Recent gloomy weather predictions claim that we’re set to experience another 20 years of wind and rain – not what you want to hear over your cornflakes, really, but if there’s one thing we Brits are good at, it’s stiffening the upper lip and getting on with it. Not that we have to get on with it without help, of course. The prudent homeowner looks to weatherproof his or her property before the storms hit – and with a little extra help, it doesn’t have to cost the earth.
“Weatherproofing” is a loose term, which can be used to mean protecting the outside of the home from weather coming in, or protecting the inside of the home from heat leaking out. The most effective weatherproofing does a bit of both: sealing the gaps, and ramping up the insulation.
Be aware, though, that there are gaps and there are gaps. An old house in particular requires some draught to ventilate it properly. Plugging all the holes might stop the wind whistling in the cracks – but it will also, over time, promote mould and damp.
Loft insulation can make a huge difference to the temperature control in a home. By insulating the roof space, you keep the place cool when the weather gets hot and warm when it gets cold. The insulation reflects the heat from your heating system back into the house, so you no longer have to pay for heat that’s coming up through the roof and floating away. In the summer, when the sun beats on the roof, the same insulation reflects the outside heat back away into the air.
Many people refrain from insulating their roof spaces properly because they fear the cost. At the moment, funding is available for some energy companies to provide free roof and loft insulation. Your local council should be able to confirm whether there are free loft insulation initiatives running in your area – such as the one being run by Enact Energy in Devon. These initiatives are funded by Government grants aimed at improving the energy efficiency of local homes – and may also tie in with Green Deal preparations.
The Green Deal is another way to finance energy saving home improvements – which come under the heading of weather proofing when they conspire to make your home warmer or more watertight. As a general rule, your home expends more energy when it is vulnerable to weather, when you turn the heating up to compensate for temperature and humidity. The Green Deal undertakes to offer financing options for homes wishing to improve insulation, or install a new boiler. The money borrowed is then paid back through future energy payments – with a “Golden Rule” stating that you should never pay more, with your repayments plus actual fuel costs, than you would have paid if you decided not to go ahead with the improvements.
Ultimately, there are things you can do to weatherproof your home that have smaller cost implications. Simple draught excluders can noticeably reduce the amount of heating energy your house requires. And if you move your thermostat to a more optimal policing inside your home, your boiler will be asked to kick out less energy before it turns off.
For more ideas on saving money and energy this winter, warm up to Ask Granny,