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How Your Windows Lose Heat Every Winter

When it’s colder outside than inside, all houses lose heat. Identifying where the heat in your home is lost is key to making your home more heat efficient. Fabric heat loss is when heat is lost through any part of the house structure which is exposed either to the outside air, or to some other unheated space, such as the building materials used to construct the house. Ventilation heat loss is when heat escapes as a result of airflow into and out of the house. This can be via controlled ventilation openings such as windows, doors, air-bricks, grilles and vents, or through uncontrolled gaps in the fabric of the building such as cracks in the windows, doors, electrical and plumbing outlets, or between skirting and floorboards. The rate at which air flows into and out of a house is known as the Ventilation Rate. Ensuring that your home has the appropriate level of insulation and drought proofing measures will reduce its heat loss considerably. You may even be eligible for a government grant that could help towards the cost of insulating your home. Improving insulation is one of the most cost-effective energy efficiency measures you can take.

Draught Proofing

Gaps in windows and doors are amongst the biggest heat loss culprits in your home, so drought proofing these areas should be a priority. Compression seals Plastic-covered foam strips or rubber tubes fixed in a metal or plastic carrier, which are pinned onto the door or window frame. Low friction/wiper seals Fine nylon brush pile or a rubber blade fixed in a metal or plastic carrier. Gun applied sealants Silicone or polyethylene sealants sold in tubes and used for filling gaps which are very small or irregular, or in places where other drought proofing materials would be ineffective such as metal windows. Floor insulation is not usually practical for most homes, although thick carpets with underlay will reduce heat loss. Filling the gaps between the floorboards and skirting boards with newspaper, paper, beading, mastic and plastic wood can also help towards drought proofing your home.

Loft Insulation

To prevent heat that rises through the ceiling area from continuing through the loft space to escape through the roof, insulating material needs to be laid between and across the wooden joists directly above the ceiling. Mineral Fibre Quilt The one most frequently used is mineral fibre quilt, which is sold in rolls and normally laid to a standard thickness of 250mm. Loose-Fill Mineral Fibre A contractor can be called in to install loose-fill mineral fibre or cellulose fibre materials using a mechanical ‘blowing in’ process. Remember not to block the air space under the eaves, this allows the loft to be ventilated. Natural Wool Insulation Not only does natural wool provide excellent thermal performance, it is also made from a renewable, sustainable source. Natural wool insulation solution is reusable, recyclable and biodegradable. It is also so safe to use that you do not need gloves or protective clothing to install it. Tanks & Pipes Your hot water cylinder should be insulated to reduce heat loss, and your cold water tanks and pipes should also be insulated for protection from frost damage if the loft floor has been insulated.

Wall Insulation

Wall insulation can be carried out for both cavity and solid walls. A specialist installer should be used. Sometimes local authority permission is required in advance of the work. Cavity walls The original purpose of cavity walls was to prevent the spread of dampness to internal walls. Therefore, it is important that any material used to fill a cavity is moisture repellent. Whatever the solution, cavity wall insulation should reduce a walls’ U-value from around 1.5 to 0.45 making cavity wall insulation one of the most cost-effective solutions you can implement in your home. Solid Walls – Dry lining Plasterboard laminates, or wooden battens filled with insulation and covered with a plasterboard top layer are added to the inside of the walls. Internal solutions like these require doors, window mouldings, skirtings and electrical points to be removed and re-fixed, and redecorating will also be necessary. Solid Walls – External rendering External solutions include: Rendering insulating material directly onto the external wall. Metal carrier systems which are fixed to the external wall then cement/sand rendered over to provide a protected finish. Rigid insulation boards reinforced with a thin decorative render finish. Most external solutions involve major structural refurbishment and mayrequire planning permission.

Window Insulation

The rate at which heat flows through various parts of the house structure is called the U-value. The lower the U-value the lower the rate at which heat will escape – and the better the energy efficiency. Double Glazing- Double glazing cuts heat loss using an insulating layer of trapped air between the two panes of glass. The insulation barrier can also help to reduce noise and condensation. E-Glass-
Also ask your glazer about low “e” glass, which saves as much energy again by reducing heat radiation from the glass. Secondary Glazing-
If double glazing is too expensive, you could try secondary glazing which involves adding a second pane of glass (or Acrylic) to existing single glazed windows. DIY Additional Glazing-An alternative to double-glazing, which costs only a few pounds, is to tape polythene stretch cling film sheets across non-opening window frames available from DIY stores. This is almost as efficient as glass and is easy to fit. Thermal line your curtains- Curtains with thermal linings will help to reduce heat loss on cold winter nights.

Avoiding Condensation

Dampness affects many homes in the UK. It causes mould growth, staining and damage to walls, window frames and furniture. Excess moisture in your house makes it difficult to heat effectively as drying out damp materials absorbs energy.

Condensation generated from washing, bathing and cooking should be minimized by ensuring your bathroom and kitchen have appropriate ventilation. Lids should be used on pans when cooking.

Burning gas or coal also produces water vapor so cookers and fires should be well vented.

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