Top Ten Sustainable Ways to Make Old Homes Cosy for Winter

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cosyhometeam-clovellyBy Mukti Mitchell, low carbon living expert and Director of CosyHome Company

  1. Draught-proof your doors and windows, which lose 30% of household heat. Old properties do need ventilation though, so only treat doors and windows with noticeable draughts.
  1. Top up your loft insulation to 300mm (12 inch) thickness. Rockwool is the cheapest, however Thermafleece sheep wool insulation is more efficient, lasts far longer and supports British farmers.  Typical lofts lose 10% of a home’s heat; this is reduced to just 3% after a top-up.
  1. Double or secondary glazing can save 70% of heat lost through windows. Rotten windows can be replaced with double glazing, but for beautiful windows in good condition secondary glazing offers nearly the same efficiency, yet with better sound proofing, while also preserving their character. ‘Advanced secondary glazing’ (developed by CosyHome), comprises of Plexiglas fitted to existing sashes which is more thermally efficient and virtually invisible.
  1. Insulate sloping ceilings – if your bedroom ceilings have a sloping part this is usually because plasterboard has been fitted allowing cold external air to circulate above to ventilate the rafters, which can lose a phenomenal amount of heat. To prevent this, insulation boards can be fitted on the inside and re-plastered.  Called “Room-In-Roof” insulation, this is more costly than the earlier measures but makes a big difference to warmth in the room.
  1. 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.  Estimated to save 7% on heating.
  1. Seal up the gaps in your floorboards and skirtings. CosyHome Company offers a long-term solution using marine deck caulking, which is completely unnoticeable.
  1. Fit thermal lining to your curtains. The speed of heatloss, called a “u-value”, is 5.5 for single glazing, 1.8 for double or secondary glazing and just 1.0 with lined curtains – so curtains save half the heatloss.
  1. External wall insulation (EWI). Ideal for rendered or slate hung walls, EWI consists of insulation boards such as Celotex (synthetic) or Diffutherm (wood fibre board) glued to the external walls, covered with wire mesh and re-rendered.  EWI has no risk of condensation being trapped behind it, protects the wall, and reduces its u-value from 2.0 to as low as 0.2, majorly effecting warmth.  Costs start from around £10,000 for one dwelling.
  1. Internal Wall Insulation (IWI). If you can’t fit external wall insulation because your home is listed, or have stone walls you don’t want to render, internal wall insulation can be highly effective.  The technique is similar to EWI, and insulation boards are glued to internal walls and covered with plasterboard.  IWI is sensitive because if done incorrectly condensation and dry rot can get behind it, so an architect’s specification is recommended.
  1. 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.

All these measures are like wrapping your home in a big duvet, keeping heat inside the house. The result is you feel cosy, save a lot of money on heating and do your bit for the environment. Insulating all surfaces cuts heatloss by up to 80% and the “low hanging fruit” – loft insulation, draught proofing and secondary glazing – can achieve 40% savings.

Mukti Mitchell is Director of CosyHome Company specialising in insulation solutions for period properties: www.cosyhomecompany.co.uk; 0845 347 9367. He is also the author of the Guide to Low Carbon Lifestyles (downloadable at www.lowcarbonlifestyle.org.uk)

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