How to Save Energy at Home

Saving energy at home during winter starts with proper insulation. Stopping the escape of heat will save both energy and money - and while some improvements will require a trained professional, there are also a number of things you can do by yourself. Read on to find out more about the big and small things you can do to save energy and reduce your energy bills this winter.

How to insulate your floor
If you don't live on the ground floor, floor insulation isn't something you'll need to worry about too much (unless the floor below you is unheated - as a heated room below will be enough to keep your floor insulated). However, if your property features a ground floor or a basement, there are steps you can take to improve insulation. Please note that floor insulation should be carried out by trained and properly insured experts!

Insulating suspended timber floors
If you live in an older home, it is likely that you have suspended timber floors. These can be insulated by laying mineral wool insulation supported by netting between the joists.

Insulating solid floors
If you live in a new building, your home probably features concrete or screed solid floors. This will naturally be better insulated than a suspended timber floor, but can still be insulated further by laying a new layer of rigid insulation on top. The insulation can be placed directly above the existing concrete or screed in the form of a ‘floating’ floor.

How to draught proof your home
Draughts happen when there are gaps in the construction of your home. They can be found in gaps in your home that lead outside. Areas to check include:

Around windows and doors
Loft hatches
Around electrical fittings on walls and ceilings
Around pipework
Draught limiting can be carried out as a fairly low-cost DIY project. Foam strips can be used around doors, windows and loft hatches, silicone filler can be used for small holes and polyurethane foam for larger spaces.

How to limit damp in your home
Damp is a fairly common problem - particularly in older homes - and is more noticeable as the weather cools down and windows are less likely to be left open. When detected and dealt with early, it can be an easy issue to resolve. However, if damp is left untreated, it can cause immense damage that can be costly to fix. The most common type of damp is caused by condensation.

What is condensation?
Condensation occurs when warm air comes into contact with a surface that is cooler (for example, a wall or a window).This commonly happens in cold weather when a room is warmer than the outside temperature, but windows in particular remain cold due to the outside temperature.

How to stop condensation in your home
To stop condensation in your home, ventilation and insulation are key. To ventilate your home, make sure that extraction fans are installed in kichens and bathrooms to allow moisture to escape. To reduce condensation, consider double glazing and insulation for floors, ceilings and walls.

If condensation is not dealt with quickly, mould will begin to develop. It is important to wipe away condensation regularly, as this will deter mould from developing.

What does condensation look like?
Dripping windows
Damp walls
Peeling wallpaper
Mould on walls or windows
A musty smell inside cupboards on enclosed spaces
How to insulate walls
Depending on when your house was built, its walls will most likely be either cavity or solid.

Cavity walls
If your house was built after 1920, chances are that it features cavity walls. Cavity walls are made up of two layers of brick with a space between then. This space causes loss of heat which can be fixed by adding insulation. Cavity walls can be insulated by adding a material between the two layers of brick. The most common materials used are mineral wool, polystyrene bead and polyurethane foam. Adding insulation to cavity walls will save you in energy bills, but it should be done by a trained professional, so costs will vary.

Solid walls
If your house was built before 1920, you probably have solid walls. Solid walls can be insulated internally or externally. To insulate solid walls interally, you can fit insulation boards to the walls. This is otherwise known as dry lining. It involves fixing insulation material to the inner side of a solid external wall, and then covering it with plasterboards or cladding. As with cavity walls, this should be done by a trained professional.

How to insulate your roof or loft
An uninsulated roof is an expensive and environmentally irresponsible liability as it can mean one quarter of your home's heat is wasted. You may be put off by the cost of labour, but in many cases, it is possible to do the job yourself. This handy loft insulation guide from Wickes should give you a good idea of whether you're prepared to attempt the job yourself.

Energy saving DIY quick tips
Keep your heating at a consistent low temperature rather than allowing the temperature to rise and fall dramatically.
Dry clothes in a room that can be closed off from the rest of your home. When drying clothes in this room, turn the heating off and open the windows open.
Make sure that there is space between your furniture and walls (at least 0.5cm).
Insulating your hot water cylinder is a cost-effective, simple way to reduce your bills and energy wastage. If it is properly fitted, your initial costs should be recouped within a year of two.

Courtesy of Towergate Insurance- 25/10/18

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