Increasing your houses thermal efficiency in the face of rising energy costs

Increasing your houses thermal efficiency in the face of rising energy costs

Homes can be wonderful and beautiful in the warm summer months as the sun beats down and we bask in the sun’s glow. However beautiful the sun is, when it disappears for the winter and we are all suffering the, ever more present, extremes of temperature we are finding that our homes may often be inefficient and difficult to heat. So we are going to have a look at different ways to improve the thermal efficiency of our homes.

Line Your Curtains
By thermally lining your blinds or curtains, you can reduce heat loss by a fair amount, suggestions are that it can be around 14%. Thermal lining does not detract from the beauty of your stylish curtains as it is only used on one side. Lining curtains is relatively easy to do yourself by applying loose lining tape and ironing the fabrics together to fuse the lining.

Boost Your Radiator Power
Radiator booster fans are a great way to improve the efficiency of your old central heating radiators. With them being a fraction of the cost of upgrading your radiators to more energy-efficient ones. It is all in the name, radiators work by radiating heat into a room, but only 20% of that heat stays there. The remaining heat circulates around the ceiling or is lost through the walls and windows. So, it makes sense to try and push as much heat as possible into the useable area of the room rather than letting it rise as it would like to. This can improve your radiator’s overall efficiency. In turn it helps to heat your room faster and reduce your heating bills, radiator boosters sucks the warm air from behind the radiator and pushes it back into the room. You can also reflect heat back into the room by fitting radiator enhancers behind the radiator which prevents heat being lost through walls.

Invest In A Chimney Balloon – if you have a draughty chimney
Chimney balloons are inflatable blocks to put in your chimney flue; they stop cold draughts coming down while also stopping warm air from going up. Chimney balloons also allow sufficient ventilation so you do not have to worry about damp.

Loft Insulation
It is estimated that 10% of heat in a home is lost through the attic. Loft insulation is usually effective for at least 40 years which means it quickly pays for itself. Aim for a thickness of around 300mm if choosing glass wool, but there are other options such as rock wool and cellulose which are effective too. Building regulations recommend a minimum of 270mm thickness.

Check your Current Glazing
Is your current glazing up to the job of keeping out the cold?
Glazing whether it is single glazing, double glazing or triple glazing needs to be in good order for the units to work properly and keep the cold out and the warmth in. If you have single pane glazing you would probably find that the newer technology double glazing, or triple glazing, windows would provide for a better thermal insulation for your home as well as improving the value. If you currently have double glazing, or triple glazing, and the windows seem to get a little foggy with condensation, then it would be a good idea to get the units checked to see if they have ‘blown’. A loss of integrity of the glazing unit will mean that they are definitely not working as efficiently as they should be. This would also apply to cracked glass too.

Add Secondary Glazing
Secondary glazing is a highly effective way of insulating your windows while still allowing you to preserve your home’s character. It can contribute to reducing heat loss by up to 70% so it is a worthwhile investment when insulating your home. Secondary glazing also helps to soundproof your home and gives you additional security.

Check your Frames.
How are your frames looking? If they are looking old and tired, it may mean that they are letting the cold seep through. Have a look around the edges to see if water can get under or around the frame. If it can then that water can begin to eat away at your window frame from the inside if it is a wooden frame. If you have uPVC frames and the edges need sealing then you can bet that the cold can get through as well. Check to make sure that the frames have not been damaged either vandalised or simply worn with time.

Fit Draught Excluders
Draught excluders stop cold draughts sneaking through gaps such as the bottom of doors, sides of windows and through the letterbox. Draught excluders can easily be made at home by filling tubes of fabric with sand to keep the cold weather out and the cosy warmth in.

External Doors.
Are your doors working as they should? OK I appreciate they open and close, but are they doing the job of keeping out any draughts? Check the seals on the door edges. These can fail over time and not seal the door against the door frame properly. Which in turn allows draughts to come in and steal away your warmth. Old wooden doors may warp if they are subject to extremes of hot and cold or may warp if they get damaged. A new uPVC door upgrade may be a good option not only to prevent draughts but for security also. As with windows if the door has a window and it gets condensation in it then that window may be leaking warmth out into the world too.

Cover Your Heating Pipes
Foam insulation is great to cover domestic heating pipes to reduce heat loss. Pipe insulation comes in many forms from fibreglass, neoprene foam and mineral wool. The connective heat loss can help to save you energy as you can turn your water heater down.

Internal Wall Insulation
In listed buildings, it is often not possible to fit external wall insulation, so choose internal insulation which can also be highly effective. It works by installing insulation boards (by glueing them to internal walls) and then covering the walls with plasterboard. The challenge here can be that the room size will shrink by an amount depending on the thickness of the insulation applied.

External Wall Insulation
An alternative to internal wall insulation is external wall insulation. This is a process where polystyrene panels are fastened to your external wall and a render is applied to provide a watertight seal. The advantage is that you do not lose room size. You must check to make sure that you will not require planning permission as you may be altering the external character of your home. Get someone round to provide you with a quote and an inspection they should be able to let you know if permission is required or not.

Cavity Wall Insulation.
This type of insulation has been getting a bad press, but is still a very good option if it is installed properly. You need to get a reputable company to assess whether your walls are suitable for this type of insulation.

Lay Floor Insulation
Floors can cause draughts too. However, this is easily rectified by fitting floor insulation. Layer mineral wool between the joists in the floor, to keep the heat in your home contained.

Seal Floorboards
It is possible to seal the gaps in your floorboards by inserting thin draught strips between each of the floorboards and by caulking under the skirting. Sealing floorboards is a relatively inexpensive option, although a little fiddly to complete.

And the very obvious things
Some of the very obvious things to keeping the cold out are little things like closing windows in rooms where you do not need them open any more. The same applies to doors, close them unless you are walking through them. Do not let your extractor fans run for longer than necessary. These fans suck the air from the room and push it to the outside, so they will extract your lovely warm air and you have to run the boiler for longer in trying to get the warmth back.


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