Planet

Cold outside, warm inside, without turning the heat full on

It’s a fact – winters are getting milder and milder. And yet, as soon as the temperature drops, we tend to turn the heating full on, which is not good for our health or the planet. Here are 5 simple, common-sense changes to help us keep warm in winter without increasing our CO2 emissions.

Reduce the feeling of cold

Outside the home, weather forecasters have taught us the difference between actual temperature and apparent temperature. Inside the home as well, factors other than the temperature play a role in overall thermal comfort.
For example, dampness can result in an unpleasant feeling of cold, even if your house is heated to 20°C (68°F). That is why it is so important to make sure all rooms are well aired – a good way of controlling humidity. Even in the middle of winter, open the windows and let fresh air into each room for 5 to 10 minutes a day. Remember to check that your ventilation and air extraction system is working properly, by holding a sheet of paper in front of the air vent. The paper should be pulled towards the grate by suction. If not, you need to clean the vent and get the system checked over by a professional, if necessary. The second cause of apparent cold is draughts that come in through the windows and doors or blow in through the fireplace… Only one solution for this:  draught-proof your home by adding or replacing the door and window seals, installing a shut-off valve at the opening of the chimney duct and sealing off door thresholds with thick curtains and draught excluders. These are all simple, decorative solutions that have proven highly effective!

Make good use of windows and shutters

It’s a well-known fact that air is the best insulator. To prove the point, look no further than double and triple glazing, which traps air between each glass panel. So as soon as it gets dark outside, make sure you close your shutters, to take full advantage of the naturally insulating effect of the air trapped between each window and its shutter. During the day, it’s a different story – open your shutters wide, to let in the natural heat of the sun.

Heating accounts for 60% of a household’s total energy consumption.

Adjust the temperature to suit your needs

ADEME (the French environment and energy control agency) and the public health authorities are on the case: they recommend a temperature of around 19°C (66°F) for the main living areas and 17 to 18°C (63-64°F) for bedrooms. Bearing in mind that lowering the temperature by just 1°C represents an energy saving of 10 % and correspondingly fewer CO2 emissions, and that houses are unoccupied for most of the day, investing in a programmable or smart thermostat is well worth it. A smart move – since you’ll make an energy saving of between 5 and 15% by only heating your home when necessary, to exactly the right temperature.

Out of the woods

The development of wood-fired heating is an important step towards attaining the renewable energy goals set by various countries around the world. However, it is vital to make sure we limit the impact on air quality of wood burning for domestic heating. To do this, only good-quality domestic wood-burning heating appliances should be used, and they must be in proper working order. The choice of fuel is also important.  In France, there is a label to help consumers make sense of the various solutions on the market: the “Flamme Verte” (Green Flame) label, which promotes the use of wood by efficient heating appliances designed in accordance with a Quality Charter which sets performance and pollution control requirements. Manufacturers who sign the “Flamme Verte” charter undertake to comply with those requirements.

Upgrade your insulation

If your house or flat is over ten years old, and you have some savings, put them to good use by investing in thermal insulation before changing your heating system. In the short term, insulating your home is the most efficient way of improving your thermal comfort and reducing your heating bills and the carbon footprint of your house or flat.  This can be done in several stages, focusing firstly on the biggest sources of heat loss. The main culprit is the attic (because 30% of energy loss is via the roof), followed by the walls and floors (each representing 16% of energy loss) and finally, the windows (10 to 13%).

 

If you put into practice all this good advice, feeling cold should be a thing of the past… But if your heating system is more than twenty years old, investing in a new boiler, such as a heat pump, is the most eco-friendly move. Although it costs a fair amount to install, over the long term, it is the most effective way of saving energy (20 to 40% energy saved compared with an ageing heating system) and drastically reducing the carbon footprint of your house or flat.

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