Draught-proofing tips for your home
12 October 2023
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It’s important that our homes have controlled ventilation, in order to help reduce condensation from building up and helping fresh air to circulate. However, draughts are not the same as controlled ventilation as they let too much cold air indoors and can mean that heat is wasted. Draughts are found where there are small gaps between the exterior and interior of the home and are especially noticeable when it’s very cold outside or on windy days.
Draught-proofing involves blocking unwanted gaps that let warm air escape and cold air get indoors. This means that you won’t be losing as much heat from the home and should therefore use less energy when heating it, helping you to save money and enjoy a more comfortable temperature in your property too.
Generally, draught-proofing involves using physical barriers to stop draughts from entering the home or moving around indoors from an unheated space to a heated one.
Getting the professionals in to draught-proof some homes could be expensive, especially in the case of very old properties, which often have more gaps or cracks that let cold air indoors and might need more measures to be taken.
However, most simple draught-proofing tasks can be easily done yourself, using materials that are usually very inexpensive to buy, and some of which you may even already have around the home.
There are some common areas of the home where you might find draughts and the best time to check for them is on a windy day. Holding your hand close to the area means you should be able to feel if cold air is coming through.
Common culprits when it comes to draughts in the home include:
- Small gaps between windows and their frames
- Around window locks or catches
- Around door frames of external doors
- If there are gaps at the bottom of internal doors
- Keyholes in external doors
- Around loft hatches
Windows are one of the most common areas for draughts and fixing the issue can depend on the type of window that you have. For the most common kinds of UPVC windows, you can:
- Use inexpensive self-adhesive foam strips around the window frame to cover any gaps. This can be easily cut to size but make sure you measure properly before cutting to avoid wastage. If these are windows that open, you will also need to make sure the strips don’t stop the window from being opened or closed easily.
- Close blinds and/or curtains to help better keep the heat in. Thick, lined curtains are best for this, but any curtains are likely to help somewhat.
For some external doors, cold draughts can get in around the edges of the door, through a gap at the bottom, through a keyhole, and through the letterbox, so there are lots of things you can do to minimise this. You can:
- Buy an inexpensive keyhole cover that slides over the hole when it’s not in use
- Use a letterbox flap or brush to minimise any draughts getting through
- Use self-adhesive foam strips around the edges of the door if there are gaps. You’ll need to measure and cut these to size, ensuring the door can still open and close easily.
For internal doors, gaps around the edges can be even more common, as wood expands and contracts with changes in temperature. You can:
- Use the same self-adhesive strips between the door and the frame
- Use a brush or draught excluder at the bottom of the door, where gaps are usually the biggest
- Keep doors closed to any rooms that you’re not heating
If you have a chimney in your property with an open fireplace that isn’t being used, it’s very common to feel draughts coming down it and into your home. A great fix for this is to use a ‘chimney sheep’. This is a special draught excluder made specially for chimneys and made from 100% pure wool, so is a great insulator. Chimney sheep come in lots of different sizes for different types of fireplaces and you simply place it at the base of the chimney in a cooled fireplace. There is a handle hanging down so that you can simply pull it back out of the chimney when you want to remove it.
If your property has a loft hatch that has a draught coming through around the frame, you can essentially treat this like you would a window and use self-adhesive foam strips to cover any gaps around the hatch and its frame.
Most of the draught-proofing ideas already mentioned are inexpensive, but there might be some ways you can help reduce draughts for free, with things you already have around the home.
For example, you can make two draught excluders for the bottom of internal doors out of an old pair of sturdy trousers or jeans. Cutting off the legs and sewing up one end of each means that you can stuff the hollow ‘legs’ with whatever you have available, such as old plastic carrier bags or scraps of cloth from old clothes or blankets. Once full, sew up the other ends and you have two new draught excluders ready to go.
Another completely free way to reduce draughts at colder times of the year could be to make a cardboard cover flap for the back of your letterbox. Simply cut a rectangle out of any cardboard box, making sure that it’s a little larger than your letterbox, and attach it along the top edge of your door, just above the letterbox opening. As it’s only attached on the top edge, your post will still come through the flap, but then the cardboard will hang down over the back of the letterbox when not in use, stopping unwanted cold air from getting in. You can decorate the cardboard in any way you wish, covering it with nice paper (or spare wallpaper) or simply painting it to match your door colour so it’s more subtle, as you enjoy a cosier home.
While keeping unwanted draughts out is important, it’s also essential to ensure that there is adequate ventilation in your home. This means that you should never cover over air bricks, extractor fans, wall vents or trickle vents in windows.
If you have a cellar in your home, they are often very cold in winter, so making sure that you stop draughts coming through the doorway or hatch to the cellar can make a real difference. Use any of the tips for doors mentioned earlier to help protect the rest of your home from cold air coming up from the cellar.
In most circumstances, draught-proofing a property is the responsibility of the tenant.
There can be exceptions to this, such as if a structural issue with the property is allowing unwanted cold air in, like major cracks or gaps in brickwork or if a window or external door is faulty and cannot be closed properly. If this is the case, you should contact your landlord to report the problem as they will be responsible for the repair.
If you’re a Places for People Customer, please report the issue on your online account.
A draughty home can cost you more on your energy bills, as well as making things less comfortable in your property during colder months. With a few straightforward and budget-friendly draught-proofing measures, you can minimise the unwanted cold air coming into the home and make it more energy efficient.
We hope that you found the tips in this article useful. If so, why not check out some of our other how-to-guides and useful blogs about looking after your home?