As painful as it might be to admit, we’ve now passed from summer into autumn, which means that soon the clocks will go back, our evening commutes will get darker, and we’ll spend a lot more time scraping ice off of our windscreens. Winter is just around the corner, and it’s worth preparing your house for the season in order to ensure that you’re kept as warm and comfortable as can be – and that you keeping your energy costs down in the process. Let’s examine some of the ways in which we might do this.
In order to prevent heat escaping from our homes, we need to ensure that all of the materials which border our homes are able to effectively slow the transfer of heat from the inside to the outside. This is done principally through superior insulation technology. Let’s examine a few of them.
As most homeowners are aware, windows represent an area of special vulnerability where heat is concerned. They’re thin, and so heat has an easy time passing through them. This should therefore be the focus of any attempt to improve a home’s energy efficiency.
Double glazing is the technology we most often reach for in this situation. By placing two sheets of glass parallel to one another, and filling the space in between with an inert gas like argon, we’re able to enormously improve the efficiency of the window. If your home has yet to make this improvement, then it’s an obvious area for improvement; but even if you already have double-glazing, you might find that newer forms of the technology offer substantial improvements. If you notice condensation on the inside of your double-glazing, for example, then it’s a sure sign that you need to secure a replacement – as a leak has sprung, venting all of that useful inert gas.
We might also consider sealing any small leaks that might have formed in the frame of a window, as these can allow cold draughts to enter the building. Of course, we can also help to protect our windows using more brutish technologies. A set of heavy curtains, for example, will prevent heat from escaping during the night time. Then, during the day, they can be kept open in order to allow sunlight to enter the building. Just be sure that you remember to open and close them in the morning and night respectively, and you’ll experience a small – though worthwhile – improvement in your energy consumption.
If windows are classically thought of as the most vulnerable part of a house, then doors must surely come a close second. This is particularly so in older doors, where the wood might have over time shrunk and expanded to leave gaps around the sides. At the bottom of the door, you might address this with a draught excluder – a long cushion which will help to block the gap. In the long-term, however, a new door might make a better investment.
Cavity wall and loft insulation
Houses built after a certain point in history will come with not one, but two exterior walls: one just outside the other to prevent heat from escaping. The gap between these two walls is called a cavity – and by filling it with insulating material, we can further improve on the wall’s insulating ability. This insulating material comes in the form of a special expanding foam, which can be easily piped into the wall, thereby improving its insulating effectiveness.
Similarly, you’ll want to add insulating material to your loft – which, since heat rises, is where much of the heat in your home will escape from. Loft insulation can make a big difference in ensuring your home’s energy efficiency during those winter months.
In order that your heating work as effectively as possible, it’s vital that pipes are insulated. This will ensure that the heat from your water doesn’t escape before it reaches your radiator (or your taps). Do this by enshrouding your pipes in insulating material. For pipes within walls, this might mean plugging the surrounding area with expanding foam. For exposed ones, tubing might be preferable. This can be purchased inexpensively from hardware shops. Whichever means of insulating your plumbing you choose, you’ll be protected against costly burst piping, which can result from allowing water to freeze inside your pipes during cold spells. In this respect, you’ll save on costly repair bills – as well as ensuring that your heating system is as efficient as possible.