As temperatures drop and we turn on the heating, it’s a good time to think about a cheap and easy way to make your home more energy efficient: draught proofing.
As energy saving measures go it can make a huge difference. By blocking up gaps to keep warm air in and cold air out, you’ll cut how much energy you need to keep your home warm. The Energy Saving Trust says doing your windows and doors could save you £60 a year and draught-proofing an open chimney might save £90 a year!
Start with doors and windows
Wait for a windy day, then check each of your doors and windows in turn. Listen for whistles and rattles and try to feel for draughts on your hands.
Doors tend to leak air around the edge, through keyholes and from letterboxes. Sash windows can be very draughty around the sashes, but even recent PVC double glazing can leak if it’s not properly sealed.
Once you’ve tracked down the gaps, there are plenty of different ways to seal them up:
- Use foam strips or brush strips around the edges of doors.
- Fit a ‘weather bar’ if your door’s got a gap at the bottom, or use a draught excluder.
- Add a letterbox draught excluder on the inside, or seal it up and use an external letterbox.
- Use a keyhole cover for a draughty keyhole
- Seal small gaps around windows and door frames with decorator’s caulk
You might want a handymans help with these jobs.
Does the wind whistle down your chimney?
Next, do you have any fireplaces you don’t use? You’ll often feel draughts from the chimney if they’re not blocked. The best way to do this is to cap the top of the chimney - which keeps rain out and warm air in. Your tradesperson should also be able to fit ventilation so you don’t have to worry about damp problems.
For a cheaper and faster solution, you could use a chimney balloon or a ‘chimney sheep’ to block it. If you do this, put something in the fireplace to warn people not to light a fire!
Can you upgrade your windows?
If you’re serious about cutting out draughts, switching to double glazing can make a big difference. That doesn’t have to mean replacing all your windows, though: instead you can add secondary glazing.
Secondary glazing is when you add an extra layer of glass inside your windows to trap air in the gap. It’s a great choice if you live in a conservation zone or you’ve got original windows you want to keep. It doesn’t just cut draughts – it’s normally cheaper than new double-glazed windows, reduces the heat loss through your window’s glass and cuts noise from outside.
Keep things ventilated
Don’t be tempted to overdo the draught proofing, though. You want to cut out unwanted draughts but still let your home breathe. That means there are some things you should never block up: extractor fans, underfloor grilles and air bricks, wall vents and trickle vents.
These features all do an important job in your home – they get rid of damp air and let in small amounts of fresh air. If you block them up, you run the risk of damp and mold. You’ll also find vents installed near some gas appliances. These are essential safety vents and you should always leave them uncovered.
If you’re looking for a quick way to cut energy costs this winter, draught proofing is a perfect place to start. Get those gaps sealed up and you’ll have a warmer home - and save money on energy at the same time.