Draught proofing (or draught exclusion) is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to cut energy costs in the home, whether you live in a house or a flat. The concept is really simple: stop cold air coming in and prevent warm air from escaping, using things like draught excluders. Keeping the warm air inside will save you money on your utility bills as the existing heating system will need to work less hard to keep the home at the required temperature.
Draughts or gaps in the home act like unwanted ventilation shafts, allowing cold air to seep in and hot air to escape. When the household heats their home, these uncontrolled ventilation gaps let expensive hot air escape.
Although more often than not, some heat escapes regardless of the actions of a householder, additional temporary draughts occur by leaving doors, windows and letterboxes open.
Potential savings from installing draught proofing
It is estimated that installing draught proofing measures in an average UK home could save the household £60 per year on heating bills.
According to the Energy Saving Trust, if every home were to do this in the UK, the total energy savings could be worth as much as £190 million, and the energy saved would heat nearly 400,000 homes.
How do I identify a draught?
You will be able to find draughts just about anywhere in your house that links directly to the outside. You could easily be in front of one now. They are found by doors, windows, loft hatches, keyholes, electrical fittings on the ceilings, under the floorboards, piping leading outside and any drilled holes for cabling that leads outside. Remember that day when you had that cable or Sky TV installed and the drilling that took place?
The best way to deal with these draughts is to close the gaps using draught excluders and block the holes.
Some rooms in the home need natural ventilation, such as bathrooms, kitchens or rooms with an open fire. These types of rooms generate a lot of condensation and by blocking the ventilation outlets, you may also encourage damp and mould to form, which may end up being unpleasant and costing you additional money to fix.
Draught proofing – DIY vs. professional jobs
Draught proofing pays for itself in just a couple of years in most cases, by reducing your energy consumption and therefore your energy bills. Draught proofing can be a fairly simple home DIY job, although for more complex measures, help may be required.
Obviously, if you are uncomfortable carrying out the work yourself we strongly recommend getting in a professional to complete the work regardless. A professional should be able to identify draughts very quickly, and will know what to fill them with, therefore saving you a lot of time and energy.
Think we missed something? Do you have a different opinion?
Pipes and vents are areas that you may over look when considering draught proofing your home. Draught proofing these areas is easily done, affordable and effective.
How do I draught proof pipes and vents?
Gaps may be found in the area where pipes pass through walls and floorboards; draught proofing these areas is a simple but effective way of stemming the heat loss flow. Foam-based fillers are simple and great for draughting proofing irregular gaps like the ones caused by pipes. However, as with all other draught proofing measures, if you do not feel comfortable in your DIY skills, we advise getting a professional draught proofer to do it for you.
Similar to the areas around pipes, you may find sites that should be draught proofed around retrofitted vents. In these cases, foam fillers should be used, although rigid filler may also be used if a smooth finish is preferable.
Air bricks and bathroom vents
A word of caution: there are some areas that should never be blocked off or insulated. Air bricks are there for a reason – to prevent your floorboards and wooden supports from rotting. A constant flow of air is needed to prevent damp from entering the property and running havoc. When you get floor insulation done professionally, these air bricks are kept free to allow air into the area, so it is essential not to block this off.
The same goes for vents in the bathroom, as damp can easily build up in these humid rooms without adequate ventilation. So remember, draught proofing is great, but allow your home breathing space!
Even after completely draught-proofing your windows, doors and floors, you may still be left with a large area of concern in the shape of the chimney stack. A lot of heat can be lost through an uninsulated chimney. Unless your chimney is never used, you need to choose a temporary draught-proofing solution that can be removed as and when you want to light the fire.
Draught-proofing chimneys with a Chimney Sheep
For the most sustainable method of chimney draught-proofing, try a Chimney Sheep. These are made from 100% pure and natural sheep wool for the excluder and recycled plastic for the handle. Siting snuggly in the chimney, they provide the perfect barrier between the cold outside and the warm indoors. The Chimney Sheep has a strong and rigid centre, which allows it to remain in place up the chimney, and a more flexible outer circumference enabling each size to fit a wide variety of chimney shapes and sizes.
Draught proofing chimneys with chimney balloons
There is a really easy solution to prevent these draughts, which does not involve permanently boarding up your fireplace or blocking your chimney. You can use a chimney balloon.
A chimney balloon is essentially a balloon that you inflate in your chimney that creates a snug fit, thereby preventing hot air escaping up out of the chimney or cold air dropping down it, helping to prevent draughts in your home.
You position the balloon up in the lower regions of the chimney stack and then inflate it, which holds it in place. The balloon is designed to stop the majority of airflow, but it will still allow a little ventilation so you don’t have any damp issues.
The inflated balloon can then be left in position until you want to have a fire, at which point you deflate the bag and store it, ready for it to be re-inflated for future use. Chimney balloons come in lots of different sizes to ensure you get a snug fit within the chimney, helping to keep draughts at a minimum. They are also really simple to fit. As a rough guide, a chimney balloon will cost you approximately £25 give or take a few pounds depending on the size you buy, and you can also buy a handgrip extension kit £5-10 to help inflate the chimney balloon when it is out of normal reach.
Can you draught proof a chimney with anything else?
You can obviously opt to draught proof your chimney by simply stuffing plastic bags up it – the issue with this is twofold. Firstly, if you forget it is there and light the fire, you can actually cause a chimney fire. The second is that it will be far more difficult to ensure that you are stopping all the draughts. We have also come across people insulating their chimneys using tea towels and newspaper in the past – which again as flammable materials are a really bad idea. If you were to forget the chimney balloon was up the chimney when you light the fire, it would simply wilt and fall from the chimney – but it would not cause a fire – hence from a safety point of view, this is why we always advise them!
Chimney cowls are also a great way of ensuring maximum efficiency while also keeping out nesting birds and debris.
Your loft hatch can cause cold draughts to enter the living space of your home, especially if you have a cold loft space (i.e. insulated at joist level rather than rafter level).
Draught-proofing the loft hatch should be done at the same time as insulating the loft space to ensure you gain the maximum savings on your energy bills.
How to draught-proof a loft hatch
First of all: be careful. If you intend to insulate the loft and draught-proof the hatch yourself, it is imperative you take safety seriously. You must take care whenever you work up a ladder and if you feel unsafe or not entirely comfortable undertaking this then please use a certified installer.
There tend to be two types of loft hatch:
The hatch rests on the frame of the loft entrance.
The loft hatch is hinged and will swing down when opened.
To draught-proof the first of these, you can simply put a compression seal or foam strip around the perimeter of the bottom of the loft hatch. When the hatch sits in place, the seal should ensure that all draughts are stopped.
If the loft hatch is hinged, you will need to put either the compression seal or the foam strip on the outside perimeter on the top of loft hatch. You will also need to put an equivalent strip on the inside of the hatch frame so that the two strips meet, creating an airtight barrier to stop the draughts.
Insulating the top of your loft hatch
Once you have insulated your loft space and you have draught-proofed the loft hatch, creating a seal to stop cold air entering the main house and hot air escaping, it is also worth insulating the top of the loft hatch as a final step.
This is fairly simple process; essentially you just need to attach the insulating to the top of the loft hatch. Quite a neat way of doing this is gluing a plastic carrier bag to the top of the loft hatch (covering as much of the loft hatch as you can without going over any of the edges. You can then stuff the bag with insulating wool and tape it closed. Sealing the insulation within the bag prevents fibres coming apart when you open the loft hatch, so you can avoid breathing them in or getting them on your skin.
Older properties tend to have a few visible cracks in their walls. If you have any really significant cracks, we would advise booking an appointment with a building surveyor to ensure the structural integrity of the building
If they are small and don’t pose any structural threat then you can fill them to stop draughts, which will help improve the energy efficiency and thermal comfort of the property. While the amount of heat loss that may occur through these cracks is relatively small compared with that of windows and doors, the ease in which they can be draught-proofed makes them a popular focus.
Cracks can change size, depending on seasonal changes or shifting pressures on the structure. This means they need to be filled using flexible filler products that allow for a certain level of movement – if you just use Polyfilla, the crack will reopen.
If it’s a crack that will stay at a constant width, rigid filler provides a smoother, more professional finish and effectively removes any draught that may have been present previously. Once the crack is filled and the filler has dried, it can be sanded down and painted to match the rest of the wall.
For larger cracks and gaps, foam-based filler products should be used. This foam expands once it is squeezed into the crack, creating an airtight seal. Once the foam has set solid it can be sanded down and painted to match the surrounding area. It is difficult to get the same level of professional finish as with a rigid filler.
Most floors in the UK are either solid (concrete) or suspended (usually timber floorboards). Solid floors don’t really tend to have draught issues associated with them, but suspended timber floors are definitely worth tackling.
The first step is to identify which type of floor you have. You can find out by pulling up the corner of your carpet, or looking for air bricks on the outside of the property at the bottom of the walls – these will signify a suspended timber floor.
Where to look for draughts:
In between floorboards
Around skirting boards
How do I draught-proof floorboards?
The gaps in between stripped floorboards may add up to the size of a small window; therefore draught-proofing your floor is essential and can shed pounds from your energy bill, paying for itself in less than 12 months. With so many products on the market, it is important to select one that will provide you with the best outcome for your specific requirements.
The first thing to assess when considering whether to draught-proof your floorboards is what the required finish is. For example the methods used to draught-proof floorboards under a carpet are different to those used to draught-proof stripped floorboards. It should be noted that even though carpet will help with draught-proofing, it is not 100% effective, and additional measures can still help.
How do I draught-proof stripped floorboards?
There are many products that fill the gaps between the floorboards, helping to prevent draughts. These come in the form of tube-like rolls (such as DraughtEx) that are easily pushed into the spaces between floorboards, assuming that the correct and accurate diameters have previously been taken into account. This is a quick, easy and relatively cheap way of draught-proofing your floorboards effectively. However, difficulties may arise if you have an older floor with uneven gaps between the floorboards that may require you to buy additional rolls of different sizes.
Alternatives to the tube-like rolls, which are pushed into floorboard gaps, are thin V-shaped, one-size-fits-all, plastic lengths that spring apart when pushed into place using a credit card. When in position, this innovative method is invisible and effectively stops draughts. The issue here is that if they pop out they could then potentially trip you up; make sure they are fitted as per the instructions to prevent this from happening.
How do I draught-proof floorboards under a carpet?
A carpet fitted over your floorboards helps reduce draughts; however there are further steps you can take if you are searching for optimal draught-proofing. If you are on a small budget, then the traditional technique of papier-mâché may be the best option. However, while this provides a cheap and effective solution and covers the potentially draughty gaps in between the floorboards, it does take a lot more time than shop-bought fixes. For a more efficient, but costlier method of draught proofing underneath your carpet, you can apply a gunned silicone sealant to the gaps between the floorboards provided the gaps aren’t enormous!
Using thicker underlay below the carpet is also an effective way to stop the draughts and insulate the floorboards.
The most effective way to stop draughts coming up through the floorboards is unfortunately also the most costly and time consuming. This involves lifting up the floorboards and applying insulation between the joists – details of how to do this can be found on our ffloor insulation pages.
How do I draught-proof the skirting board?
Even with successfully draught-proofed floorboards, you may still lose heat through the skirting board area. In order to maximise efficiency you can draught-proof this area using wooden beadings, which can be applied to skirting boards where they meet the floor. The wooden beadings come in a variety of shapes and they help bridge the gap that allows draughts.
Draught-proofing this area may also be achieved through silicone-based gunned sealants that can equally block the gap between the floor and the wall; again you may need to use a combination of both the wooden beadings and the sealant if the gaps between the floor and the skirting board are particularly large.
Not all windows need to be draught-proofed. Double or triple glazed windows installed since 2002 should be sufficiently well-built and installed so as not to require any. Older double glazing and single glazed windows can be draught-proofed, however. If you are unsure on the age of your double glazing, you should check for either a FENSA certificate, which you will have received with any windows installed since 2002, or a stamp in the metal seal of the window.
Where to look for draughts
The gaps between the window and the frame
Caulk on the outside of the window frame
The area around any locks or catches
Although the potential for draughts to occur around the edge of one window is not equal to that of an external door, the accumulated draught from every window in your house can account for huge amounts of energy loss. Therefore it is crucial to draught-proof these areas. In order to complete a successful draught-proofing of a window, you must firstly pinpoint the gaps that require work. After locating the area that requires draught-proofing, there are a few methods to consider.
How can I draught-proof my windows?
How should I draught-proof a window that opens?
Firstly, compression seals provide a professional finish and prevent draughts, as well as dust and moisture entering the home. The seals are sometimes held by metal, plastic or wooden carriers, which are fixed onto the frames through pre-drilled fixing holes. This maintains the ‘memory’ or ‘bounce-back-ability’ of the seal, enabling it to return to its original shape even after periods of crushing, due to normal everyday use of the window. The carrier is cut to length and must be less than 25mm from the cut end to avoid any snagging on unwanted items such as clothing. However they may also be glued to the frame. While these compression seals, as well as the similar tubular seals, provide excellent performance on narrow window gaps, they are not the best option when draught-proofing sash windows on larger properties.
How should I draught-proof a window that doesn’t open?
The best method for draught-proofing a window that does not open is a silicone-based sealant. After the gaps in the framework have been located and cleaned to remove any dust that may reduce the longevity of the draught-proofing method, a gunned silicone sealant can be easily applied. This is a cheap and easy way to DIY draught proof.
How should I draught-proof a sash window?
If you are looking to draught-proof a sash window or if the gaps between the window and its frame are not consistent due to seasonal changes, brush strips may provide the best solution. While mainly used in the draught-proofing of doors, it is not rare to see this method around larger windows. This solution involves brushes or blades fixed into a carrier, which is pinned onto the frame. While they may be painted to reduce their visibility, this does decrease their efficiency. However the brushes or blades may be contained using wooden carriers, which may provide a more aesthetically-pleasing solution to window draughts.
Another method of draught-proofing your window, and common when taking the DIY approach, is low-friction seals in loose strips or carriers. This solution involves the rubbing of wipers or blades, which are fixed onto the frame, against the closing window. While they may also be fixed using an adhesive-based foam strip, this method (although cheap) does not comply with British standards and is therefore not recommended.
Using gunned silicone as a sealant
A DIY-friendly and relatively cheap solution to your window draught-proofing needs is gap-filling seals with gunned silicone sealant. In order to ensure that maximum draught-proofing is achieved, you must cover the part of the window that comes into contact with the frame in a release agent. This prevents the sealant from sticking to the window as opposed to the frame. The window is then shut to provide a temporary mould for the sealant before it sets. While it provides an efficient solution to the draught-proofing issue, if it isn’t carried out correctly, the result may look untidy.
Installing new windows
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Obviously draught proofing external doors should be the priority, since this will stop cold outside air entering the property; but doors that separate cold rooms from warm rooms should also be draught-proofed to prevent the unwanted circulation of air between the two. This maybe the case if you have a spare room that you do not heat during the winter to help save on your energy bills.
How can I draught-proof around the door frame?
The first step is to fit a brush strip to the bottom of the door frame, as this is where the largest gap tends to be between the door and the frame. Most draught excluders are screwed in place, so first you need to measure the length of the bottom of the door. It is important to measure the door when it is closed, as the fixed brush strip may otherwise stop the door shutting. The brush strip then needs to be cut to length using a hacksaw. Once it has been cut to length, screw the brush strip in place, ensuring that the bristles of the brush reach the floor as this is what is going to stop the draughts.
A hinged flap draught excluder may also be used as it works on a similar principle; however instead of brushes this method relies on a flexible strip to prevent draughts.
Around the sides and the top of the door you can use a foam strip or brush strips to minimise draughts. The foam strips tend to come attached with a self-adhesive surface, so prior to fitting them to the door, you need to clean the door surface with soapy water (and let it dry) to ensure the foam strip sticks properly.
The brush strips tend to be a lot smaller than those used at the bottom of the door, so again they tend to come with a self-adhesive surface to stick them to the door, but in some cases you will be required to screw them in place. The pre-drilled holes that attach the brush strips to the door do not hinder the ‘memory’ or ‘bounce-back-ability’ of the seal. This enables it to return to its original shape, even after periods of heavy door usage.
Gunned silicone sealant may also be used in the draught proofing of doors. This is the cheapest solution to draught proofing around the edges and at the top of the door It is absolutely key that a release agent is first applied to areas of the door that you don’t want the sealant to attach too. By applying the releasing agent in the correct places, the closed door can actually be used as a temporary mould for the sealant before it sets.
Installing Cavity Wall Insulation
How can I draught-proof a keyhole?
Draughts may also enter the property via keyholes within doors. These draughts are easily prevented by installing an escutcheon plate (essentially a metal disc that is attached at the top of the key hole). This will swing open allowing you to insert the key and swing shut again to stop draughts.
How can I draught proof letterboxes?
Standard letterboxes produce a surprisingly large draught. We recommend installing something like the Ecoflap letterbox as it is 100% effective, easy to install and is low cost. It is a simple method of draught proofing and completely stops any potential heat loss through the letterbox. You attach the bracket to the inside of the door so it also works as an anti break-in feature.
Installing new doors
Need your doors replaced? We have scoured the country for the best tradespeople, so that we can make sure we only recommend those we really trust.
If you would like us to find you a local installer, just fill in the form below and we will be in touch shortly!
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