Imagine this, it’s 6am and you’re getting out of bed. You walk barefoot to the kitchen in your summer pj’s to turn on the kettle. You then get your clothes ready for the day. Taking out your warm winter jumper and pants to get ready for work.
Hold on? You might wonder? Winter clothes? Yes, it’s the most miserable day of winter. Yet, even though you didn’t have the heater on, the house is warm and comfortable. 2 degrees outside, nice and warm inside.
How can that be? Is that even possible?
Yes, it is. This is how it should be. This is what happens when you live in a well-insulated energy efficient home. No cold mornings. No layers needed inside the house.
This is how all homes are in Europe, or at least in countries like Germany, Sweden and so on.
Have you ever heard someone from Germany or Sweden complain how cold it is in Melbourne? Yep, this is me. I’ve never ever been as cold in my entire life as I had been in our rental home in Melbourne.
Even though in most European countries it can be really cold. We are talking like minus 10 degrees. The second you get into your home, any house for that matter, you feel nice and warm. You can defrost and feel comfortable. Your heating batteries are full. So, if you go out into the cold you wrap up in as many layers as needed. Knowing you will be nice and warm again when you get home.
In Australia, even though it might only be 10 degrees outside. You can never feel quite comfortable inside. Reason being the houses aren’t insulated well. And or have terrible windows. There are gaps everywhere. Letting cold air in.
I’m sure you know the feeling. You are sitting in your living room. The ducted heating or split system is blasting. Yet, you’re still not feeling comfortable.
There are a few reasons for this. It all goes back to building physics. I don’t want to bore you with the details. So, I’m gonna tell you the basics.
Moving air feels up to 4 degrees cooler than standing air. This is why ceiling fans work so well in summer. Let’s say the room temperature is 30 degrees. Due to the fan and the moving air it will feel like 26 degrees. Meaning you might manage without needing the air con.
But in winter moving air works against you. The cool air coming in through gaps around your windows and insulation keeps the air moving. Coupled with the blowing air from the ducted heating. The air will move too fast. Meaning it will feel colder than what the thermostat says.
This is the reason why hydronic heating, or a fireplace makes you feel much more comfortable. Compared to ducted heating or a split system.
And, why it is important to seal all gaps and cracks. Cold air coming in will make it impossible for you to feel comfortable. It also means you waste a lot of money on heating your house. Or rather blowing air out of your house. Through all the cracks.
Different surface temperatures
I know, this might sound odd. But, if the surfaces around you have a different temperature than the air a draught will occur. The air will move. If the temperature at your feet is 4 degrees colder than at your head, you will feel cold.
This can happen for instance if your floor is insulated but your walls aren’t. Meaning cold can come in and the walls will always be cooler. Or when you have single glazed windows. They will always be cold. No matter what star rating your energy rating assumes.
The real magic happens when you build your house airtight. When no heat can escape. Or vice versa. When no heat can enter in summer. When all surfaces around you have the same temperature. Or close to.
This is one of the reasons I love passive house so much. You really get a well performing and healthy home. A guarantee for thermal comfort. No ifs or buts.
If you would like to live in a comfortable home. A home that feels nice all year around. Please get in touch. We would love to help you make this a reality.