It's freezing: 5 efficiency hacks for a warm home this winter
All together now, brrrrrrrrrrr. It’s freezing. January has shown no temperature mercy and as a result, reducing heating bills is right at the top of people's to-do lists. One way to make savings is through energy efficiency. We’ve all lived in our fair share of chilly homes. When you next sit shivering on your sofa, remember most heat is lost through draughts or poor insulation. Typically the breakdown is around 25% up, up and away through the roof, 35% escaping through the walls, 10% below your toes and the remaining 30% through doors and windows.
Let's get a bit technical. Insulation describes how well a material keeps heat in, whereas draughts are technically a measure of the pressure difference between inside and outside caused by air leaks. Moving air currents have a noticeable effect, which is why two rooms heated to the same temperature can feel like polar opposites (if you’ll excuse the pun).
It tends to be easiest to block these nooks and crannies rather than change the material of your home, which is why a lot of quick wins come from draught proofing. Making large changes to the build of your home can be expensive, so we’ve pulled together a few energy saving hacks to shave off some of those precious pounds from your bill.
If you’re lucky enough to have one, popping up a chimney balloon in an unused fireplace is a 5-minute job and an easy £25 off your annual bill. Much like a bobble hat, they block the hot air from escaping upwards. Sadly they tend to come in less attractive designs.
Wrap up your pipes
Buy an insulated jacket for your hot water cylinder, costing as little as £15 but saving around £100 annually. But don’t stop there. Swaddle your hot water pipes with foam tubes and duct tape to save even more. Try and keep the insulation even and covering all of the pipework to avoid concentrating the cold patches. No-one wants icy joints.
How much is that snowflake in the window?
Single glazing windows can be a black hole of cold. Either try blocking the draughty edges with seals or insulating the space with another layer. The more you spend on the insulating layer, the more heat will stay in. On one end of the spectrum, there’s low-E fixed pane secondary glazing or fitted shutters, reducing heat loss through the window by around 60%. Or the less efficient but dirt cheap alternative, is installing a transparent film (aka fancy cling film) with some tape and a hairdryer. Somewhere in between is a snazzy pair of thick curtains.
Not just a great board game
Draughts tend to escape all around the floors and doors. A sealant can fill up those gaps where the floor meets the wall. Compression seals are the answer to the gaps around the doors. Finally, a brush seal around the letter box and a good old-fashioned draught excluder at the bottom of the door stops the cold breeze by your feet. Extra points for entertaining animal designs of course.
A load of hot air
Hot air rises, so much of the heat from your radiator will head straight up, instead of out across your room. The best way to stop this is by adding radiator reflector panels behind them. If your radiator is directly under a window, fix a shelf on top to keep the heat trapped inside rather than out. Finally, try using a timer on your radiator valves to control the temperature of your rooms depending on when you are in. A handy figure to remember is that setting three on the radiator is about 21 degrees Celsius. A reduction in just 1 degree could knock 10% off your heating bill.
If you’re interested in finding out more about where the heat is lost in your home, a thermal survey will highlight exactly where the heat is sneaking out. And you can even get a pretty incredible thermal Imaging camera attachment for your iPhone. It's a cool but pricey piece of tech that'll hopefully come down in cost over the coming years. Some charities and organisation offer infrared thermography surveys for just a donation, so take a gander at what’s going on in your area!
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