Craig Philips Home Advice Episode 1 - Insulation and Draughts
When the weather gets cold outside, it's so tempting to just turn up the thermostat. But with fuel prices set to rise and rise, it is an expensive way to keep your house warm in the winter months. So if your house is cold and draughty, you need to do something about it, as poor insulation can contribute towards structural problems. So how can you protect yourself from high energy bills and potential damage?
The government estimates that four fifths of all energy used in the average home goes on heating. It's expensive, wasteful, and it's also responsible for a quarter of all the UK's carbon dioxide emissions. So how do we keep our houses warm, without watching our money go up in smoke? Well, the perfect place to start is at the top.
A quarter of your house's heat is lost through its roof. But you can prevent this by fitting decent loft insulation. There's lots of materials that you can use, and it's relatively easy to it yourself. But you do have to be careful, especially where you're standing. Now if you're going to be using materials like fibreglass, you do have to be wearing safety clothing: gloves, mask, and goggles, because this can release small fibres in the air, which can be harmful if they're breathed in - it can also be irritating to your skin.
When insulating your loft, take extra care not to cover up any of the vents, because this is crucial to allow airflow into the loft space, to prevent any condensation building up and causing any damage.
Now, it's not just your roof that needs insulation - it's your walls as well. In fact, up to a third of the heat lost from your house simply fades away through the walls. So what can we do about it? We can insulate the walls. Now, what type of insulation do we need? That depends when your house was built. If it was built before the 1920s, the likelihood is that you've got a solid wall, like this, which is not very good for keeping the heat in the house.
But what you can have is a plasterboard with an insulation attached to the back of it. This is simply dot-and-dabbed onto the wall and skimmed up to finish. Now, if your house was built after the 1920s, you could have a cavity in the wall here, which is better for retaining the heat inside. Now, fibreglass insulation can be fitted between the cavities, or it can also be injected in from the outside and the inside of the brick.
Now if you're not a pro like me, you probably are going to need a professional in to do this, and it could be relatively expensive, but it can save you up to £135 a year from your energy bills. So you start making the savings straight away, and you could be entitled to a grant to help install your insulation.
Having your pipes lagged or your boiler insulated by a professional is a great way of saving energy. You can buy a jacket really cheaply and fit it yourself - it can cut heat loss from your boiler by up to 75%.
Slip pipe insulation over all external pipes, especially those ones outside. It's quick and easy to do, and for added security, you could always box it in with some external ply. Just get your hands on some domestic pipe insulation like this. It's really easy to apply - cut it with a sharp trimming knife down to size, and if you have some pipes that have a bend on them like this, you're going to need to trim them at 45 degrees. That way, it'll mould around the pipe nice and snug. Now of course you could bend this round, but believe me, it's a lot easier to do it that way.
Another problem when it comes to heat loss is draughts. Small cracks and gaps can cost us up to about £55 a year. Draughts can get into your house in various different ways. Round window-frames, loft hatches - even pipes that go to the outside - and especially the front door area.
Fixing draughts can be quite easy; fitting these door brush strips on the bottom stops the wind from coming under the door. But you do want to make sure that the bottom of the brush is touching the floor or the carpet. And sealing the gaps between the door and the frame is also easy. If your frame hasn't got an intermittent strip already built-in, don't worry about it, because the door can be closed, and then these plastic strips can be applied. They're simply tacked on using panel pins, with the rubber edge and that closes up the seal up to stop any draughts.
And it's always worth fitting draught excluders on keyholes and letterboxes - they simply screw on.
And with all that in place you're not just protected from the cold winter weather outside, but high energy prices as well. Keep your insulation well-maintained, watch out for draughts, and you can keep your house warm, protected from the cold, and them energy bills down all year round. Perfect.