The true value of a warm, dry home is more than just financial.
Warm in winter and cool in summer – it’s a simple recipe for a liveable home, and one that is increasingly under the spotlight. In state housing and the rental market, especially, there’s a big push to ensure all tenants live in healthy homes. That’s why, from July 2019, legislation will ensure all rentals have proper insulation.
However, many well-maintained private homes suffer the same problems: a lack of adequate insulation and efficient heating and cooling systems. According to a government-funded survey, over half of homes have poor insulation and mould. These are problems that not only have an adverse effect on residents’ health, but also negatively impact a home’s value.
“A dry, healthy and warm home will always have greater appeal in the market,” says Daniel Coulson, Bayleys’ national residential manager. “Even though heating and ventilation features are not always visually apparent, buyers sense when a home has that nice, liveable feel. Whether they are aware of it or not, buyers use every sense when inspecting a property.”
Fortunately, there are many ways to ensure your home is warm and dry. Efficient heaters are relatively inexpensive, and are economical to run when combined with effective insulation. Together they will keep your living areas cosy, and help potential buyers warm to your home’s full potential.
Heat pumps are the most energy-efficient heating option, followed by modern wood-burners. Flued gas heaters are another choice, although they are more expensive to run.
Wood-burners have the benefit of being exceptionally economical if you have access to free or cheap firewood, but the logistics of maintaining a supply of dry timber in urban locations means there is good reason heat pumps are the top choice in most homes.
For large living areas heat pumps are ideal, although they can be expensive and cumbersome to install in smaller rooms, such as bedrooms. Ducted heat-pump and heat-transfer systems are a solution, although they can be invasive to fit retrospectively.
For bedrooms, the World Health Organisation recommends a minimum temperature of 16C. For this purpose, panel heaters are ideal. Cheap and easy to install, they have a low heat output, which is great for maintaining a cosy background temperature.
Heat pumps have the added benefit of being able to cool your home. But during summer, this often requires little more than opening windows. Ironically, ventilation is more of an issue in winter, when we keep our windows closed, trapping moisture inside.
Home ventilation systems use fans and ducting to remove moist air and are economical to run. Their downside is that they can suck out heat too. A more energy-efficient option is a heat recovery ventilation (HRV) system, which recycles the heat energy to warm the cool air coming in.
Even in a modern home, ventilation during winter is a major consideration, as new construction methods are more airtight. This means unless ducted outside, moisture produced by your kitchen, bathrooms and laundry will stay inside. High moisture levels are linked to mould and health problems including asthma and allergies. By maintaining a dry warm home, you can be assured that it will also be healthier.
At the heart of the push for liveable homes is good insulation. Building standards mean that houses built over the past 40 years should be insulated – though it doesn’t hurt to check if your roofing batts are still up to the job, and all windows and doors are sealed.
Many councils have rate programmes offering low-interest loans to cover home insulation, so there’s no excuse not to have your home properly insulated. It’s an investment in not only your home, but your health.
“If you invest in insulation, heating and ventilation, the value is not just in providing a healthy home for your family, it flows right through,” says Coulson. “The value exists not only in resale, but also in reduced maintenance costs. For all vendors in the market – providing a warm, safe and liveable home is one of the keys to a great sale.”