Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Simple ways to prevent draughts

image: freedigitalphotos
Although builders take insulation very seriously these days, this was not always the case and, historically, homes in the UK have been notoriously bad for wasting heat. Many contend that this is still the case but, fortunately, there are many things now that homeowners can do to help keep their houses warm.

A good place to start is with the external doors, where the gap between door edge and frame is often wide enough to let the chilly air in and the warm air out. Even the space underneath internal doors can be problematic, as the warmth from the main living areas leaches away to the colder parts of the house.

The best way to weatherproof your front and back doors is to attach strips of self-adhesive draught excluder to the edges. This comes in rubber, foam and brush pile versions. For interior doors you just need to find something put at the bottom; you can always buy the traditional stuffed snake, or even make your own out of a very long sock!

Windows are another weak point when it comes to insulation, usually it's the gap between window and frame that's to blame. Sash windows can be particularly draughty but, again, there is a simple solution.

Most of the draught seal that fits around doors can also fit around windows. Some, such as brush seal, are also suitable for sash windows, although there are specific products for this type of opening. If you have fixed windows, double glazing film is an inexpensive way to eliminate draughts: simply attach it to your window frames with double sided tape and tighten it by applying heat with a hairdryer. Made to measure acrylic panels can also be fitted, but they are a more expensive option.

When it comes to home insulation, floors can be overlooked; however, one that is suspended or built over an unheated basement or garage can be responsible for significant heat loss. Spaces between skirting board and floor should not be ignored either.

The most obvious solution is to put down a carpet with a nice, thick underlay below, but if you have a beautiful timber floor you may not want to cover it up. Fitting insulation material between the joists underneath the floor is very effective, but it's not something that everyone can do for themselves. A more accessible alternative is to buy a roll of flexible seal; this can be easily pressed down in between the individual floorboards to make an invisible barrier. Any gaps around the skirting boards can be plugged with silicon based filler.

None of these measures are particularly expensive nor difficult to carry out. It is estimated that a typical house loses around 20 per cent of its heat through its doors and windows and 10 per cent through its floor, so insulation of these areas should make a noticeable difference to the temperature inside your house. 25 per cent of a house's heat is thought to be lost through the roof, so, if you are fairly handy at DIY, you could even install your own loft insulation.