Natural medicine, vitamins and nutrition are just one of the factors to keep a flu or a cold away. Another way is the old housewife’s order to keep warm and it has proved its merit over the centuries.
Keeping warm with clothes is one option, the other is to warm your house. Just how cold and draughty a home can be, we all have felt when we needed warmth the most: the day of an oncoming flu or cold. How can we “avoid that our house catches a cold” clocking up not medical bills but electricity bills? Over the last decades, the natural recipe to feel snug and warm during winter in our own four walls has somewhat been forgotten.
Most homes favour one season only, and since South Africa is considered a Mediterranean to tropical climate, we can imagine just how many homes are unfit to keep us warm in winter. In fact, since the age of infinite and cheap electricity supply by which heaters and air-conditioners are run, builders and architects alike have often dismissed traditional layouts and insulation secrets for the benefit of good looking designs, large open plan living areas double volume spaces and most of all low building costs.
To avoid catching a cold inside, one has to quite simply keep the cold out of the house and the warmth inside the house. Not really a secret. Once the principles of how hot and cold move have been understood, keeping warm is really simple and saves money.
Natural energy patterns move hot and cold air around in an often unseen fashion. Any home is practically a microclimatic zone and features natural weather patterns through convection, conduction and radiation. These “In-house weather” patterns collaborate in many ways.
The classic “chimney effect” is hot air rising and cool air falling. We all know that a balloon filled with warm air will rise. Because hot air expands and thus has more volume than cool air, it is lighter and therefore rises up. Since natural laws apply equally anywhere, the chimney effect is no different in a home and is more prominent in a double volume or double storey home. Any warm air downstairs will rise either directly toward the ceiling or upstairs even leaving the occupants below in the cold despite the hard working heater.
Some of you might now wonder about a real fireplace chimney? You got it: up to 75% of the heat generated by an open fireplace is equally drawn up through the chimney by the chimney effect. And it gets worse: an oxygen hungry open fire will draw fresh oxygen from wherever it can, a crack in the window, a gap under the door. The result is a constant supply of fresh cool outside air into your rooms. Snugness and warmth have very little chance to build up. The only place in the whole home that really feels warm is right in front of the fireplace.
• close doors to upstairs unless you want the warm air to flow upstairs to the bedrooms
• reverse ceiling fans to bring warm air down from the ceiling area
• close doors to unused rooms
• close your unused fireplace for there is a perfect “chimney”
• ensure all windows in the home are closed
• cover vents
• insulate windows and doors,
• eliminate cracks and gaps in doors and windows
• close any holes in the ceiling, watch out for unused down-lighter shafts.
• Close up open keyholes
In scientific terms conduction is the transfer of thermal energy between neighbouring molecules in a substance due to temperature gradient. It always takes place from a region of higher temperature to a region of lower temperature, and acts to equalize temperature differences. In home terms, warmth that builds up just below our ceilings, because of the chimney effect, will then move through the ceiling boards to equalize with the colder temperature that sits in the attic. How quickly the warmth will get through depends on the resistance of the material, the so called R-value. Like our bodies which need flees and thick warm cotton jumpers, our homes need insulation, too, to increase the R-value of the materials that separate cold from warm, because warmth will always try its best to escape to colder regions. Best refrigerant recovery machine