The colder months might not last long in KwaZulu-Natal, but these eco-friendly tips will help keep your home warm and snug in winter.
The cold weather usually forces us to retreat indoors for warmth and comfort, but rising utility costs is making it more difficult for many South Africans to keep things snug and cosy this winter.
A few changes to your interior decor – both kind to your wallet and the environment – will do more than just amp up the temperature indoors. Well-thought-out ideas that are perfectly executed can go a long way in helping foster a warming ambience that complements your home.
Kim Williams, an interior designer based in Cape Town who has carved a niche for herself as a creative behaviour strategist, reveals her top five tips to lock in the heat and create a toasty home this winter.
Embrace natural light
It is important to consider the natural light in a home as this is a free source of heat. South Africa is extremely fortunate in that we still get a lot of sun in our winter months which can help increase the natural temperature of our home.
The direction and amount of sunlight that hits different rooms in your home will depend on which way the building faces. Good architects will design a home that maximises the northern sun as this harnesses both the morning and afternoon sun rays.
Once you have identified the source of sunlight, you can take steps to exploit it. A house that gets lots of western sun in the summer, for example, will probably require blinds to dress large windows and keep the house cool in the warmer months, but these can be opened to maximise the beautiful sun in the cooler months. Remember, a sunnier room also impacts us psychologically, positively elevating our mood during the gloomy winter weather.
Check your floor and wall finishes
Another way to conserve heat is to use good vinyl or wood composite products available on the market as they retain heat and insulate the house far better than tiles, concrete, or stone flooring. These are just as hygienic as tiles, and most are of a good quality. They are waterproof too so they can be used in the kitchen and bathroom and allow you to lock in the insulation without losing out on your overall look and feel.
On the walls, I find thicker vinyl wallpapers can warm up a room considerably, as can things like cladding or panel heaters that you can paint in the same or complementary hue to your walls.
Be smart with things you can’t see
Insulating your roof and ceilings is a real must if you want to retain a lot of heat over the entire home. An eco-friendly way to do this is to incorporate recycled materials that are cheaper but just as effective. If you are building your home from the ground up, or adding an extension to an existing home, ask your builder about the permeability of the bricks being used. Although more expensive, clay bricks tend to retain heat far better than cement bricks do.
And be even smarter with the things you can see
Installing good quality doors and windows to reduce heat from escaping is a good place to start, as is including strips to seal off doors and limit ventilation and draughts.
Enclosing a fireplace is also far more cost-effective than having an open fireplace. We have recently enclosed a wood-burning fire in one of our spaces and I absolutely love the aesthetic of it. You tend to also use a lot less wood which is great. However, if you want to use a gas fire then consider one of the various new mobile options on the market that use eco-friendly and recycled materials for fuel.
Finally, investing in eco-friendly alternatives like LED lighting throughout the entire home is a must. They add a wonderful soft light, which adds beautifully to the cosy winter vibe.\
Lastly, don’t forget the trimmings
Keeping our doors closed is an obvious way to save heat during the colder months, but what about our windows? In South Africa, the glass used in our windows is not double layered like in many European countries, and, as a result, we end up losing a lot of heat through our windows and glass doors.
Some people put in double glazing, but this can be costly. A smarter alternative is to incorporate layered curtaining fabric, with a thicker 80% plus block-out material over a light sheer for summer, to help retain heat and keep a room feeling warm and welcoming. For added effect, consider complementing your decor with some gorgeous throws and rugs and lighting plenty of scented candles.