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Stop wasting energy; start taking action! This is the section to get you started on energy-saving, whether it's changing your habits or improving your home – save energy and save money!
The better insulated your home is, the less money you'll spend heating it. Find out more about different types of insulation, including draught-proofing, double glazing, and insulation for lofts and walls.
The latest on energy-efficient boilers to save you energy and money, and the right controls to use as little energy as possible, whatever the age of your boiler. No boiler? Find out about controls for electric systems too.
Renewable and low-carbon technologies are good for the environment and good for your pocket too - with government financial incentives, it’s never been a better time to install. Find out more now!
Get inspiration for your own community projects from a range of case studies in PDF and video format; find extensive advice about funding your project; and explore our range of project tools.
Draught-proofing is one of the cheapest and most efficient ways to save energy – and money – in any type of building.
Draughts are a bit like ventilation – both let fresh air into your home. Good ventilation helps reduce condensation and damp. But draughts are uncontrolled: they let in too much cold air and waste too much heat.
To draught-proof your home you should block up unwanted gaps that let cold air in and warm air out. Saving warm air means you’ll use less energy to heat your home, so you'll save money as well as making your home snug and pleasant.
Full draught-proofing will save you on average £55 per year. Draught-free homes are comfortable at lower temperatures – so you’ll be able to turn down your thermostat. This could save you another £65 per year.
If every household in the UK used the best possible draught proofing, every year we would save £180 million, and enough energy to heat nearly 930,000 homes.
Draughts happen where there are unwanted gaps in the construction of your home, and where openings are left uncovered.
You’ll find draughts at any accidental gap in your home that leads outside, such as:
You should block most of these – but be careful in areas that need good ventilation:
If you’re happy carrying out simple DIY tasks, draught-proofing will be no problem. However, some homes, especially older homes with single glazing, will be more difficult to draught-proof – it might be worth asking a professional. Professional draught-proofing is likely to save more energy because the installer will know exactly the right materials to use and where to use them.
There are plenty of DIY stores that sell draught-proofing materials, but look for draught-proofing with the Kitemark – this shows that the product is made to a good standard. British Standard Institution accredited products have a 20-year life if properly installed and maintained.
For windows that open, buy draught-proofing strips to stick around the window frame and fill the gap between the window and the frame. There are two types:
Make sure the strip is the right size to fill the gap in your window. If the strip is too big it will get crushed and you may not be able to close the window. If it's too small there will still be a gap.
For sliding sash windows, foam strips do not work well. It’s best to fit brush strips or consult a professional. For windows that don't open, use a silicon sealant.
Draught-proofing outside doors can save a lot of heat and will only cost you a few pounds. There are four main things to think about:
Inside doors need draught-proofing if they lead to a room you don’t normally heat, such as your spare room or kitchen. Keep those doors closed to stop the cold air from moving into the rest of the house. If there is a gap at the bottom of the door, block it with a draught excluder - you can make one stuffed with used plastic bags or bits of spare material.
Inside doors between two heated rooms don’t need draught-proofing, as you don’t lose energy if warm air circulates.
If you don’t use your fireplace, your chimney is probably a source of unnecessary draughts. There are two main ways to draught-proof a chimney:
Remember to remove the draught-proofing if you decide to light a fire!
You can block cracks using filler that you squirt into the gap. Floorboards and skirting boards often contract, expand or move slightly with everyday use, so you should use a filler that can tolerate movement – these are usually silicon-based. Look for:
Fillers come in different colours, and for indoor and outdoor use. They block gaps permanently so be careful when you apply them and wipe off any excess with a damp cloth before it dries. They may break down over time, but can easily be re-applied.
Check whether you also need to insulate between the skirting board and the floor.
Hot air rises and gets lost into the cold space in your loft or attic, so it’s worth blocking off draughts around your loft hatch. Use strip insulation, as you would on a door.
You can fill small gaps around pipework with silicon fillers, similar to the fillers used for skirting boards and floorboards. Fill larger gaps with expanding polyurethane foam. This is sprayed into the gap, expands as it dries, and sets hard.
Old fan outlets may need to be filled with bricks or concrete blocks and sealed from the inside and outside.
You can fill in cracks using cements or hard setting fillers – but if it’s a large crack, there may be something wrong with your wall. Consult a surveyor or builder to see what caused the crack in the first place.
Air needs to flow in and out of your house so it stays fresh, dry and healthy. Make sure you don’t block or seal any intentional ventilation:
For a list of registered installers whose work is guaranteed for ten years, see the National Insulation Association website.
For products, installers and manufacturers see the Draught Proofing Advisory Association.
Until April 2015, the Landlord’s Energy Saving Allowance lets you claim up to £1,500 against tax for energy-saving improvements you have made to each house or flat you rent out. Find out more at the Directgov website.
You’ll be charged a lower rate of VAT when you have energy-saving work done to your house, both for the materials and equipment, and for the labour. If the house is new, you pay no VAT at all. Find out more at the HMRC website.