It’s something affecting all of us when the days turn darker and colder, and that’s how to insulate your home for winter.
Fortunately, there are effective and simple methods and tricks when it comes to insulating your home which will reduce heat loss and also, more importantly, help to lower your heating bills.
Here, we take a look at some of the potential solutions and while the most obvious will have a cost, we also take a look at some low-tech ways of insulating your property and keeping it warm.
Insulating your roof and loft
Since a quarter of the heat being lost from your home is through the roof then insulating your attic or loft is an effective and simple way to reduce heat loss.
The big attraction for loft insulation is that it will remain effective for 40 years so it will recoup its cost many times over with much lower bills.
For those lofts that are easy to access – and if you have no condensation or damp issues – then it’s a straightforward process to insulate the area and you could potentially do this yourself.
If access to your loft joists is easy, then you can use rolls of mineral wool insulation. If you’ve never done this before, then you lay the first layer between the joists and then a second layer at right angles to cover the joists and take the installation to the required depth.
If you are planning to use your loft for storage purposes, or you want to lay boards over the joists, then you need to be aware that insulating between these joists will mean raising the floor level so you can fit more insulation beneath it.
Fit insulation between the rafters
An alternative solution is to fit insulation between the rafters, those are the roof’s sloping timbers and you can use insulation board or foam insulation.
This alternative solution, you will need to appreciate, is a specialist job and it’s unlikely you will have the skills to carry it out successfully.
Another solution is to create a living space using insulation materials and plasterboard to create it.
Should your loft space be inaccessible, then you can hire a firm to blow insulation into the awkward space and if your loft is damp, then you need to resolve this issue first before insulation is fitted.
For those with flat roofs, then you may need to install the insulation from underneath, but be aware of condensation issues.
Cavity wall insulation
After the roof, a cavity wall may be responsible for a third of an uninsulated home’s heat loss so this is worthy of investment.
Usually, a home that has been built from the 1990s should have wall insulation to help retain heat but older homes may not have any wall insulation whatsoever.
In the UK, a house will either have a cavity wall or a solid wall.
Cavity walls have been used in most homes since the 1920s and a cavity is essentially the gap between the concrete block brick on the interior and the outer brick wall.
Before this time, homes in the UK had solid walls so there is no cavity – but they leak around twice as much heat as a cavity wall will.
Insulating a cavity wall
Essentially, you’ll need to insulate from either inside the property or from outside, and this will cost much more than insulating a cavity wall.
However, having said that, the savings that will be enjoyed should be considerable plus your home will be more comfortable and much warmer.
The process to insulate a cavity wall is straightforward and the best way is to inject insulation into the cavity from the exterior and the holes used for this purpose are then sealed.
As for costs and savings, you should be able to get a return on the cost within five years because of the savings you make on heating bills.
Insulating water tanks and pipes
Another way to insulate your property to help keep it warm is to lag the water tanks and pipes as well as looking to fit reflector panels behind your radiators.
This will help reduce the amount of heat that is being lost and you’ll also find that hot water will remain hotter for much longer so won’t spend as much heating water up for warming your home.
Most people are able to insulate a hot water tank and they can buy a hot water cylinder jacket and you simply follow the manufacturer’s instructions to fit it. These cost around £15.
You can insulate pipes using foam tubes, though you’ll need to buy the correct size before fitting them.
You should also consider radiator reflector panels, which are a low-cost option and are affixed behind the radiator to reflect heat back into the room. They are a great idea if you are installing them on uninsulated solid walls.
Insulating your floor
Most people will not consider insulating their floor but you can fit insulation underneath floorboards which could save you around £40 a year. You can also seal the gaps to reduce draughts between the skirting boards and the floor.
It’s also worth considering for those homeowners with an integral garage that any floors above this unheated space should be insulated to prevent heat from being lost through the floor.
One of the most effective and cheapest ways to save energy and lower your heating bills is to use draught-proofing.
The aim is to block any unwanted gaps that allow cold air to enter your property and warm air to leave it. By blocking these gaps you will use less energy for heating your property and you will be saving money.
One of the big benefits of properly draught proofing a home is that draught-free homes are more comfortable at a lower temperature so homeowners can turn down their thermostats and enjoy savings on their heating bill.
How do you keep your house warm in the winter?
There are various ways to keep your house warm in the winter months, and here we look at some of them.
You should ensure that radiators are bled to ensure there are no air blocks to prevent the full functioning of the radiator.
Also, we mentioned earlier about placing something behind the radiator to reflect heat and you could simply use tin foil for this purpose. You can also buy foil that has been specially designed for this job.
Another important tip to keep your room warm is to avoid placing items such as furniture that covers the radiator as this will absorb the heat.
One of the best ways to protect your home from losing heat is to use heavy curtains, particularly those with a thermal lining.
Some websites may recommend using PVC shower curtains as a way to insulate the windows to prevent heat loss too and you could place curtains in front of the door which will help to add a layer of protection.
While double- and triple-glazing is an effective way to keep your property warm, it can be an expensive option.
For those who don’t fancy paying for it, then you can buy a special film that is placed across a single glazed window to create the double-glazed effect, though it’s not quite as effective.
To do so, you use double-sided tape and attach the film to the window frame and fix it in place by using a hairdryer.
Remember though, you will be unable to open the windows without having to break the seal first. Having said that, the packs of film are very cheap.
We also mentioned earlier about draught-proofing and you can simply use plastic or metal strips with wipers or brushes attached to seal any gaps in the windows and you can fit draught excluders around the frames and hinges of doors.
For homes with chimneys, you are losing heat through it so you could buy a chimney balloon which are cheap and is placed just inside the chimney entrance in the room. It’s then inflated and will prevent any incoming cold air or heat escaping.
Remember, you will be unable to start a fire without removing the chimney balloon first.
If you have an unused room then switch off the radiator, close the door and effectively seal it with draught-proofing so cold air does not move into the rest of the property.
You should cover your floorboards since around 10% of your property’s heat loss will be through them. You can use blankets and rugs and if there are cracks in the floorboards, then buy some filler – particularly the fillers that will tolerate movement as skateboards and floorboards can contract or expand.
How to insulate your home for winter questions
Questions you may have about how to insulate your home for winter:
How can I make my cold room warmer?
For anyone asking, ‘How can I make my cold room warmer?’, then the information above will help.
The trick is to insulate the room properly so the heat that is generated is retained for longer so you don’t run up big bills.
You may even need an additional plug-in electric heater to generate heat in short bursts whenever it’s needed.
Also, during the day, keep the room warm by using sunlight and at night use thick curtains to preserve heat. To really ensure you are insulated properly, it might be worth getting an energy performance certificate which may highlight the areas where insulation can be improved.
How can I insulate my house better?
The first step is to consult with a professional to see what type of insulation work may be necessary and how much it will cost.
This article is aimed at highlighting how you can insulate your home effectively for a cold winter and if you are unable to carry out any relevant work, then you will need an expert to do it for you.
The National Insulation Association is a great place to start.
How to insulate a house cheaply
One of the big attractions for those wanting to insulate a house cheaply is that all of the measures are essentially cost-effective.
Insulating the loft is the best way of keeping your home warm and this insulating material is cheap.
There’s more cost involved when opting for cavity wall insulation and double glazing since these are specialist products and you’ll need to hire a firm to carry out the work.
However, this saving should make a return on the investment within five years and that will help offset these costs – and don’t forget that you can carry out simple and cheap tricks such as draught-proofing doors and floors and using heavy curtains for your windows.
Why is my house so cold even with the heating on?
Depending on the age of your property, if your house is cold, even with the heating on, it’s likely that you have an insulation problem.
Again, you could hire a professional to analyse where heat is being lost by using special cameras and they will make recommendations as to the work that is required.
Essentially, when it comes to insulating your home for winter, and keeping it warm without spending a fortune on heating bills, it will mean investing in quality insulation products to ensure your home is not losing heat which means spending more on heating bills on keeping warm.