Most of us have felt it at some point – we’re sat at home and all of a sudden a chill comes over us. Sometimes it’s because we’ve left a window open, but draughts can also come from a number of other sources around the home, and you’re more likely to feel them as the weather gets that little bit colder.
Aside from not wanting to get cold, preventing draughts is also an easy way to save energy and money. In fact, draught-proofing your home could save you between £25 and £50 a year. You then also might be able to turn down the temperature in your home, saving you even more. That might not sound a massive amount but it’s better off in your pocket than the energy companies’.
If you can feel a draught, there are several places it could be coming from:
If you have double glazing, then you shouldn’t feel any draughts coming through your windows as it’s a sealed unit designed to keep heat and energy inside your house. A sign that the unit isn’t sealed is if condensation or mist builds up in between the two panes of glass. In that case, you need to get them seen to immediately or look at replacement windows.
For windows that open, it could be that the locking mechanism is broken. A window that doesn’t close properly is a prime spot for draughts to creep in. Strip insulation can help, but it might be worth fixing the problem at the source.
Older, single glazed windows are also increasingly likely to let in draughts as they age. Wooden frames can rot or warp, again letting in cold air.
Curtains won’t actually stop the cold air getting in through a gap, but can act as another barrier between your nice warm house and that nasty cold air.
Most modern external doors should be pretty good at stopping draughts, but older doors can be problematic. There are a few main sections of your door that can let in draughts – keyhole, letterbox, gap at the bottom, and around the edges.
You can buy purpose-made covers for keyholes and flaps and brushes for your letterbox that are reasonably cheap and easy to fit. For any gaps, you can buy brushes, draught excluders or special strips that fit around the edges. Again, you should double check that your door closes properly and there are no faults where cold air could creep in.
Internal doors often have larger gaps, particularly at the bottom, with draught excluders being probably the best option.
That big ol’ gap at the top of your house can be a real problem if not dealt with properly. The hot air in your house rises and can escape into the loft if not sealed in. Using strip insulation can help with this, as can ensuring your loft hatch doesn’t have any gaping holes in it.
Chimneys and fireplaces
Now, we’re only talking about unused chimneys and fireplaces here. Obviously, if you still use your chimney then you absolutely don’t want to block it off!
Older chimneys can let in a lot of air (you can often hear it), but there are a couple of easy ways to prevent this. You can fit a cap on top of your chimney or you can get special chimney draught excluders that also do the job.
If you want to really stop the draughts then you could consider filling on your fireplace, although this is obviously a much more costly job.
You may find that draughts are coming in through vents in your house. If these are disused vents, such as after old gas fires or central heating boilers have been taken out, then these can be blocked up using a vent cover or filled using polyurethane foam.
However, you don’t want to block up vents that are actually useful. For example, extractor fans in the bathroom or kitchen will help reduce moisture build-up, airbricks help keep wooden floors and beams dry, and trickle vents are often used in modern windows to allow fresh air into a room.
Skirting boards and floorboards
It might not be somewhere you immediately think of, but both floorboards and skirting boards can let in draughts.
Floorboards aren’t as much of an issue if you have flooring on top, but are still worth dealing with to fully prevent draughts. You can use sealant to fill in gaps around skirting, whilst silicone-based filler is preferable for floorboards to allow for movement in the boards.
Around 10% of heat loss from the home is through the ground floor, so you could also install floor insulation if you don’t already have it.
Can you do DIY draught-proofing?
Well of course you can, but the question is whether you should or not. Obviously you can do the basics that involve buying bits and bobs such as brushes and draught excluders, but certain jobs might be better left to the pros.
For example, any damaged brickwork should be looked at by a builder, whilst putting a cap on your chimney has its obvious dangers and, again, should be handled by professionals.