How to keep your house warm in winter – insulate against the cold and block those drafts

Brrrrr! It's getting chilly out there. But these tips will help!

That happened fast, didn’t it? One minute it’s a balmy 20 degrees C and the next it’s below zero – and your thermostats is suddenly seeing some action! However, staying warm can be expensive, which is why we felt the need to come up with some tips for insulating your home against the cold properly this winter. They’ll keep your family cosy until spring, without breaking the bank!

More heating ideas: Best fans for cooling and heating your home

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.

1. Install a chimney balloon


Image credit: 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.

2. Fill the floorboards


Image credit: Paul Massey

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

Buy now: Decorator sealant all-purpose silicone, £4, Wilko

3. Insulate the doors


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.

Buy now: PVC & Brush door seal, £5, B&Q

4. Draught-proof loft hatches

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.

5. Seal the windows


Image credit: Simon Whitmore

Here’s another tip from Claire at uSwitch. ‘Draught-proofing strips work well around opening casements,’ she tells us. ‘Draughts also occur in cracks between the window frames and the surrounding walls – it’s worth considering using sealant or putty in these.’

6. Use heavyweight curtains


Image credit: Rachael Smith

Thermal-lined curtains 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.

Dress your windows: How to make a Roman blind

7. Draught-exclude the letterbox


Image credit: David Giles

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.

8. 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.

9. Seal the skirting boards


Image credit: 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.

10. 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).

11. Before laying a carpet, fit underlay


Image credit: Dominic Blackmore

Related: 10 of the best stair carpets

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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