Banish draughts for a warmer home with these 10 expert tips

We reveal the easy and practical steps you can take to keep your rooms toasty and energy-efficient this winter

hygge illustration by nicola rew
Nicola Rew

Blankets are great and we all love a good pair of cosy slippers, but when these trusty warming tools fail to take off the chill, it’s time to look for a more long-term solution. And, for most homes, that means finding where the cold air is getting in and stopping it in its tracks.

For that, we had to ask the experts for some practical, no-nonsense advice. Here are their ten top tips – all easy and affordable. It's your guide to a warmer winter…

1 Deal with unused chimneys

    Despite being best associated with warm roaring fires, more often than not chimneys suck in cold air and let heat escape. A chimney balloon prevents this. ‘You inflate it with a pump about 30 centimetres above the fire opening until it fits snugly, then turn a hand-grip tap to lock it in place,’ says inventor David Woodman. You do need to temporarily remove it if you want to light a fire, but if you forget to it will just shrivel harmlessly. From £20, chimneyballoon.co.uk/

        2 Instantly upgrade radiators

        Fit Radflek reflectors to radiators. Laminated aluminium foil panels that hang from the brackets at the back, they reflect warmth back into the room and reduce heat loss through the walls by up to 45 per cent. From £21.99 for a three sheet pack, which fits up to six radiators radflek.com

        3 Invest in energy-saving window dressings

        Duette energy-saving blinds can reduce heat loss by up to 46 per cent according to the brand. Their honeycomb structure improves insulation by trapping hot air. £150 for a 60x40-centimetre blind, duette.co.uk

        4 Get more heat from your woodburner

        Make your wood-burning stove more efficient with a Firemizer, a flexible metal grid that reduces the burn rate of your fuel. Place it at the base of your stove; it works by slowing the air flow and conducting heat evenly across the fire to ensure all fuel is fully combusted.
        £19.99, firemizer.com

        illustration nicola rew
        Nicola Rew

        5 Seal traditional windows during colder months

        If you have sash windows, you can magnetically attach a made-to-measure, lightweight clear membrane to the frames during the winter. It forms an airtight seal in the same way as double glazing. Fitted by London-based company Window Skins, it’s also easy to remove. From £130 per square metre, windowskins.co.uk

        6 Insulate wooden floors

        Live in an old house? Take this sage advice from Patrick McCool, founder of Make My Home Green, which specialises in period properties. ‘Stop heat escaping through the floor by insulating suspended timber floors with a vapour-control layer to prevent condensation,
        15 centimetres of flexible wool insulation, and a windproof breathable membrane on top’. From £95 per metre, makemyhomegreen.com

        cosy illustration by nicola rew
        Nicola Rew

        7 Think about the front door

        ‘A metal keyhole cover, a letterbox brush and draught excluders for the gap at the bottom of exterior doors are all quick ways to protect your home from draughts,’ says Aled Stephens of the Energy Saving Trust, energysavingtrust.org.uk

        8 Check carpets aren’t letting in cold air

        If you have a pale carpet and it turns dark at the sides, it indicates a draught underneath. Lift the edges and use a sealant such as ‘Draught Ex Standard’ to fill in any gaps between the floorboards. £28.99 for a 40-metre roll, suitable for two to seven-millimetre gaps draughtex.co.uk

        9 Don’t forget to look up

        ‘When draught-proofing a loft, many people ignore the hatch,’says Russell Smith, founder of Parity Projects, which specialises in low-energy refurbishment. ‘By packing insulation around it and on the back, you’ll stop heat escaping into the roof.’

        10 Make the loft your home’s woolly hat

        ‘There are around seven million properties in the UK that don’t have thick enough loft insulation,’ says Neil Marshall, who is chief executive of the National Insulation Association. ‘It should be a depth of 27 centimetres; the simplest and most cost-effective type to use is rolls of mineral wool, which you fit between the eaves and across the joists.’ nia-uk.org

        This article appeared in the January 2017 issue of ELLE Decoration

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