Why is my house always cold and what can I do to fix it?February 29, 2016
Is your home always bitterly cold? Are you always the first one to put the heating on when winter rolls round? Do you feel a chill even with the heating on full blast? Not only is this a miserable way to live, it’s also likely costing you a fair whack in wasted fuel.
Take a look at our reasons why your house may be cold and what you can do to warm things up.
Older windows, particularly sash windows or those with wooden frames, can be a nuisance when it comes to draughts, while single-glazed panes are known to lose a lot of heat. Decorative windows such as stained glass can also pose an issue, with lots of smaller areas of glass to worry about, meaning more potential for draughts.
The obvious solution to improve heat loss from your windows is to get them replaced with energy efficient double – or even triple – glazing. This is not always a viable solution, depending on your budget, but there are cheaper options which can simulate a similar effect to double glazing. You can purchase special insulating film which costs only a few pounds and can be applied over the window pane to better keep the heat in. It is worth noting, however, that you usually cannot open the window without breaking the film.
Other inexpensive steps which can be taken to alleviate window draughts and to keep the heat in include applying draught strips around the edges of your windows, drawing heavy curtains across the window to keep the cold air from getting into the room, or even covering the window pane with tin foil or cling film to keep the heat inside.
One of the most obvious sources of cold in your home is draughts, as you can feel the cold air on your skin. There are many places in your home which may be letting the chilly outside air into your home and, while each one may only be small, they can really add up to a real chill.
Any opening to the outside could cause a draught. Your letterbox, for example, could be letting in cold air, which can be alleviated by adding a brush. A cover that slips over your keyhole to keep it closed and can be easily slid open for access may be beneficial, especially for lever-style locks, where the keyhole is quite wide.
Doors are one of the main culprits for letting in draughts. Outside doors can be fitted with draught excluding brushes which don’t need to be moved in order to open the door, while the traditional ‘sausage dog’ style of draught excluder can be used throughout the home as an easy and non-permanent option – and also makes a good craft project if you’re feeling thrifty. Remember to keep the doors in your home closed to stop through-draughts.
Fireplaces and Chimneys
Your fireplace and chimney can be a big source of draughts. If you have a fully open fireplace and chimney, you’re likely to get cold air creeping in when a fire is not lit. You can close up your fireplace when not in use with a panel or glass doors. If you have a gas fire or electric fireplace, you may find draughts coming through vents when not in use. These can be covered with special magnetic strips which can be easily removed to allow for ventilation when the fire is in use.
You can even purchase special draught excluders or balloons which are inserted up inside the chimney. These must be removed if you wish to have a fire in your fireplace, however, as they will prevent smoke and dangerous gases from being removed from your home and could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning, as well as being a fire hazard.
If you don’t use your fireplace, it may be worth fully sealing the chimney to prevent unnecessary draughts. To do this, you need to first clean the chimney to get rid of anything unpleasant which may be stuck in there, close off and seal up the fireplace, and make sure to cap the top to prevent anything from falling inside.
Make sure that your radiators aren’t blocked or covered. It’s easy to overlook the radiator when trying to figure out the best position for your sofa, but if you’re blocking it with a large piece of furniture then the warm air won’t be able to get into the room. Radiator covers may look nice, but they reduce the efficiency of your central heating.
It’s a good idea to place a shelf just above your radiator to deflect the rising heat back into the room, but remember not to put anything on the shelf. This is especially useful if the radiator sits underneath a window, where the heat can be lost very quickly or can become trapped between the window and the curtain.
If your radiators are slow to heat up, they may need bleeding, or you might even need a power flush of your central heating system to get rid of built-up sludge inside the heating system. It’s also worth considering updating your boiler to a newer, more efficient model to ensure that you’re getting the most out of your radiators.
Timers & Thermostats
Put your heating on a timer to make sure that it comes on when you need it. The idea that it’s cheaper to keep your heating on low all day is generally considered to be a myth, and it’s more efficient to only have the heating on when you need it. Use a timer and a thermostat to ensure that your home is toasty when you want it to be.
If the weather is a little colder, just set the timer a bit earlier so that it’s got more time to get warm. Don’t try to kick-start the heating by putting it on full blast, as this isn’t very efficient and will likely end up making the house too warm and wasting a lot of energy.
Floors can be responsible for up to 10% of heat loss if they aren’t insulated. If you have wood floors or bare floorboards then heat will be more easily lost than if you have carpet. Tiled floors are notorious for being very cold and this cold surface not only causes heat loss but also feels cold on your feet.
On the more expensive side of solutions, you could opt to add flooring insulation or even an underfloor heating system, or you may choose to fully carpet your home. Cheaper options include putting down rugs to keep the heat in and also make your feet feel warmer, or filling gaps in floorboards and skirting boards. As they can shift and move slightly throughout the day, it’s important to use a filler which can handle this movement, which are usually silicone-based.
Improving your home’s insulation is a great way to prevent unnecessary heat loss. Lofts and roofs are well-known sources of heat loss, especially since heat rises, so getting your loft properly insulated will improve your home’s warmth and will save you money on your heating bills.
Professional loft insulation can be an expensive option, but a DIY job may prove to be beneficial if money is tight. Rolls of insulation foam are fairly inexpensive, and just a few rolls of fibreglass or recycled paper insulation can make a difference. If you opt to do this yourself, make sure to wear protective clothing including gloves, goggles and a face mask, and leave enough of a gap around the eaves to avoid condensation.
If you add insulation to your loft, make sure that you don’t ruin this work by having a draughty, uninsulated loft hatch or loose roof tiles that are letting in water and reducing the efficiency of your insulation.
Other areas of your home which can benefit from insulation include walls and floors, though these are jobs which should be done by a professional.