Building a new home is the perfect opportunity to create a home with warmth and cosiness built right in. Here are our top 10 ways, both practical and aesthetic, that can make your new build feel good throughout the seasons…but especially in winter.
1. Multi-layered window glazing
Glass is a terrible insulator and windows are the main source of heat loss and gain in any home. Double-glazing works by trapping a pocket of air (which is not a good conductor of cold or heat) between the two panes of glass. You can even get triple-glazing nowadays, however its incredible insulating performance comes at the cost of needing an extra wide frame to accommodate the extra thick window panes, and it’s not that great if you do want some heat to come though the windows. Light transmission can also be low.
2. How many and how big
While we’re still on windows, reduce the number and size of south-facing windows and make them small. Include more moderate to reasonably large north-facing windows to capture free solar heat. Make sure your north-facing window overhangs are designed to avoid too much sun coming in during summer but still letting in plenty during winter.
3. Good curtains and blinds
More on windows… thick, thermal lined curtains and blinds can significantly reduce heat loss through your windows. According to Energywise “Good curtains and blinds can reduce heat loss through windows by 60% for single glazed windows, and 40-50% for double glazing.”
4. Design for the sun
The position and direction of your home plays a significant part in how warm and cosy it can be. Factor in where the sun hits your site at different times of the year using apps like Sun Seeker or Suncalc.net.
Place the house on the sunniest part of the section, sheltered from prevailing winds (if possible), and have the main living areas facing north.
Ustilise thermal mass by having exposed concrete floors in the places that catch the most sun; during the day the concrete soaks up the heat and slowly releases it when the temperature drops.
5. Size and shape
The larger the house, the harder it is to heat; and the more complex the shape, the more surface area you have to lose heat through. Reducing the number of external corners and going for something simple (rectangular or square) is the best option for thermal performance.
6. Insulation – quality and quantity
There’s no such thing as too much insulation. Minimum standards of insulation apply to every new build but these are the absolute lowest legal requirement. We recommend always going well above this standard. Prioritise ceiling and underfloor insulation, followed by walls. You can even insulate the edges of exposed concrete slab floors to stop heat loss.
7. Keep it dry
A damp home is a difficult home to heat and simply living creates bucket loads of moisture every day. Installing a good ventilation and heat transfer system is the top way of maintaining a nice dry home and even temperature. If you don’t have a concrete slab foundation, plastic sheeting under the house stops rising damp. Install a ShowerDome and extractor fan in the bathroom, a rangehood in the kitchen and make sure your clothes dryer is vented to the outside.
8. A roaring fireplace
As far as heat sources go, nothing beats a wood fire for the cosy factor; both in terms of heat output and the more psychological effect. Install one in your main living family living space, the bigger and grander the better! Because it is a very powerful heater (about 8kW) the sensible thing to do would be to use it in conjunction with a heat transfer system to spread it throughout the home and a wetback for hot water heating.
9. A brick kitchen
Sometimes cosiness comes in the form of an aesthetic feature; internal brick walls are a good example. There’s just something special about bricks that bring character and make a space more inviting and cosy. So what better room to put them to use than the kitchen, the heart of the home and a place that’s well-used. Brick is very versatile so whether you décor dreams are contemporary, rustic or traditional, bricks can be styled to bring warmth to all. And it doesn’t have to be an entire wall, consider a brick backsplash accent.
10. Add a reading nook
In some of the very oldest pubs in Great Britain you might find a tiny room just off the bar that seats only a couple of people; this is called a snug. The name says it all. In a modern home, this kind of small, partially enclosed area would be called a nook. It doesn’t have to be for reading, but it definitely suits the activity. Decorate it with comfy seating, warm fluffy throws and cushions, and soft lighting to create a wonderful place to enjoy peaceful solitude.
One more for luck…
The level of warmth and cosiness in your home can be vastly altered by overhead lighting. It’s called colour temperature. Most light bulbs emit a white light but it comes in varying shades from warm to cool. Warm white is best for bedrooms, dining and living areas you want to make more inviting and cosy. Cool white is better for areas where you want to stay more alert or draw attention to a feature, eg. kitchen, accent lighting, garages, bathrooms (although sometimes you might want a warmer light for relaxing in here so maybe consider both?!), etc.