The best way to keep warm is to reduce your heat loss. Otherwise your home will always have cold spots. So we suggest you look at draught fixing, insulation and glazing. Reducing heat loss also reduce bills and carbon emissions.
To reduce your energy bills you need to reduce heat loss and ensure your heating system runs efficiently. If your home is already cosy, hot water is the next thing to look at.
Anything that reduces your energy bills will also reduce your carbon emissions. However, if you use gas or oil for heating there will always be some emissions. You could hope and wait for hydrogen gas heating but that may never happen. Installing a heat pump for heating is the surest way to reduce your emissions because this uses electricity which can be zero carbon. More
Keeping cool in summer is an increasing problem with warmer summers and more frequent heat waves. Keeping cool means keeping the heat out - shading the windows is essential. It also means avoiding generating unnecessary heat inside, so efficient appliances that do not generate unnecessary waste heat are important. You can also get heat loss from your hot water cylinder and/or pipes. More
Air quality is particularly important for people with heart or lung problems such as asthma. Good indoor air quality means sufficient fresh air but fresh does not mean cold: heat recovery ventilation is the ideal. Also, it is especially important to fix damp and condensation problems if you have any. External air quality is also important. If you live in an area with air pollution, filtered ventilation systems can remove some of this. Some trees and plants can help. Filters can also remove pollen to reduce hay fever.
Check where your major heat losses are likely to be and how much you could save using this tool. More
You have some problems with damp and/or mould. This is bad for your health and bad for the building fabric as well as adding to your heating bills. We have advice here to help you identify the cause and what can be done about it. For minor problems, getting a dehumidifier can help but it is better to identify the source of the problem and fix it. More You may need to consult a: Expert depends on the cause.
Condensation around windows is formed when warm moist air from the room hits a cold window. This is most common with single glazed windows and upgrading them should fix it. Poor ventilation will exacerbate the problem as the air can get very moist. It is especially important to ventilate well in rooms where you get a lot of moisture in the air such as from showers and baths, cooking or drying wet clothes. More You may need to consult a: Expert depends on the cause.
Fixing this will make a big difference. It takes a lot of heat to dry out wet things and that goes for your walls as well as your laundry. Damp in walls can either be due to rising damp - something wrong with your damp proof course - or penetrating damp which means you have water coming in from outside. You can usually tell from the pattern of where it appears. More You may need to consult a: Expert depends on the cause.
If you have damp walls, reducing the ventilation can make that even worse so fix the damp problem before taking on the draughts!
Whenever you fix draughts, it is important to bear in mind that you do need some ventilation. The simplest way to ensure sufficient fresh air is to have trickle vents on your windows and extractors in kitchens and bathrooms. However this approach is more likely to give you too much than too little and there are better control systems available. If your home is sufficiently airtight you can install heat recovery ventilation to reduce heat loss even more. More You may need to consult a: BuilderThe Federation of Master Builders promotes standards and can help you find a competent builder in your area..
If you have condensation problems, reducing ventilation can make these worse - unless the condensation is due to moisture coming in from outside via the draughty gaps.
Fix draughty windows with draught strips, or mastic for big gaps. More
Since you have sash windows it may be worth employing a professional to help – sash windows are very draughty and are tricky to seal well.We recommend you consult a: Sash windows installerLook for a FENSA approved installer and check they do sash windows, as this is quite a specialist area..
Fix draughty doors with draught strips, brush excluder and keyhole cover. More
Gaps between floorboards, around pipes and cables and below skirting boards can be filled with mastic, sealant or lengths of wooden beading. More
Consider blocking your air bricks. Although these are intentional ventilation, in some cases air bricks remain after the reason they were installed (such as a gas fire) has been removed. You should be wary of sealing them unless there is another source of ventilation but you do not normally need more than one per room, and trickle vents on windows are normally sufficient.You may need to consult a: BuilderThe Federation of Master Builders promotes standards and can help you find a competent builder in your area..
Open chimneys are draughty and suck warm air out of your house so it is important to close off flues when they are not in use. This can be done with a fitted flap (called a damper) that you can open and close, or a removable device such as a chimney fleece. If the chimney is open at the top, the rain can get in, and you need air flow to dry it out. More You may need to consult a: Chimney sweepAsk your chimney sweep about advice on installing a chimney damper..
If you are unsure where your draughts are coming from, there are some simple techniques you can try. They are more effective when it is windy and you really need to test with different wind directions. Turning on extractors can help as this creates a difference in pressure which sucks in air from outside through the draughty gaps. Use the back of your hand to check for draughts, as it is more sensitive than your palm. If you are still stuck, you could get an air tightness test using a blower door which should be able to narrow down the source of the leaks. More You may need to consult a: Blower door testerAir leakage testers should be members of ATTMA.
Fit an extractor fan in your bathroom, kitchen and utility rooms so you do not have to waste energy by leaving the windows open. The extractor fan can be triggered in various ways - by a light switch, movement sensor or humidity or manually activated with a timer. Ideally, fit one that incorporates heat recovery. More We recommend you consult a: ElectricianAll electrical work should be done by 'registered competent person'. You can search the register here. Some jobs need+advice!E7 to be certified for building control too. There are a number of organisations that run schemes for self-certification such as NICEIC..
If your home is fairly airtight you can consider whole house ventilation with heat recovery. This means replacing your extractors and trickle vents with a system that ensures balanced ventilation through throughout while scavenging heat from the stale air. Air flow can be provided by electric fans or (except for single storey dwellings) relying on natural air flow. More We recommend you consult a: Retrofit CoordinatorA retrofit coordinate will give you a risk assessment for complex building work. This will involve checking the condition of your home (including possible damp, air tightness and insulation issues) and other aspects depending on the combination of measures you wish to consider. They can also help you devise a plan by modelling your home and testing different options against your goals. During construction, they can inspect works. Try Ecofurb or use the Trustmark website..
A ventilation system with filters helps to remove air pollution, especially the larger particles. However, this will not work well while your home is draughty because the air coming in will bypass the filters.
You can improve the quality of air in your home by installing a ventilation system with filters. You can get filters with different grades - the finest will remove pollen. They do need changing, or at least cleaning, regularly. MVHR systems (mechanical ventilation with heat recovery) are very energy efficient. The heat recovery means that air going out warms the air coming in and can capture up to 90% of the heat. More
When air pollution is a problem, fixing it at source is better than trying to filter it out. Low emissions vehicles produce are better than diesel and petrol vehicles but all vehicles emit particles from tyres and brakes as they wear away. Trees and shrubs along the roads can help so you could try asking your council if they can do something. More
Tuck your curtains behind the radiator to stop the heat going straight out of the window. More
For radiators below window ledges, it helps to extend the window ledge or fit a shelf above the radiator, to ensure that air flowing up from the radiator is directed into the room. More You may need to consult a: Carpenter.
For your sash windows you may prefer to install slimline double glazing or secondary glazing More We recommend you consult a: Sash windows installerLook for a FENSA approved installer and check they do sash windows, as this is quite a specialist area..
As a cheap alternative to double glazing, use secondary glazing film and/or thick curtains. More
You have insufficient insulation in your loft - fixing this is usually a very effective way to reduce heat loss. Insulation can be installed between and over the joists, with a firm surface for storage. Or you can install insulation between and below the rafters. However it is important to ensure there is sufficient ventilation, to protect timbers from rotting. If you have insulation over the joists, the lioft itself is cold and the more insulation it has, the colder. This means that any moist air leaking into the loft from below that is not wafterd away quickly is very likely to condense and cause problems. You may find you need ventilation at ridge level as well as under the eaves. More You may need to consult a: BuilderThe Federation of Master Builders promotes standards and can help you find a competent builder in your area..
You have too little insulation in your attic - fixing this will make it much cosier. There are a number of options for adding insulating under the rafters. More You may need to consult a: BuilderThe Federation of Master Builders promotes standards and can help you find a competent builder in your area..
Consider getting your cavity walls filled. More We recommend you consult a: Cavity insulation installerCavity walls insulation intallers should be registered with CIGA (Cavity Walls Guarantee Agency). You can find one on their website..
Unfilled cavity walls with no insulation can be as bad as solid walls for heat loss. Rather than insulating the cavity you can insulate the walls on the inside or the outside, as if they were solid walls. More We recommend you consult a: Retrofit CoordinatorA retrofit coordinate will give you a risk assessment for complex building work. This will involve checking the condition of your home (including possible damp, air tightness and insulation issues) and other aspects depending on the combination of measures you wish to consider. They can also help you devise a plan by modelling your home and testing different options against your goals. During construction, they can inspect works. Try Ecofurb or use the Trustmark website..
Check if you have cavity walls that can be filled. More
Since your cavity walls were filled a long time ago it might be worth checking if they are in good condition. This is easily done with a thermal camera. More
You have some walls that are not cavity walls and do not have insulation. They are likely to be a large source of heat loss. You could insulate them with either external insulation or internal insulation. More We recommend you consult a: Retrofit CoordinatorA retrofit coordinate will give you a risk assessment for complex building work. This will involve checking the condition of your home (including possible damp, air tightness and insulation issues) and other aspects depending on the combination of measures you wish to consider. They can also help you devise a plan by modelling your home and testing different options against your goals. During construction, they can inspect works. Try Ecofurb or use the Trustmark website..
Fit foil behind your radiators that are on uninsulated external walls to stop the heat going out through the wall More
Insulating under your floorboards is a good way to reduce heat loss from a suspended floor. This need not involve taking up the whole floor, just a part of it. However, it is very important that the floor joists have sufficient ventilation underneath. Alternatively, rather than just insulating, you could consider installing underfloor heating at the same time. This will remove the need for radiators and make it easier to install a heat pump later, if you choose to do so, More We recommend you consult a: BuilderThe Federation of Master Builders promotes standards and can help you find a competent builder in your area..
To get the most out of your central heating system you need to make sure that the radiators are running efficiently and that the boiler settings are appropriate. More
With a condensing boiler, you can often improve efficiency by turning down the temperature for the water that goes to your radiators. This is easiest with combi boilers as you have separate controls for radiators and hot water. You can save up to 8% of your heating energy. More
Upgrade your boiler More We recommend you consult a: Heating engineerThe people who service your existing boiler should be able to help with this..
To get the most out of your heat pump it is important not to treat it like a boiler. In particular, you need to program the thermostat for a fairly steady temperature, as heat pumps do not do well at heating up from cold quickly. Also you need to make sure your radiators are working well. If they are rusted up or have air locks then the heat output can be greatly diminished. More
Open fires are not very efficient as a lot of heat goes straight up the chimney; a wood stove is much better as the air flow is controllable. However even a wood stove generates air pollution which is not a good idea in a city. If you really want to the use your fire, consider replacing it with a stove. If you do not use it, consider closing the chimney at the top and putting in an ornamental fireplace. If the chimney is open at the top it can get rain in and you need air flow to dry it out so you can only have a flap or a device that partially blocks the chimney. More We recommend you consult a: Stove installerYour stove installer should be a member of HETAS..
Wood stoves are great for cosy warmth. We have some tips for running them cleanly so they are efficient and do not clog up your chimney. More
The Centre for Sustainable Energy has advice on running room heaters efficiently. More
Consider setting your central heating themostat low and using targetted direct heat when you need it. This will reduce your emissions by using less gas.
Turning down your heating thermostat is very effective in reducing bills. Try adjusting it little by little. More
Unless your home loses heat very quickly, you should be able to turn the heating off 30 minutes or so before you go to bed. More
You may want different temperatures in different rooms. Some people prefer bedrooms to be cool (and others want them warm!). Adjusting settings can be tricky as you need to while for each change to take effect. Also heat leaks between rooms quite a bit so you cannot control each independently, at least not completely. More
Smart controls such as weather compensation systems can make your heating system operate more efficiently by avoiding frequent on/off cycles and by reducing the radiator temperature when this is possible. This is especially important for condensing boilers and even more critical for heat pumps - weather compensation is usually built in for heat pumps. More We recommend you consult a: Heating engineerThe people who service your existing boiler should be able to help with this..
You can turn down the radiators in rooms you do not use by adjusting the radiator valves. Remember to shut the door as well. There will still be heat leaking in from adjacent rooms and through the external wall and this is usually enough to keep it from getting too cold and damp. If the adjacent rooms are not heated either you will need to air the room sometimes and adjust the heating up slightly if it seems damp. Turning down the radiators may not be a good idea if you have a heat pump as it increases the load on the radiators in adjacent rooms and you do not want to have to increase the radiator temperature as that reduces the efficiency of the heat pump.
Upgrade your heating controls. You should have a timer, a thermostat and thermostatic radiator valves in all rooms. More We recommend you consult a: Heating engineerThe people who service your existing boiler should be able to help with this..
The hotter you keep your hot water cylinder the faster it loses heat. This is so even if it is insulated, though insulation does help. Most people only need to keep the cylinder at 60°C, which is the minimum to kill bacteria. More You may need to consult a: Expert depends on if you already have a thermostat with a dial..
Insulate your hot water tank More
Insulating the pipes between your boiler and your hot water tank is usually effective. This can also help to keep your home cooler in summertime, when you really do not want unnecessary heat. More
Avoid running the hot tap unless you really need hot water - if you do not wait for the hot to come through you may as well use cold. This is especially important for taps that have a long pipe run and take a long time to get warm. More
Get an aerating head for your shower which reduces the water flow rate. This can halve the water you use in the shower and saves water as well as heating. More
If you have a combi boiler, every time you run the hot tap it turns the boiler on and off again afterwards. This uses quite a bit of gas. So if you don't really need hot water, use the cold instead. Also, batch up your washing up so that you do not run the tap frequently for small amounts of hot water.
Many combi boilers have a keep-hot (or 'pre-heat' facility which means they keep a small store of water hot all the time. This is so they can give you hot water at the tap more quickly. However, the boiler has to turn on fairly often to keep it hot; turning it off can save up to 10% of your bill. More
Switching off appliances when they are not needed saves energy and also helps to keep your home cool in summer. The benefit depends on how much power the device uses. Large screen TVs and monitors can use quite a bit.
Find ways to avoid using your high energy appliances, for instance, do not overfill the kettle and use a washing line instead of a tumble dryer. Also, avoid running the washing machine or dishwasher when it is only partly full. More
Whenever you replace an appliance, get the most efficient that you can. Many appliances have energy ratings. More
When your home is too hot, opening windows to get a cross draught can be very effective provided it is cooler outside than in. Ideally you should do this overnight, when it is coolest. More
Planting deciduous shrubs and trees is a great way to create shade for your windows in summer without losing too much light in winter. More
To reduce overheating in summer, shading the windows is essential. We recommend fitting reflective blinds if possible (outside is best but inside is also good) but just closing curtains will make a big difference. This is especially important for West facing windows. Another trick is to fit a removable awning to the outside of the window. More
Flat roofs covered in bitumen are dreadful for absorbing heat. Give them a coat of light coloured paint to reflect the sun. Insulation can also help (keeps the heat out in summer and the heat in during the winter). More
Solar PV panels generate electricity that you can use yourself, and you can expert the energy you do not use. You can also install a battery to store the power you generate for later. More We recommend you consult a: MCS installerFind an installer at the MCS website.
Solar hot water panels are more efficient than solar electric panels. However, if you make too much heat than you need the energy will be wasted, so we would only recommend them if you use a lot of hot water. If you choose to install solar PV panels instead, you can put in a diverter to put spare power into the immersion heater, so you can still heat your hot water. More We recommend you consult a: MCS installerFind an installer at the MCS website.
Rather than exporting unused power to the grid you can use it to heat your hot water cylinder. You need a solar diverter such as iBoost or Immersun. This feeds spare power into your immersion heater. More
We recommend you consider installing a battery to go with your PV panels. This will increase your self consumption and, if you have a smart meter, allow you to get a higher export tariff by exporting at peak timesWe recommend you consult a: Solar battery installerIf this is to go with PV panels, try your PV installer or another MCS installer. Also some electricity suppliers have special deals for home battery installations so it is wirth checking with them..
If you have solar hot water panels, it is important to configure your hot water heating so that you do not use the boiler to heat your water in the morning - give the panels a chance first. More
Solar PV panels are very reliable but it is easy to forget to check they are working. So do check your app or your meter occasionally when it is sunny to see that they are generating. Always check after a power cut to see that they have reset. Also it is a good idea to try running large appliances when it is sunny day so you can use your own electricity. More