Whilst we’re all waiting for a return to something approaching ‘normality’, and the launch of our Homes and Energy project in a couple of months, there will still be issues of cold homes, high heating bills, draughty doors & windows and mould growth this winter.
Here’s a quick list of simple maintenance checks and remedial actions you can take to help improve your home’s comfort and performance this winter.
Make sure your gutters are clear of leaves. Leaf litter can cause gutters to overflow directly onto walls, which in turn can damage the building fabric leading to damp or frost penetration.
If you notice mould growth around windows or corners of rooms, first of all try to clean this off, and then make sure the room is properly ventilated (this doesn’t mean opening the windows, but it does mean making sure extractor fans are working and clear in bathrooms and kitchens). There is usually an underlying cause of mould growth, but improving controlled ventilation often helps get it under control. Consider signing up for one of our free home thermal images (see below for more details).
Closing your curtains can significantly decrease heat loss from rooms – so even if a room isn’t occupied, try to get into a habit of closing curtains and blinds after dark. Closing curtains have the same impact on single-glazed windows as upgrading to double-glazing!
If you have a chimney in your house that’s not in use, consider buying a chimney draught excluder to close it off and reduce the huge amount of heat loss it can account for (chimneys are great at drawing away air, that’s their job!). You can also use one of these if you have a fireplace that you do occasionally use, just make sure to REMOVE IT before lighting the fire! Try The Chimney Sheep, based in the Lake District, www.chimneysheep.co.uk
There are many, many sources of heat loss due to air moving from inside to outside your home (controlled and uncontrolled ventilation and air infiltration through building fabric). The bigger the hole, the greater the heat loss and the higher your heating bill becomes. If you can see through to the outside (say a gap alongside your front door, a soil-pipe not correctly sealed through a wall, a loose loft-hatch cover), make an effort to fix it. This could be as simple as using a draught excluder by your front door.
And lastly, you can reduce the impact of your home’s heating and energy consumption by switching energy provider to one that uses renewables sources. This is very easy to do, and can also save you money. Go to www.bigcleanswitch.org to check if you’d be better off switching.
In January we will be running a pilot programme to create thermal images of homes in Watlington Parish. A limited number will be offered free of charge (funded by Watlington Parish Council). You can sign-up to receive a thermal image of the front of your home, with a covering email on how to interpret that image, and what steps you might therefore consider taking to improve the performance and comfort of your home. To find out more about the thermal imaging project, and to request one of our 50 funded thermal images, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.