Our top tips for beating the winter chill at home

The recent cold snap saw the coldest start to spring in five years, thanks to the ‘Beast from the East’ and the Siberian weather front it brought, as snow engulfed huge swathes of the country.

Clearly, it’s warmed up since then, but if you’re still shivering at home, you’re not alone. And perhaps now is as good a time as any to pause and reflect that British homes are among the worst insulated in Europe, but a few DIY updates could significantly boost the temperature inside your property.

What you have to do is simple – stop cold air coming in and warm air from escaping. This also saves on energy bills, since the system won’t have to work as hard.

Fill in any Gaps in the Floorboards

The smallest floorboard cracks can let in draughts. Equally, look for any gaps between floors and skirting boards. Luckily, you’ll find a number of sealants available to help with this problem.

Prevent Draughts from your Front Door

Your front door is potentially a very cold area. Things you can do to tackle this include fitting a brush strip at the bottom of the doorframe. Rubber draught seals (available from most DIY stores) are good for the sides and top of the door. You might also want to fit a letter box draught excluder – again these are available from DIY stores. (And they’re cheap.)

Other options include hanging a heavy curtain across the door or any thin windows in the door frame.

Block up Unused Extractor fans and Cat Flaps

If you’ve had your cat flap a while, it could often blow open, sending blasts of wind through the kitchen. Check the magnets on the flap – are they still effective? Consider upgrading to a model with a wind stopper system.

Check your extractor fan. Many people don’t use them, or the blades may have become damaged, letting cold air in. Replace broken blades or, if you don’t use the device, block the thing completely with a bag containing loft insulation. Remember to take out the fuse so that you don’t turn it on accidentally.

Insulate your Loft Hatch and not just your Loft!

Have you insulated this as well as the loft space itself? If your hatch is resting rather than hinged, place a foam strip around the perimeter of the bottom of the loft hatch. This keeps draughts at bay. You can also insulate the hatch door itself by glueing a plastic carrier bag to the top, then stuffing it with insulating wool before taping it closed to that the material doesn’t come apart when you open the hatch.

In general terms, your loft needs a minimum of 270mm of insulation.

Use Thermal Curtain liners

Look for thermal ones – you’ll notice the difference, and they can be bought inexpensively.

Check Radiators and the Hot Water Tank for Leaks

Radiators on external walls leak heat, so fit thermal panels behind them, especially if you have single-skin walls or don’t have cavity wall insulation. As for your hot water tank, it should have a jacket (or, ideally, two), providing at least 80mm of insulation. You could try wrapping old duvets or sleeping bags around it, or insulating the pipes leading to and from the tank.

Block up Unused Chimneys

Finally, if you have an unused chimney, a rubber chimney balloon (available for under £20) or an old pillow or bin big stuffed with loft insulation could help block it up. Biodegradable chimney ‘sheep’ is another cost-effective option.

But if your home still isn’t warm enough, it could be time to consider replacement double glazing this spring. At Isis Windows, covering Oxford, Oxfordshire and beyond, our double-glazed models incorporate a wide range of colours and styles, including uPVC windows, aluminium, timber and sash window frames.

We have a track record of customer service excellence – and won’t give you the hard sell. Get in touch today, and take the first step to a cosier home.

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