that was so damp, wallpaper would no longer adhere to the walls.
“We relined and insulated the ceiling and walls, and replaced the window aluminium with a really good draught-proof Fletchers’ product. It totally transformed the house…the owners told me they never had to turn the heat pump on all winter.”
What are some basic insulation options?
Everyone agrees you need insulation – but what kind? It’s certainly not a case of one-size-fits-all.
“There’s a huge variety of insulation available,” says Kim.
“It helps to get some independent expert advice, like your Refresh project manager, because their only focus is getting the right product for your home.”
There are a number of different factors to consider, starting with whether anyone in your household has allergies to certain products.
“Access to your ceiling cavity is another big factor,” says Kim.
“If access is tricky, you might have to use a blow-in application. Or if there are any moisture issues in your blockwork, you’d install a non-absorbent polystyrene after waterproofing.”
While insulation is usually installed in the exterior walls only, there’s no reason why it can’t do double-duty.
“We recently did some sound insulation in the interior walls between bathrooms,” says Kim.
“In another project, we relined a garage ceiling area with a black expol, which provided both warmth and sound insulation.”
Should I install double-glazed windows?
In some Building Code’s, you’re required to install double-glazed windows if you’re building a new home – but not necessarily for a renovation. Regulations aside, though, it’s always a good idea.
There’s two ways to approach it, says Kim.
“If your joinery is relatively new and draught-free, you may choose to retrofit the double-glazed glass only. But this is not always simple to do, and it can be expensive.”
“It’s more common to replace the aluminium as well. If you’re taking the whole window structure out, it’s also a prime opportunity to reline and insulate your outer walls.”
If your budget doesn’t stretch to double-glazing just yet, it pays to invest in good thermal curtains.
“Always make sure your curtains reach right to the floor, or you’ll get a reverse chimney effect,” says Richard.
“The other critical thing is to use layers…whether it’s net curtains, fleecy fabric or interlining. Layers are actually proven to be more effective than thermal-backed curtain fabric.”
What are some tips to create a warm household?
When advising home-owners on creating a warm household, Richard says moisture management is a key component.
If you want to keep a dry home, three of the big no-no’s include using an unflued gas heater, drying your washing indoors, and creating steam in the kitchen and bathroom. The last point is particularly relevant for renovators.
Explains Richard, “When I ask people if they use their existing rangehood, 90% say they don’t, because of the noise. So if you’re renovating your kitchen, get a rangehood you can live with – most manufacturers now offer noise ratings – and make sure you use it!”
His other top tip is to install a quality extractor fan (of at least 150mm diameter) for your bathroom.
“These cost just a few hundred dollars, and are really important for moisture management. Without an extractor fan, the moisture from your bathroom transfers through the house and becomes window condensation in other rooms.”
Are there any 'smart' options to warm up my home?
Ella Te Huia, director of Smart Energy Homes, certainly walks the talk when it comes to energy efficiency. Her open-plan house, which is home to a family of four, boasts power bills of less than $50 a month.
This is achieved through simple energy-saving measures, along with a 2 kilowatt solar system, which cost around $7,000 to install.
“We have high-density insulation, good thermal-backed curtains, and LED lighting throughout.”
To sum up, Ella Te Huia says a budget of around $10,000 will get you a well-insulated house with some quality heating options.
This includes new insulation for your ceiling and floors, at between $2500 - $4500 for an average-size house (or cheaper, if your insulation only needs a top-up). This budget would also cover a good quality EnergyStar-rated heat pump; plus, a couple of ceramic panel heaters for your hallway.
“If you have space in the hallway, I always recommend putting ceramic panels in between the bedrooms. At around 2-3 kilowatt, they take the chill off the air and save on power bills.”
Another popular choice for those on a budget, according to Bunnings, are micathermic panel heaters (which combine both convection and reflective heat).
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*Costs are rough estimates and are subject to change. For a fixed-quote accurate to your specific project, please consult your local Refresh Renovations specialist. All Refresh Renovations franchises are independently owned and operated.