Every week we bring you a new, simple idea for reducing your carbon footprint and protecting the planet.

Every week we bring you a simple idea for reducing your carbon footprint and protecting the planet. This week: how a few simple draught-proofing measures can lower your energy bills while keeping your home warm and cosy.

Draughtiness is a formidable foe in the pursuit of a cosy home. All that lovely warm air escaping through cracks and crevices means you have to use more energy to achieve the same result, which is bad news for the environment and your wallet.

According to the Energy Saving Trust, draught-proofing is one the cheapest and most effective ways to save energy – and money – in any type of building. Draught-proofing around windows and doors could save you around £20 a year, while draught-proofing a chimney that’s not being used could save you around £15 a year. Plus, draught-free homes are comfortable at lower temperatures, which means you may be able to turn down your thermostat and save even more on your energy bills.

Where do draughts come from?

The answer isn’t always obvious! Be sure to check:

  • Windows
  • Doors (including keyholes and letterboxes)
  • Loft hatches
  • Plug fittings on walls?
  • Floorboards and skirting boards
  • Pipe work leading outside
  • Chimneys

As a general rule, you should try to get rid of draughts from these places, but be careful not to go overboard in areas that require ventilation, such as rooms with fires and kitchens and bathrooms, where lots of moisture is created.

Should I DIY or go pro?

Draught-proofing is generally a pretty straightforward task, and simply involves a bit of basic hand/eye coordination. According to the Energy Saving Trust, professional draught-proofing will cost around £200 for an entire, average-sized house – if you’re prepared to do it yourself, it’ll be a lot cheaper.

Draught-proofing windows

Old, single-glazed sash windows are particularly bad for draughts. The best thing you can do is replace them with double glazing, which could save you £120 per year on your heating bill. If you can’t make that investment, or if you live in a listed building, there are other options available:

  • Use foam strips around open casements. It’s cheap and easy to install, but isn’t long-lasting.
  • Metallic or plastic brush strips are a little more expensive, but last much longer.
  • Spray foam sealant or use putty around cracks between frames and walls.
  • For windows that don’t open, use a silicon sealant or add secondary film glazing

Draught-proofing doors

  • Fit a brush strip or ‘weather bar’ to the bottom of the door.
  • Foam strips can help prevent draughts creeping in around the sides of doors.
  • Use a letter box flap or letterbox brush.
  • Buy a purpose made keyhole cover to prevent draughts coming in this way (in a pinch some tape will work, providing you’re taping up the side of the keyhole that’s rarely used).

Draught-proofing loft hatches

  • People often forget about their loft hatch, but heat rises and can easily escape here! Use foam, metallic or plastic strips, as with doors and windows.

Draught-proofing plug fittings

  • Check around any electrical sockets for gaps or holes, and use sealant or putty to put a stop to draughts.

Draught-proofing floorboards and skirting boards

Floorboards and skirting boards expand and contract over time, so make sure you use a product that can tolerate movement, such as:

  • Flexible fillers
  • Decorator’s caulk
  • Mastic-type products

There are fillers available for indoor and outdoor use, and come in a range of colours. They’re designed to block gaps permanently, so apply with care!

Draught-proofing pipe work

  • Gaps around pipes can be filled with the same product as floorboards and skirting boards, but if the gap is sizeable you may need to use expanding polyurethane foam, which sprays a bit like whipped cream, but sets hard.

Draught-proofing chimneys

You should only consider draught-proofing your chimney if you never use it.

  • A chimney cap blocks draughts at the source, although working on a roof is probably best done by a professional!
  • A chimney balloon fits snugly inside the chimney breast and is fairly easy to install yourself.
  • Chimney draught-excluders sit around the fireplace and can make a decorative contribution to the room.

Ventilation is important!

Make sure you don’t seal up any intentional ventilation, which is important for keeping your home fresh and dry. This includes:

  • Extractor fans
  • Under-floor grilles and airbricks
  • Wall vents
  • Trickle vents (often placed above modern windows).

These are all pretty simple, straightforward measures but they’ll have a noticeable impact on the temperature of your house. Keep the heat in and the cold out, and you’ll be saving money without having to reach for an extra jumper!

We would love to hear your comments and stories about the issues raised in this article:

 

  

Disclaimer

This information is provided for guidance only. Please see the full disclaimer in our terms and conditions.

Every week we bring you a simple idea for reducing your carbon footprint and protecting the planet. This week: how turning appliances off at the wall socket saves energy and money.

Technology and appliances have come a long way in recent times – even the biggest TVs and most feature-laden white goods come with energy efficiency measures built in, which means minimal effort on your part when it comes to managing their energy consumption.

But there’s always room for improvement, and one thing many of us are guilty of is leaving chargers and appliances plugged in when we’re not using them. Even if the device isn’t switched on? – and even if it’s already touted as being energy efficient – it’s still drawing power from the socket. That’s power that’s being wasted – and that you’re paying for!

According to the Energy Saving Trust, households could save £30 per person per year if residents took the time to switch things off at the wall when they weren’t being used. This includes things such as phone chargers, fans, hair styling appliances, TVs and sound systems – there are, of course, some goods and devices which can’t be turned off, such as set-top boxes, routers and fridges.

But it’s no mean feat breaking the habits of a lifetime, and besides, most of our technology and appliances are positioned in such a way as to make turning things off at the wall a complicated exercise in stretching and exasperation! So what can be done?

Embrace the extension lead

Plug related appliances together on a multi-socket adaptor or extension lead, such as the computer and printer, or the TV and DVD player. This way you only have to remember to flick one switch when you’re done using them.

Use a standby saver

Standby savers – also called energy-saving plugs – work with a remote control. The device is plugged in between the appliance and the socket, and with the flick of the remote control button, it blocks power from moving through the socket to the appliance. These are really handy if your plug sockets are tucked away behind furniture, as you only need to access them once to install the saver.

Put your computer into sleep mode

Screen savers do precisely nothing when it comes to saving power – they are simply just another program that needs energy to run. Instead, take the time to figure out how to set an automatic sleep mode for your computer – every 10 or 15 minutes works for most people. And learn how to put your computer into sleep mode manually, too. That way if you know you’ll be away from it for a while you can save power using an easy keyboard shortcut.

Don’t charge your phone overnight

Battery power in mobile phones has come a long way since the early days of those brick-like handsets. Most phones will charge in a matter of hours, while newer models support fast charging that’ll juice them up in even less time, so leaving them plugged in overnight is just a waste of energy.

Be mode mindful

A lot of newer appliances these days come with additional energy-saving features that usually have to be initiated by the user, so it’s worth taking the time to find out if any of your gadgets boast these functions. The Xbox One, for example, guzzles a hefty 11.1 watts when left in its ‘Instant On’ standby mode. Switch it to its energy-saving standby mode and this drops to just 0.3 watts. When you purchase new appliances in the future, look for these kind of features as well as overall energy efficiency performance.

Shutting down standby power makes a small change, but if we all do it then it can add up to a big change – and that’s what’ll make a real difference to climate change and so to all of us.

We would love to hear your comments and stories about the issues raised in this article:

 

  

Disclaimer

This information is provided for guidance only. Please see the full disclaimer in our terms and conditions.

 

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