How to keep your house warm this winter – insulate against the cold and block chilly drafts

Brrrrr! It's getting chilly out there. Time to think about how to keep our homes warm in the winter months
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  • The weather is on the turn, meaning it’s time to be prepared for when temperatures really plummet. Staying warm at home can be expensive, even more so with the current energy crisis. Which is why we felt the need to come up with some tips for how to keep your house warm in winter, while being mindful of saving some money too.

    Whether you’re after small steps to make your home that little bit toastier or are looking at completely refurbishing it to make it as energy efficient as possible, there are plenty of things you can do to prevent unwanted draughts.

    Our guide on how to keep your house warm in winter includes our own tricks, as well as pointers on staying snug from a few experts in the field. To keep you and your family cosy until spring, without breaking the bank!

    How to keep your house warm in winter

    1. Get your boiler serviced

    boiler in a cupboard

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Colin Poole

    First and foremost ensure your boiler is up for the demands of a cold winter. ‘If your boiler is ageing and has seen better days, there’s a strong chance it won’t be working as efficiently as it once was’ advises Jordan Chance, heating expert from PlumbNation.co.uk.

    ‘Defective boilers can increase your heating bill massively as they will need to work significantly harder to bring your home up to the desired temperature. We recommend that you get your boiler serviced every 12 months (preferably before the winter season), to ensure that your boiler is running efficiently and safely.’

    ‘It is also important to note that leaving your heating on low all day does not reduce your heating bills!’ Jordan warns. ‘Having the heating on only as and when you need it, is the best way to save energy.’

    2. Add extra layers

    pink bedrooms iwth layered throws on the bed and rugs on the floor

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Max Attenborough

    It seems too obvious but a great way to stay home on cold nights and avoid using too much energy is simply layering up. Keeping extra soft furnishings to hand can make all the difference in saving money on your heating.

    3. Update your thermostat

    Upright radiator

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Colin Poole

    A thermostat controls your home’s temperature by communicating with your boiler. ‘Thermostats, particularly in older homes with older heating systems, can degrade over time. Such degradation can lead to delays in your boiler switching on, or your home being heated at much higher temperatures than required’ Warns Jordan. ‘Upgrading your thermostat could provide far greater accuracy in thermostat to boiler communication, preventing energy from being wasted, and saving you money.’

    ‘Using a thermostat with a timer offers a simple and speedy solution to controlling your heating effectively’ Jordan explains. Modern day thermostats can be controlled from your mobile, to ensure your home is nice and warm when you arrive home.

    4. Rearrange the furniture

    How to keep your house warm 2

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Colin Poole

    When trying to stay warm at home during winter be strategic about your furniture placement. Make sure the sofa or a bed isn’t blocking the radiator, as this can stop it heating up the whole room.

    Instead position well used pieces of furniture such as your desk, bed or sofa around any heat sources, without blocking them, to make the most of the warmth. Try to keep them away from any draughty spots, such as by a window or door.

    5. Keep curtains open until 3pm

    Living room curtain ideas with blue sofa and striped blind

    Image caption: Future PLC/Simon Whitmore

    While keeping your curtains closed will keep the heat in at night, keep them open during the day.  Any sunlight will naturally heat up the room, which will all help when you finally draw the curtains as the chilly night sets in.

    The sun usually sets at around 4 pm in the height of winter, so to make the most of the natural warmth keep your curtains open until around 3 pm.

    6. Draught-proof your windows

    How-to-renovate-on-a-budget-sash-windows

    Image credit: Future PLC/ David Giles

    Draught-proofing windows is a simple, worthwhile DIY task. All you need to do is apply self-adhesive foam tape to a window frame (or ask a local handyman to do the job). A 10m roll of foam draught excluder, enough for four average windows, costs as little as £2.50, but can save around £25 a year.

    Draughts also occur in cracks between the window frames and the surrounding walls – it’s worth considering using sealant or putty in these.

    7. Install a chimney balloon

    How-to-keep-your-house-warm-in-winter

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Dominic Blackmore

    It’s no good spending thousands on triple glazing and loft insulation if you then let cold air in through the chimney. The University of Liverpool calculated households lose around 4 per cent of total heat up the chimney, so a high-quality block that prevents draughts could save you over £200 a year. If you don’t use the chimney at all, you could consider having it capped by a professional.

    If you do use your chimney but want a solution while it’s not in use,  try a draught excluder instead. Take for instance the Chimney Sheep, the most-effective example on the market. Made from a thick layer of felted Herdwick wool, the Chimney Sheep’s 4.43 tog rating works by blocking 94 per cent of airflow – stopping warm air escaping up a chimney and cold air being pulled in via other routes.

    8. Fill the floorboards

    how-to-keep-your-house-warm-in-winter-floor-boards

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Paul Massey

    Stripped floorboards look fantastic, but the small gaps between the boards can really let cold air in. Try using a filler to prevent draughts sweeping in through the gaps.

    We highly recommend Draughtex Floorboard Gap Filler, a rubber-like material that is easily pushed between the boards to seal the gaps. It comes with a handy roller tool to make the job super easy, and it comes in various widths to cater for different floors. The clever ‘shadow’ colour makes it almost unnoticeable once it’s in place. And it really does work, combating draughts instantly!

    9. Layer floors with rugs

    grey living room with blue sofa and armchair

    Image credits: Future PLC/ Dan Duchars

    If you’re looking for a quick-fix solution and don’t have time to seal your boards, find a rug or two and pop those on the floor. It’s on trend to layer up rugs, so you won’t have to find one huge design to cover a larger surface, and your home will feel instantly warmer and cosier.

    ‘If you have a carpeted home then it will naturally help to boost insulation; however, if you have hard flooring investing in some good quality materials, such as a plush rug, will help to prevent heat from being lost.’

    10. Fit a floating shelf above the radiators

    radiator with window sill above

    Image credit: Future PLC/ David Parmiter

    Control the flow of heat around a room using a floating shelf. Fitting a floating shelf above the radiator will help deflect heat around the room and stop is rising up the ceiling where it will be wasted.

    You can pick up floating shelves from £7.50 at home shops such as B&Q and IKEA. The shelves come with the added bonus of extra storage or an opportunity to curate a picture shelf.

    11. Bleed radiators

    Ensure your radiators are working to full potential by bleeding them, to make sure no air is trap – hindering the heating performance. We explain in an easy step-by step guide how to bleed a radiator, making it easy for all to do.

    12. Insulate the doors

    how-to-keep-your-house-warm-in-winter-door

    Image credit: Brent Darby

    Whether your door is old or new, it could still benefit from fitting draught-proofing strips between the door and the frame. This can work for both internal and external doors. For gaps between the bottom of the door and the floor, you can buy a special ‘brush’ or hinged-flap draught excluder. Alternatively, you could go for a fun novelty draught excluder.

    Buy now: Diall PVC Self-adhesive Draught excluder, £7.98, B&Q

    13. Use heavyweight curtains

    how-to-keep-your-house-warm-in-winter-curtains

    Image credit: Rachael Smith

    Thermal-lined curtain ideas can help you keep the cold out more effectively, especially if you have single-glazed windows. At the very least, make sure your curtains are lined.

    ‘Keeping your curtains closed, or investing in a thermal curtain lining can likewise help to prevent warm air from escaping – this trick alone can reduce heat loss by up to 25 per cent’ suggests Jordan.

    14. Insulate the loft

    How to build an extension

    Image credit: Future PLC/ David Giles

    If you’ve not done this, you could be losing up to a quarter of the heat in your home through the roof. It’s a bit like going out in the snow without a woolly hat! Insulating the loft, attic or flat roof is a simple and effective way to reduce that heat loss and slash those pesky heating bills.

    Loft insulation is effective for at least 40 years and it should pay for itself many times over.

    15. Draught-proof loft hatches

    While you’re there, try installing draught strips around the frame to your loft hatch. The door itself can also be insulated, usually with a polystyrene slab on the upper side.

    16. Draught-exclude the letterbox

    front door

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Emma Lewis

    If you don’t already have a second flap or ‘brushes’ in your letterbox, you could fit either of these, which will help keep the warmth in.

    17. Cover the keyholes

    You can fit a purpose-made cover that drops a metal disc over the keyhole to prevent any wind whistling through – simple but effective.

    18. Seal the skirting boards

    Blue home office with white skirting boards

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Mark Scott

    ‘It may seem like a small change, but using sealant to fill the gaps between the top and bottom of your skirting boards can really make a difference,’ says Claire Osborne, energy expert at uSwitch.

    19. Repoint any brickwork

    Any gaps in bricks on external walls can lead to unwanted and unnecessary wind coming into the home. You can top up mortar between the bricks to stop this happening (though it might be worth considering a professional to do this).

    20. Before laying a carpet, fit underlay

    white living room with neutral carpet

    Image credit: Carpetright Merlin Twist Carpet, Pearl River Heather, £27.99m2

    The carpet and underlay for flooring that you choose can also make a big difference on your home’s insulation. According to the experts at Carpetright, getting the right underlay for flooring can save you as much as 15 per cent off your energy bills.

    Jemma Dayman, Carpet Buyer for Carpetright tells us ‘Underlay is often overlooked, but it’s a really important element of the carpet-buying process. Not only does it insulate, it also provides cushioning, acts as a shock absorber protecting the actual floor itself, and as a sound barrier between floors.’

    All you need now is a hot chocolate and a good book. Stay warm people!

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