Jul 25, 2023

How to stop heat seeping out of your home without encouraging condensation and mould

Draught-free homes are much more comfortable at lower temperatures, so you can turn down your heating thermostat and save even more money on your winter energy bills

As the cold weather sets in, people are focusing on the best way to heat their homes. With the cost of living so high, there are additional steps you can take to insulate your property and get the most out of your heating system by stopping the warmth from escaping.

Draughts come into your house through gaps and cracks. First, look for any obvious gaps – visible light under and around doors and windows is a good clue. You should also listen for rattles and whistling noises, especially during high winds. And take time to feel for moving air – around doors, windows, floorboards, beams, and skirting boards.

But before you start blocking every gap you find, it's important to remember that every home requires adequate ventilation. Proper ventilation allows moisture to be released, keeping our home fresh and dry and preventing damp and condensation.

Experts are urging households not to seal extractor fans, as these quickly remove damp air from moisture-dense rooms like kitchens, bathrooms and utility rooms. Other areas to avoid sealing are underfloor grilles or airbricks that help keep wooden beams and floors dry; wall vents that allow small amounts of fresh air into rooms; and trickle vents, often found on modern windows to let fresh air drift in.

According to the Energy Saving Trust, special care needs to be taken in houses that have internal gas appliances. All flueless gas appliances need some ventilation to operate safely and fixed ventilation openings required for flueless and open flued gas heaters must not be blocked.

So, how can we safely block out draughts from our homes? When it comes to windows, draught-proofing strips work really well. Self-adhesive foam strips are cheap and easy to install - you can pick up a roll of draught seal for just £4.79 from B&Q - but may not last long. A longer-term but slightly more costly solution is metal or plastic strips with brushes or wipers attached. Sliding sash windows, meanwhile, need brush strips. And silicone sealant is best for windows that do not open.

Draught-proofing outside doors can save a lot of heat – and money. A metal disc cover for your keyhole is essential, according to the pros at the Energy Saving Trust, as is installing a flap or brush for the letterbox. Use a hinged flap draught excluder or a brush to cover the bottom of the door and use foam, brush or wiper strips around the edges.

Draught excluders work well on inside doors, too – you can make a simple one from bags stuffed with spare material. Keep inside doors closed if they lead to an unheated room. Age and use can lead floorboards and skirting boards to expand, contract, and even move slightly. A silicon-based filler works well to block any holes – check for gaps between skirting boards and the floor, too.

If you have a chimney, ask a professional to fit a chimney draught excluder if one wasn't fitted during installation. If you don’t use your fireplace, get a professional to install a cap over the chimney pot. Silicone fillers work well for small gaps around pipes, and fill more significant gaps with expanding polyurethane foam. Attics and cellars can be colder than the rest of the house. Check that cold air isn't creeping into your living space internally, and consider insulation if you don’t already have it.

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