The homes we live in can potentially impact our health and overall sense of comfort and wellbeing – but to what end? We examine how to make your home more comfortable in colder months, without compromising style or lifestyle.
Images showing ceilings in a dining room and lounge.
Ian Winroth, head of sales at leading interior building solutions group, Saint-Gobain Gyproc, says home layouts are evolving to cater more for individuals whose lifestyles centre on family, work and entertainment. With the ever-increasing need to balance these elements more families are opting for open plan homes where light and views across living areas are free flowing.
While this is conducive to contemporary living, it can also mean a less cosy environment in colder months as cool air flows freely throughout the open space.
Winroth says heating and cooling homes with open floor plans can be challenging but you don’t have to give up comfort for space.
“An open plan home needn’t mean giving up the creature comforts of a warm quiet living space during cooler months,” he says.
According to a recent survey by Saint-Gobain, acoustic and thermal comfort is important to 91% of respondents and people want their homes to be quiet and consistently temperate all year round.
Traditional heating methods such as underfloor heating, gas and wood fireplaces or gas heaters will always be popular, but Winroth suggests it’s worth making improvements to your ceiling, which will not only enhance interior comfort but also add value to your home. Your decisions should be driven by three main considerations: thermal, acoustic and aesthetic comfort.
Plasterboard together with non-combustible insulation installed in your ceiling will maintain a comfortable temperature inside your home by creating a heat flow barrier between the roof tiles and the ceiling. Enhancing thermal properties means that your house will be warm in winter and cool in summer, which is not only important for health, well-being and productivity at home, but it’s environmentally friendly as well. As temperature differences are reduced, less energy is required and your home will become more energy efficient, which will lead to reduced electricity costs over the long run.
Peace and quiet is essential to relaxation, healing and concentration and for those seeking acoustic comfort, effective sound insulation is a necessity. Protection from external noise adds to the sense of security and privacy in your home, enhancing overall comfort. Sound can also affect your mood and wellbeing, and if your household is busy with multi-functional spaces and several activities co-existing, it’s beneficial to manage acoustics, especially if you have an open plan design.
Homes that look and feel better can add to the overall sense of comfort. Therefore, it’s wise to use components that are designed to work together as a system for a seamless finish. The concealment of joints and boards is important for aesthetic comfort and can be achieved by using the right combination of drywall screws, tape and plaster. A flush plaster finish will give you a luxurious, complete look that’s visually appealing and by adding a cornice profile to the perimeter of the room using adhesive, you’ll get a unified look between the wall and ceiling.
Winroth believes in building and renovating homes in a way that results in greater levels of comfort, health and wellbeing. And he emphasises that environmental concerns should be top of mind too when enhancing your own urban habitat.
“Ever since urbanisation began, human activities have increasingly impacted our environment,” says Winroth. “We should all do what we can to support sustainability – and where better to begin than in our homes?” he suggests.
Households account for a significant portion of energy consumption – mostly to provide thermal comfort. But much of this energy is wasted due to inefficient systems and designs.
“Consumers should embrace green building habits in a move to increase energy efficiency. Growing energy consumption and associated climate change will continue to rise and that’s certainly not sustainable, so all efforts even at individual level add up,” says Winroth.
“Because most of us undertake new building or renovation projects infrequently, it’s practical to design for built-in comfort right from the start. Embrace the mobility and flexibility of an open plan space as you make improvements for comfort, and consider the environment in the process,” Winroth concludes.
Easy ways to improve your everyday comfort
Over and above improving your ceiling, there are many small steps you can take every day to improve your health, overall sense of wellbeing – and the environment.
Winroth’s top five tips for comfort in winter
- ‘Green’ your living space
Plant life has a huge positive effect on focus, wellbeing and energy levels. Peppermint is easy to grow, reduces stress and is linked with improved mental performance and alertness.
- Soundproof your space
If you have noisy neighbors on one side of your home, place furniture or a large bookshelf (preferably full of books) against that wall.
- Sleep better with more daytime light exposure
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone, controlled by exposure to daylight, that helps to regulate your sleep-wake cycle. Get more light during the day to sleep better at night.
- Keep your home dry
Control relative humidity levels at under 60%, using dehumidifiers if necessary. Open a window when you take a shower or bath or while you have clothes on a drying rack.
- Stop draughts at the source
Draughts can often be found around windows or under external doors. Simple draught-proofing measures can really help. But don’t block your ventilation.