What do you want from your home heating this winter?

Wouldn't it be nice to look forward to a warm and comfortably house this winter, with low energy bills and minimal CO2 emissions? My tolerance of both cold and carbon pollution is fast declining with middle-age!

No doubt there are much more efficient heating appliances available than exist in our 35 year old home. But research shows that energy use can be halved in the average older home Victorian by appropriate retrofitting - mainly insulation, draught proofing and double glazing. The research also says my own 'behaviour' determines our heating costs: we could save a lot by sitting in a small room, dressing warm and using electric blankets.

Of course, if our house was rated at 6 stars for energy efficiency, we could replace our 'dated' heating appliances with smaller ones that need less energy and provide greater winter comfort at lower cost than the $1600 we now spend on heat per year. When we bought our house it was below the then Victorian average of 1.8 star energy rating. Double glazing and stopping losses through fans and skylights helped a lot. But our brick-veneer walls and aluminium window frames are a perfect recipe for poor heat retention.

Encouraging news is the introduction of a 'Residential Energy Efficiency Score Card' for use by 'approved raters' of Victorian houses. Thermal cameras would assist in making home assessments, and an 'energy certificate' could be used at sale of properties. Easy access to home energy assessment and more incentives to build energy efficient homes could greatly cut home energy costs, reduce national transmission problems and cut CO2 emissions.

People contemplating improvements to home heating may be interested in attending the free Home Heating Workshop hosted by Smart Living Ballarat at Ballarat Central Library (Doveton St North) at 12.30 - 1.30 pm on Wednesday 19th April. Further information at www.Breaze.org.au

John Petheram , Ballarat