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Heat loss at home and what you can do about it

Heat loss at home and what you can do about it

A typical home loses around a third of its heat through the roof, the walls, windows and floor.

With a few simple adjustments, you can reduce this energy loss, and cut your bills.

A cold, draughty and energy inefficient home costs you money. Here's six ways to make it warmer and cheaper to run...

heat loss in the home

Every building loses heat, but the housing stock in the United Kingdom is amongst the least energy efficient in Europe.

27% of the UK's CO2 emissions come from our houses. But a third of this carbon could be saved with a few simple measures to prevent heat loss. In order to meet the government's 60% target for reducing emissions, 14 million homes in the UK will need refurbishing to make them more efficient.

If you can insulate your house, and protect it against heat loss, you'll be able to turn your thermostat down, and achieve a comfortable temperature, using less energy.

In a typical British home, heat loss occurs:

  • through the roof
  • through the walls
  • through doors, windows and floors

1. The Roof - how to save up to 25% of heat loss
Around 25% of heat loss in a typical home is through the roof.

Insulating your loft will save up to 20% of your energy bill, or around 140 a year.

200mm is the minimum recommended insulation, however, if all UK lofts were insulated up to 270mm, we'd save about 520 million and nearly 3 million tonnes of CO2 a year.

There's lots of eco friendly insulation materials out there, like sheeps' wool, hemp, wood fibre and recycled paper.

If you do insulate to 270mm, and then flatten it by putting boxes or other household belongings ontop, the insulation won't work very well.

In which case you can stop that happening with a raised deck that fully protects the insulation underneath.

2. The Walls - how to save up to 35% of heat loss
Up to 35% of heat in the home is lost through non insulated walls.

Houses built after 1920 and before 2000 are likely to have cavity walls.

Installing cavity wall insulation could save you up to 110 a year.

Older homes with solid walls can be insulated too, by adding an insulating layer to either the inside or outside of the walls.

Lime based cladding is a better option than cement external insulation, as cement is a material which is responsible for up to 10% of the worlds CO2 - even more than the aviation industry.

An insulating paint additive is an easy way to make your home warmer, simply add to paint and apply to internal walls.

As the paint dries, the additive forms a thermal barrier that traps heat and repels moisture. Painting it on the exterior can also stop heat coming in from outside, keeping your home cooler in summer.

3. The Windows - how to save up to 10% of heat loss
Around 10% of heat in a home is lost through the windows.

Double glazing reduces this by half, and could save you up to 130 a year.

Insulating blinds and curtains, with an extra thick layer that traps heat, can also help, especially when double glazing is not possible.

Secondary glazing, in combination with curtains could out perform double glazing with a 66% reduction in heat loss, and when combined with insulating shutters that fit snugly without gaps, up to 77% of the heat loss is prevented. A simple way to reduce heat loss is to seal any gaps around the window and place window insulation film over your windows.

Easy to do yourself, and you could save 85 a year. Make sure you close your curtains when the sun goes down.

4. The Doors - how to save up to 15% of heat loss
Draughty doors are responsible for 15% of heat loss in the home. Blocking the gaps around the door with rubber or brush seals is an easy solution that you can door yourself. Hanging thick curtains over the door will also help to trap heat, as will a draught excluder.

Why not try making your own door draught excluders; it's a great way to reuse old socks and tights.

The entrance to your home is one of the most important places to tackle draughts, with up to 27% of the heat in a hallway lost through the letterbox alone. Cut out draughts through the letterbox with a Ecoflap letterbox draught excluder, the innovative design uses the wind to keep it shut and will completely stop draughts.

5. The Floors - how to save up to 15% of heat loss
Draughty floorboards and gaps between the floor and skirting board make up 15% of the heat loss in the home, and cutting out this waste could save you 50 a year.

If you live in an older house with floor boards you can insulate your floor from underneath, with insulating material between the joists under the boards, similar to the way you would insulate your loft.

Using a sealant to fill the gaps between the floor and the skirting board will also help to block draughts, and is easy to do yourself. Another way to insulate your wooden floor is by filling the gaps between the floor boards, very easy to do yourself and with minimal disruption.

Top it off with an eyecatching rug, and your wooden floor will look great, without making your feet cold.

6. Grants and financial help
Check the Energy Saving Trust website to see if you are eligible for a grant to help with the cost of insulating your home.

Sources: Energy Saving Trust (all information on savings and CO2), National Energy Foundation, BBC, Glasgow Caledonian University Centre for Research on Indoor Climate & Health.

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