Dealing with draughts
Draught proofing windows and doors is one of the least expensive ways of increasing the energy efficiency of a home. Some ventilation is required to reduce condensation and prevent mould, but the method should be controllable so that welcoming fresh air in the relative warmth of the day does not become an uncomfortable cold draught by the evening.
As simple as it is, draught proofing is a consideration for an assessor when providing a home with an EPC.
Do not alter external air bricks or wall vents without professional advice, as these may be essential for maintaining the fabric of the building. Flues that are in use for fireplaces or boilers must not be blocked.
Even a slight draught can make a room feel disproportionately chilly in cold weather. A well-insulated room will feel warmer and more comfortable, often meaning that the thermostat can be turned down a little, doubling up on the energy and cost savings. For an average house, a thorough draught-proofing job can reduce heating bills by £20 to £30 a year.
This is also one of the easiest home energy efficiency projects to do. A professional job is likely to cost less than £300 for an average house, or most of the measures can be carried out quite simply by householders with the most basic of DIY skills and tools for less than £100.
DIY stores and hardware shops carry a bewildering array of draught proofing materials and it is worth investing in good quality and tested products that carry the BSI kite mark. The larger stores offer instruction leaflets that help you to choose and install the best products.
Before you start, undertake a detailed audit of places where draughts may be entering your home and make a list and measurements to take to the store.
Amongst the most common sources of draughts are letterboxes and keyholes in external doors. Loft hatches are another common culprit. All are easily dealt with using proprietary products.
The next group of sources to consider are the unintentional gaps left during building and maintenance:
- window frames
- opening windows
- door frames
- pipes that lead from rooms to the outside
- electrical sockets and fittings on walls and ceilings
- joints where walls meet the ceiling.
Most of these can be dealt with using a suitable flexible silicone sealant. Add self-adhesive draught-proofing strips or brushes around opening windows and use the sealant in any gaps between the frame and the wall. Foam strips do not work well on sliding sash windows, so fit brush strips or consult a professional.
For external doors, buy a drop-down keyhole cover and a letterbox flap or brush. Gaps between the door and the frame can be sealed with foam or brush strips like those used for windows. A large brush or hinged flap draught excluder will deal with the larger gap at the bottom of the door. Gaps around the frame can be filled with the sealant.
Keeping doors closed is good practice and an old-fashioned draught-excluder can be laid across the bottom of any door to stop the last remnants of draughts and to give a feeling of comfort.