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!
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  • Have you been caught out by the arrival of ‘Real Winter’, as it’s being dubbed online? It’s been mild for months and then suddenly it’s below zero, with plenty of us being caught out by the cold snap. 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. Draught-proof your windows


    Image credit: 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.

    2. 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.

    3. 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

    4. Throw down a rug


    Image credit: Olly Gordon

    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.

    5. 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

    Alternatively, you could go for a fun novelty draught excluder – Not On The High Street has plenty of fun designs.

    6. 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’

    7. 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

    8. Insulate the loft

    How to build an extension

    Image credit: 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.

    9. 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.

    10. 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.

    11. 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.

    12. 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).

    13. 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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