Insulation has a major role to play when it comes to heating – not just in making our homes warm, but in making sure they remain so. Insulating our homes well is in our interest not only from a financial standpoint (since we spend less money on heating), but also from an environmental point of view, since we consume less energy. This benefit comes full circle back to the finances – a well-insulated home can sell for more, with a high proportion of homebuyers seeing the energy efficiency of properties as a crucial factor.

In this blog post and the next, we’ll be looking at steps we can take to insulate our homes, ranging from small and relatively inexpensive changes in this post, to larger changes in the next.

1. Insulating your hot water tank. A jacket for your hot water tank can be bought for around £15 and easily slipped on, keeping the water inside hotter for longer and repaying your initial investment in less than six months.

2. Insulating pipework. Similar to hot water tank jackets, insulation cover for pipes (in the form of foam tubes) keeps the water inside hotter for longer and is easily slipped on. For an average house it could cost around £20 and pay for itself within a couple of years.

3. Reflector panels for radiators. Radiators give out heat in both directions, into the room and back towards the wall, and the latter heat is frequently wasted, heating up the wall and consequently the outdoor air. Panels can be placed behind radiators to reflect this heat back into the room. The panels are inexpensive (perhaps £5 for coverage of one radiator) and can repay the initial investment in less than a year.

4. Draught proofing. The Draught Proofing Advisory Association contends that draught proofing is ‘one of the most inexpensive and effective ways of making efficient use of energy in all types of buildings. Yet it is too often overlooked.’ A relatively simple DIY (or relatively cheap professional) job, draught proofing your residence could save you somewhere between £10 and £50 a year, repaying your initial investment within a year or two.

Blocking the source of draughts

A_RadiatorWindows are a significant source of draughts (not to mention heat loss in general) and at the very basic level one can improve insulation in a room simply by drawing the curtains! Certain kinds of curtains (notably ‘insulated curtains’) are more effective in this regard than others, and one might consider replacing existing curtains with ones of higher-insulating material. Another very simple step involving no tampering with the building or furnishings is to lay draught excluders at the base of doors.

Beyond these, one can make use of draught-proofing strips around window frames, doors and loft hatches. Cracks and gaps beneath skirting boards, in walls, around pipework and between floorboards can be blocked up using fillers of various kinds. Keyholes and letterboxes in doors can also be covered.

However, lest we become overzealous in our draught-proofing endeavours and completely seal the building, the Energy Saving Trust makes a useful distinction between draughts, which are uncontrolled and undesirable, and ventilation, which is controlled and desirable (for reducing condensation and damp). When proofing your home against draughts, please remember to leave a little ventilation!

(Photos by pdz_house and andrewatla)