The World Health Organisation recommends that a "safe and well-balanced" indoor temperature for a home during winter be above 18 degrees Celsius. But some Australian homes fall below this recommendation and many people are really feeling the cold. This problem is compounded with rising energy and cost of living expenses, which affect those on low incomes more severely.
Due to the physical and mental health issues that can arise from living in a cold home, we're going to take a look into how you can mitigate this problem by draught-proofing your home, why it's important, and what you can do.
Just remember that if you need support or someone to talk to, our Sonder support team is available 24/7 to chat whenever you need it.
Why are cold homes bad for us?
Besides the obvious discomfort of living in a cold home, housing with low temperatures affects people's physical health by increasing the risk of illnesses such as the cold and flu, and can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, respiratory illness and communicable diseases. Vulnerable people with existing health conditions and the elderly are especially at risk of being affected negatively by cold homes.
In addition to the physical issues, cold housing can lead to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety due to worries about not being able to afford to heat your home, the drudgery of an uncomfortable living environment, or the sadness of not being able to provide your family warmth.
What is a draught?
A draught is a rush of cold air (in winter) or hot air (in summer) caused by gaps and cracks in your home. Common spots where draughts can come through include:
Poorly sealed areas around windows and door frames
Exhaust fans and wall air conditioners
Fireplaces and chimneys
Gaps between floorboards and wall materials.
What is draught-proofing and why is it important?
As it says on the tin, draught-proofing is all about identifying all those areas in your home where air rushes in and blocking them so that everything is more comfortable and energy efficient.
Up to 25% of a home's heat is lost due to draughts (with windows being a big culprit), which negatively affects warmth and comfort. Energy Australia estimates that air leakages into your home can also increase heating and cooling costs by 25%, so it's doubly important to make sure your home is well protected against draughts.
What can I do to draught-proof my home?
It's important to first identify where the draughts are coming from. It's no good blocking areas where you think the air leakages are only for your home to still be freezing. Here are some ways to identify where draughts are:
Look for obvious gaps such as visible light under or around doors and windows.
Listen for rattles or whistling, especially during strong winds, around doors and windows.
Feel for moving air around doors, windows, fireplaces, air outlets, vents, stairways, floorboards, exposed rafters and beams, built-in heaters and air conditioners, architraves and skirting boards.
Look for movement in and around curtains.
Once the draughts have been identified, here are some ways to block any air leakage:
Use heavy, lined curtains that fall below the window.
Seal gaps using insulation strips or caulk (a waterproof filler).
For internal doors, use a 'door snake' to cover up air leakages.
For external doors, use a plastic or metal door seal with wipers.
For door edges, use adhesive weather stripping.
Exhaust fans, vents, and evaporative cooling units
Fit a cover over any evaporative cooling outlets, especially during winter, to eliminate air leakage through the louvres.
For fans that don't have self-closing louvres, purchase a cover to place over the fan.
Use a ventilation cover for old exhaust fans.
Chimney and fireplaces
Install chimney balloons at the throat of the chimney, or dampers at the top or throat of the chimney.
Use fireplace dampers to block airflow.
Use silicone sealants for areas exposed to the weather.
Use caulking products for smaller gaps.
Use expandable foam fillers for larger holes and gaps.
Many of these supplies can be found online or at a local hardware store.
If you have any questions or need extra support, we're here to help you anytime in any language. Simply start a chat with us via the home screen of the Sonder app.
Information sourced from: ABC, Australian Energy Foundation, CSIRO, The Conversation, Energy Australia. and Sustainability Victoria.
Image credit: The Simpsons
All content is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice.