If your house has chilly corners and cold rooms – the chances are you have a period home. Here are some practical suggestions from Mukti Mitchell, director of the CosyHome Company who specialise in stopping heat loss in older properties. Such is his passion for preserving the planet that in 2007 Mukti sailed an eco micro yacht around Britain and give 45 talks on low carbon living, along the way.
“In the UK, the price of heating fuels has risen 10% a year for the last decade and it now costs over £1,500 to keep our homes warm,” Mitchell reveals. “We pump hot water into our radiators all winter while the heat floods out through the windows, walls and roofs.
“You’d be lucky to get a 5% return on £5,000 in savings or stocks and shares – but if you reinvest this insulating your home, the money saved on heating can yield a return of 10–25% per year.”
1 Reflect Radiation
Have radiator enhancers fitted behind your radiators. These heat-reflective panels stop heat going into the walls and reflect it into the room where you want it. They are estimated to save 7% on heating.
2 Clever Way to Seal Floorboards
Seal up the gaps in your floorboards and skirting boards. A long-term solution using marine deck caulking, which is completely unnoticeable.
3 Line Your Curtains
Lining your curtains can save half the heat that might be lost via windows. Use thermal lining to insulate your curtains. The ‘u-value’, or speed of heat loss, is 5.5 for single glazing, 1.8 for double or secondary glazing but only 1.0 with lined curtains.
4 Draught Exclude
Draught-proof your doors and windows, as they lose up to 30% of household heat. Old properties do need ventilation though, so only treat doors and windows with noticeable draughts.
5 Line your Loft
Top up your loft insulation to 300mm (12in) thickness. Most lofts lose 10% of a home’s heat cut to just 3% after a top-up. Rockwool is the cheapest. Thermafleece sheep wool insulation, is more efficient, lasts far longer and supports British farmers.
6 More Glazing
Double or secondary glazing can save 70% of heat loss via windows. Double glazing is fine to replace rotted windows. For attractive windows in good condition secondary glazing offers almost the same efficiency, better sound proofing and preserves their character. ‘Advanced secondary glazing’ fits Plexiglas to existing sashes and is more thermally efficient as well as virtually invisible.
7 Room in Roof Insulation
If your bedroom ceilings have a sloping section this can be plasterboard fitted to let cold external air circulate to ventilate rafters above. This loses masses of heat. This is remedied by fitting insulation boards inside and re-plastering. It’s expensive but really makes the bedroom much warmer.
8 Insulate External Walls (EWI)
External wall insulation is ideal for rendered or slate hung walls. EWI glues insulation boards to the external walls, covers them with wire mesh, and then they are re-rendered. There’s no condensation. The wall u-value is cut from 2.0 to as little as 0.2. Costs start at £10,000 for a dwelling.
9 Insulate Internal Walls (IWI).
If your home is listed, has stone walls, or you don’t want to render it, internal wall insulation can be very effective. As with EWI insulation boards are glued to internal walls and covered with plasterboard.
10 The last measure is floor insulation. If you have cellars you’re lucky because insulation can easily be fitted up between the ceiling joists and covered with netting or boarding. Otherwise floorboards need to be taken up and insulation fitted below. Solid floors can be excavated and insulation put below new floorboards.
Mukti’s “Guide to Low Carbon Lifestyles” is downloadable from lowcarbonlifestyle.org.uk