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Insulate your home and get energy efficient, by Chris Stillwell

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Published
February 11, 2013
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The cost of heating and running our homes on electricity and gas continues to increase. With the amount of money being spent by millions of families every year, it’s important to make sure your home is as insulated and energy efficient as possible.

Whether you’ve just moved into a new home or been there for what feels like forever, even the smallest problems with insulation are worth looking into as they could save you money on your gas and electricity bills.

Everyone knows about the big insulation jobs for the home, but there are smaller, often overlooked, jobs that can help reduce the amount you are spending each winter…

Draughts

Draughts can usually be found in areas such as windows, doors, loft hatches, electrical fittings, pipework that leads outside and open fires or fireplaces. Gaps around windows and doors can account for around 20% of heat lost but simple modifications can reduce the amount of energy lost and control the flow of air around your home.

Windows and doors

Insulating tape is a cheap-and-easy fix to many draughts and can be fitted easily around doors and windows. To stop draughts under internal doors you can buy or make your own draught excluders using spare material stuffed with material scraps. The beauty of making your own is that you can choose a material and pattern to match your home.

Chimney space

If you have an open chimney in your home that isn’t being used, it creates an opportunity for warm air to escape from the house. Although some amount of air circulation is needed, blocking off the majority of the gap can help to increase your energy efficiency.

There are a couple of products on the market that can help you block your chimney. One option is to use a chimney cap to block the chimney pot at the top of the house, but this might require help from a professional to fit the cap safely.

A safer option is to fit a draught excluder. Some come in the form of an inflatable pillow which you can blow up using your own wind power or a foot or mains/battery powered electric pump.  Available in a range of sizes, pick the most suitable for your chimney and simply inflate it to fit the gap, then top up a day or so later, it’s that easy!

Even if you do decide to start reusing the fire and forget the draught excluder is there, when heated it simply shrivels and deflates.

Floorboards and skirting

It’s not uncommon to find gaps and spaces between floorboards and skirting around the home.

With changes in temperature, wooden floorboards will have a certain amount of expansion and contraction. In the winter, the gaps allow cold draughts in and during the summertime, the gaps allow room for floorboards and skirting to expand.

Despite the need to allow room for some movement in the flooring and skirting, it is possible to fill the gaps with filler that allows a room for movement. Silicone based fillers are usually the best bet so look for products such as flexible fillers or decorator’s caulk. Most standard fillers come in white though there are other colours available and you can always paint over it to match the décor.

Although there is an initial cost to properly fitting insulation and bringing in energy saving products to your home, you could save money on a long-term basis that will outweigh the initial expenditure and each draught you stop means more money in your pocket.

This post was written free-of-charge by Chris Stillwell from utilities comparison site Confused.com. Chris has recently taken on his own home improvement program to fix all those pesky draughts.