Sunday, 1 December 2013

The cost of home insulation

image: freedigitalphotos
There can be few experiences more dispiriting than sitting on your living room sofa and watching your own breath hanging in the air in front of you. You want to turn on the central heating, but the thought of your next energy bill persuades you to put this off for as long as possible. Whilst you cannot do a lot about the price of your heating, there are certainly steps that you can take to reduce the amount that you use. The most basic and effective one is to proof your house against draughts; not only will this prevent cold air from coming in, it will also prevent warm air from escaping.

When it comes to draughts, the biggest culprits are usually your front and back doors. Internal doors can add to the problem though, as the gaps beneath them tend to allow unheated areas such as kitchens and utility rooms to steal warm air away from the cosier areas.

In the case of the external doors, the cheapest solution is to fit draught proofing strips around their edges. For less than ten pounds you can buy enough rubber or foam seal to go around both doors, and perhaps have some left over for your windows. An old coat or blanket at the bottom of your internal doors will keep a room snug, although you can also buy cheap draught excluders that move with the door and so don't have to be continually adjusted.

Older windows can also lower the temperature in your home. If you can't afford to replace them with new, double glazed units, there are plenty of other ways of blocking off the chill.

Again, draught proofing strips will do the job, assuming that they are opening windows. Another option, which will also work with fixed windows, is double glazing film. This costs around ten pounds for enough to cover four standard sized windows. It attaches to your frames with double sided tape, and shrinks down to a nice, taut surface when you fire a hairdryer at it.

Many older homes have suspended timber floors, and gaps between floorboards can allow the cold air below the house to infiltrate the ground floor. The cracks between floor and skirting board are also an entry point for draughts, not to mention slugs, neither of which you want to find in your home!

Flexible insulation seal, which you squeeze down between your floorboards, is widely available in 40 metre rolls. Prices start from around twenty pounds. You won't see any difference to your floor after you fit it, but you should feel it! For sealing around your skirting boards use decorator's caulk, prices for a 300ml tube start from about one pound.

As you can see, it's not prohibitively expensive to proof your house against draughts, and with current energy prices it should pay for itself quickly. With the money you save, why not invest in fitting new loft insulation? If you can get up there quite easily, it's not a particularly difficult job to carry out. Thus, you can save yourself even more money!