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Keep Warm In Winter
With An Energy Efficient Home

All we want in winter is to stay warm and cosy at home. A well protected winter home starts with good design and construction choices. There are also many strategies you can implement if you are already in your home.
An energy efficient home is designed to take advantage of the sun's warmth and light in winter. In Victoria there is an energy-efficiency rating. A 5 star design is economical to run, will save you significant costs in heating and electricity and need not cost much more to build.

The ecological benefits of a 5 star home are substantial, saving Victoria more than 200,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases annually within five years.
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This is the equivalent to removing 45,000 cars from our roads, or planting 750,000 trees.
This article is jam-packed full of tips to make sure your energy efficient home keeps you warm throughout winter.

Creatively practical

Good home design is about balance. It's about observing the practical requirements of structure, council, environment and timeliness while also foregrounding the emotional resonance the building should elicit.

Achieving this balance is the key to creating home designs that are tailored to individual needs. But achieving balance is also about having points of contact across all the vital aspects of a project.

For this reason DCF Design Group pride ourselves on our concept-to-construction approach, by which we assist clients, council and contractors throughout the entire building process. This intimate relationship with our projects is what sets us apart in the field of home design.

Orientation And Planning

The orientation of your home will depend on the climate where you live. Generally speaking, the ideal orientation is to have day time living spaces facing north, with bedrooms and utility rooms facing south.

This is not always possible, but the aim is always to maximise passive solar design. Variations of up to 30 degrees east and 20 degrees west of true north will still give your energy efficient home significant advantages.

The following points should be considered when selecting a block of land:
  1. Size and orientation of the block (having sufficient space to allow sun entry when required)
  2. Solar access to the north side of the house (for winter sun entry)
  3. Slope of the block (to enable sun entry)
  4. Tree coverage and height (to avoid too much shading)
  5. Height and proximity of surrounding buildings (to avoid overshadowing)

Building Materials  

Again, you need to take climate into account when choosing building materials. Most temperate regions in Australia have cold winters but often a few months of extreme heat in summer. Keep in mind these following facts for your energy efficient home:
  • Construction materials such as concrete and brick can act as thermal mass which basically absorbs and holds large amounts of heat. This heat is then released when the air becomes cooler. These materials are most effective when insulated from the outside.
  • In temperate climates, tiled, concrete or slate floors and internal masonry (cavity brick, concrete block, reverse brick veneer) walls assist in moderating temperatures inside the home.
  • Carpeting a concrete floor will greatly reduce its effectiveness in storing and releasing heat.

Use Landscaping For Weather Protection  

Many people think of landscaping mainly in terms of providing shade in summer, and this is certainly an important factor. However you can also protect your house from cold winter winds by planting a windbreak of trees.

Deciduous trees planted outside north facing windows are a good addition to your energy efficient home as they provide shade in summer but still allow warming sunlight and natural light to enter in winter (reducing both heating and lighting costs).

Ventilation And Draughts

 There is a big difference between ventilation (that allows desirable air flow and cool breezes in summer) and draughts. Draughts are to be avoided at all costs - as they let hot air enter in summer and make it difficult to keep rooms warm in winter. In winter, draughts can account for up to 25% of heat loss. This translates to hefty electricity bills and a far from energy efficient home. Any gaps around doors and windows in your home can be sealed with weather stripping.
New houses should be built to minimise draughts. Avoid gaps at construction joints between different wall materials, and where walls join or meet the ceiling and the floor. Ensure that doors and windows fit snugly in their frames.

Draughts can be further reduced by:
  • Draught proofing doors and windows
  • Sealing up cracks and gaps
  • Sealing unnecessary vents
  • Sealing exhaust fans and outlet grills
  • Sealing unused fireplaces
  • Sealing vented skylights
  • Covering ceiling evaporative ducts during the colder months


Insulation is the number one priority when it comes to creating an energy efficient home. Minimum levels of insulation are now mandatory in most states in Australia through the 4 star legislation.

Correct insulation can make your home up to 5 oC warmer in winter 10 oC cooler in summer. In an uninsulated house approximately 40% of heat loss takes place through the roof and ceiling, whilst around 35% of heat is lost through walls and floors.
Insulation saves you money on both the purchase of heating equipment (reduced size of necessary unit) and on operating costs. Keep in mind that insulation may not be as effective in houses with large areas of unshaded windows - particular if the house is not well ventilated.

Insulation Materials

  • Blanket & Batt insulation. There is a range of bulk insulation materials which come in two forms, either in long rolls (called blankets) which must be cut to fit the length of space, or in precut lengths (called batts).
  • Loose fill insulation has no backing and is supplied loose. It is simply poured or pumped into a wall cavity or roof space.
  • Rigid insulation comes in pre-cut boards that are used primarily in new home construction and are ideal for insulating areas such as raked ceilings, solid brick external walls, under wooden floors and around concrete slabs.
  • Reflective foil insulation works by reflecting large amounts of heat from its highly polished metallic surface, and transmitting very little heat due to the emissivity of the product. Due to these characteristics it is more effective in summer than winter.


 Double glazed windows are effective at slowing heat losses to the outside, and so they are very popular in cold climates. Ideally all north facing windows should be full length, so when the winter sun is low in the sky, the heat will penetrate well into your house - creating a very effective energy efficient home. Use minimum glass on the east and west sides, and small glass areas on the south side of the house.

The total window area should be less than 25% of the total floor area of the house (these proportions are a guide only, as new energy rating software for houses considers a range of design features and glazing options when assessing the overall rating of the house). If windows are made too large they can make the house hard to keep warm on cloudy winter days and nights.

You can reduce heat loss by using close fitting curtains, blinds and pelmets to trap the heat between them and the glass.

Water Heating

We all like a nice hot shower on winter mornings. There are two key tips for winter water usage for your energy efficient home:
  1. A solar hot water system can reduce your energy consumption by around 30% and save up to 80% on water heating bills.
  2. Using low flow shower roses, water efficient appliances and insulating hot water pipes substantially reduces water and energy use.

In Summary Top 5 Tips for a Cosy Winter Home

Creating an energy efficient home need not be overly costly or difficult. It's all about planning, design and good decision making. Take these 5 essential tips away with you and enjoy staying warm this winter!
  1. Install insulation (low cost and outstanding energy savings)
  2. Reduce open plan spaces where possible
  3. Fix all draughty doors and windows with new seals
  4. Create zones between living and sleeping spaces (only heat what you need)
  5. North face your living areas