Keeping Warm in Winter

Thank you Mother Nature for winter sunshine, and thank you clever architects for knowing how to harness it!

The winter sun is low in the sky, and as a result penetrates deep into our house through the large north facing windows. This warms the house beautifully (we have managed to get the dining room to 31 degrees in July, purely from the sun!). The thermal mass walls capture this heat for use in the evening, as do the concrete floor and the tiles in the bathroom – they get so warm they feel lovely through your socks!

Thick, well insulated walls and ceiling space (we have wool batts in the ceiling as well as air-cell insultation immediately below the roof sheeting – commonly called ‘double insulating’) as well as closing curtains help to hold this warmth in.

Woolbatts arrive

Woolbatts arrive ready to go in the ceiling space.

I have been caught out on more than one occasion where I have gone out ‘underdressed’ for the weather as I simply hadn’t realised how cold the day was – it was warm in my house!

In Katanning, there are more days of sunshine per winter than cloud. Even on the coldest, clearest, frostiest morning, as long as there is sunshine our house will be warm.

However, of course, the rain and clouds do come! By the second or third consecutive day of no sunshine, the house is cooling down. Our heating then comes from a double-sided fireplace installed between the kitchen and lounge room areas. But most locals are surprised at how little we use the fire – particularly in a town where many people have their fires burning continuously from May to September. When we recorded our use, we even surprised ourselves! Our fireplace was perhaps an “expensive purchase for just aesthetic reasons!” as most of the winter it’s dormant.

Year Number of days in winter Number of evenings fire was used Of those evenings, number of days where it was also used during the day
2014 92 days (1 Jun – 31 Aug) 37 15
2015 92 days (1 Jun – 31 Aug) 33 13
Yay! Our first fire.

Our fireplace.

Our firewood is cut sustainably from our farm, but winter 2016 will be the third year of trying to get through the supply cut for winter 2014 – we just don’t use much wood! This is also great for reducing air pollution.