Is your home leaking?
It's post ANZAC day, so you're officially allowed to turn your heaters on, Canberra. But if you were finding it chilly before this unspoken threshold into winter, it's worth considering how leaky your home may be.
In parts of North America and Europe there are legislated standards for air leakage, but it’s a relatively new concept in Australia. The average Canberra home replaces its entire volume in air at least once every hour – but it doesn’t take much to reduce this significantly. Addressing air leakage in homes is the single most cost effective way to reduce energy consumption. Addressing air leakage alone can reduce a home’s power bills and carbon emissions by up to 25%.
Even better, you can easily address air leakage yourself - yes, you! Local ABC radio host and good friend of ours, Lish Fejer, maintains an excellent online resource with simple instructional videos on daught-proofing. Check it out here.
It's important to note that we're not advocating making your house so air tight that it compromises indoor air quality. We don't think its necessary, or cost-effective, in our climate to make houses super air tight to the point that they rely on mechanical ventilation. Using standard construction methods, and simple retrofit strategies, we have shown that homes can be made much less leaky, and much more healthy because of their greatly improved temperature stability.
Also, its important to understand the difference between ventilation and air leakage. Ventilation is the controlled movement of air in and out of your home eg. when you decide to open windows and doors. We are ALL for ventilation - the Canberra climate is fantastic for indoor outdoor living much of the year and designing for good cross ventilation makes good sense. Air leakage is the random uncontrolled movement of air that's happening through the hidden gaps in your building envelope - until you plug these leaks you're fighting a losing battle for energy efficiency, comfort and good ventilation.
For further reading on the drastic effects of air leakage in homes, see this 2012 ACT Government low income housing energy efficiency case study project that our Director/Scientist, Jenny Edwards, consulted on.