With all this talk about climate change and global warming going on in the news, no doubt there are countless of you out there incredibly concerned about the impact that we’re having on the planet.
Some may say that a single person can’t make a difference and that’s true if no one tries, but if one person starts and then others follow suit, very quickly the impact of behavioural change on a consumer level will be felt… and this can already be seen, with growing numbers refusing to buy products encased in plastic, the war on single-use straws seemingly successful, more people opting to brush their teeth with bamboo toothbrushes and so on.
But what can homeowners do to help reduce the impact that their property is having on the planet? The good news is – quite a lot!
Prioritising energy efficiency is an absolute must and there is a lot that people can do at home to really make their houses more eco-friendly, which will have the added benefit of reducing their energy bills as well… so it’s a win-win.
Draught-proofing is actually one of the cheapest and most effective ways to save energy, no matter what kind of building requires this kind of work. The Energy Saving Trust (EST) explains that while controlled ventilation is able to reduce condensation and damp by allowing fresh air into a property as and when required, draughts are uncontrolled, letting in too much cold air and wasting far too much heat.
Draught-proofing involves blocking up any unwanted gaps you have around the house that lets the cold air in and the warm air out. EST figures show that draught-proofing your windows and doors could save you about £20 a year, while if you have an open chimney draught-proofing it when it’s not in use could save about £15 annually.
Where to begin with draught-proofing
It should cost around £200 for a professional installer to draught-proof your home. You can do it yourself, like many jobs around the house, and this will save you money but it might be a job best left to the professionals if you want to ensure that it is effective and that you achieve the goal you’re looking for.
But before you call the professionals in, it’s worth taking the time to go around your property to see if you have any cold spots or draughts that need sorting out. Look around windows, doors, keyholes and letterboxes, as well as floorboards and skirting boards, chimneys and fireplaces, any cracks in the walls, the pipework, attic hatches and any possible gaps around the fittings on your ceilings and walls.
If you’ve decided to try and get the job done on your own, bear in mind that you don’t want to completely seal the building shut as homes are designed for air to flow in and out. Outside ventilation will be required in rooms where there are flues or open fires, as well as in the likes of bathrooms and kitchens, where moisture is more problematic than in other parts of the house.
What about sash windows?
Sash windows can often be draughtier than others, especially if they’re above a certain age and come with single glazing. If you want to replace your traditional windows, make sure you go for the most energy-efficient double glazing units you can to really help insulate the fittings. You could also use glazing film and attach it to your windows if you’d rather not have double glazing installed.
There are also options like window foam seals which can be installed on windows (although this doesn’t work well on any windows that slide open), or you could think about metallic brush strips, which last longer than foam tape.
Don’t forget about the rest of the house
It’s not just the windows that you should consider draught-proofing if you want to save heat and energy, as well as the pennies in your back pocket. Consider insulating the keyhole by using a cover that will drop a metal disk down over it, using a letterbox flap or brush, using a hinged flap or brush draught excluder at the bottom of the door and using foam on the gaps around the edges.
If you have a chimney that you don’t use, you might as well draught-proof it – and we think you might be quite surprised at how effective this could be at making your house feel warmer. You could fit a cap over the pot (a job best left to the professionals), or buy a draught excluder that is typically fitted around the fireplace or inside the chimney itself.
Take a look at your flooring as well, since floorboards often contract and expand, and have been known to move around when trodden on each day. You could use caulk or flexible fillers, that will be able to tolerate some movement.
Your loft space is also worth considering since hot air rises and it can get lost in the cold space at the top of the house. Insulate this using strip insulation, much like you would on the doors at home.
Fast climate change facts
The Committee on Climate Change notes that the majority of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK comes from our production and consumption of energy, which could be anything from driving a car to boiling a kettle.
But switching to low-carbon fuels and being more energy efficient in lots of ways can lower emissions – necessary in order for the UK to hit its carbon targets.
In the UK in 2017, emissions were 43 per cent below 1990 levels. The first carbon budget was met and the country is currently on track to outperform the third carbon budget (2018-2022), but it isn’t on track to meet the fourth (2023-2027).
In order for the UK to hit its 2050 target to reduce emissions by a minimum of 80 per cent of the 1990 levels, domestic emissions will have to be reduced by at least three per cent each year.
Using energy more efficiently is one of the best ways of helping the country meet its carbon targets, whether that’s on an individual level or on a larger scale. Switching to low-carbon fuels will help deal with serious demand for energy, which means moving away from the likes of coal and gas-fired power towards electricity from renewable sources, nuclear power and innovative technologies like carbon capture and storage.
We can help you optimise the performance of your existing timber windows, in and around the London area, if replacement products are not an option. This is suitable for both sash and casement windows and you’ll find that our solutions are able to minimise heat loss, prevent dust penetration and reduce noise from the outside world… so your home will be quieter as well.
There’s a Sashslide draught-proofing solution that uses timber control strips and silicone coating to block draughts, a neat and discrete option that will also help your window slide more easily than before.
Or there’s the Sashseal solution, designed for casement windows, which helps to keep them operating smoothly and improves the performance of your windows while retaining the original character and style.