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:
- Doors (including keyholes and letterboxes)
- Loft hatches
- Plug fittings on walls?
- Floorboards and skirting boards
- Pipe work leading outside
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.
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
- 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.
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!
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