Draught proofing your home is a relatively quick and easy way to reduce heat loss and cut heating bills. In a typical house it is suggested draughts can account for 10% of total heat loss, much more if there is an unused fireplace (Source: YouGen).
Draughts occur where there are unwanted gaps in the construction of your home, and where openings, holes, slits or cracks are left unsealed. Draughts are different from ventilation because they are uncontrolled and uncontrollable.
Airtightness and draughts
New homes are required to meet minimum airtightness standards (Part L of the Building Regulations – Conservation of Fuel and Power) the standard is poor and often not met. In fact homes that go further to meet the International PassivHaus standard are so airtight and energy efficient that they use mechanical ventilation and heat recovery to add fresh air from outside without losing heat. But older houses, and even a lot of new ones, can still be very draughty.
DraughtBusters and draught proofing
The DraughtBuster site sets out steps you can take to reduce draughts and improve the airtightness of your home. Most of these are things that you can do yourself if you are a reasonably confident DiYer. But we also cover some measures that you might want to get a builder or home energy specialist to do, perhaps alongside other planned work (e.g. upgrading your heating system, refurbishing your kitchen or bathroom, or building an extension).
Importance of ventilation
Before you rush off to seal your home like a vacuum packed kipper, it is worth stressing that all homes need to be ventilated. Controlled ventilation helps ensure that the air in your home stays fresh and that humidity doesn’t rise to a level where it becomes a problem. There are also some parts of your home where ventilation is important to the health of the building, for example the void under the suspended timber ground floors. We’ll try and flag these sorts of considerations wherever they come up in the text.
Protecting against damp and condensation
One of the arguments that is often given for not bothering to draught proof is that it increases the likelihood of damp and condensation. There is some truth in this myth, but it is a good example of confusing draughts and controlled ventilation. To help, we’ve included a couple of pages first of all on the typical causes of damp and condensation in buildings and then some simple measures you can take to help reduce the levels of condensation that could occur in our homes as we go about our normal lives.
If you want to delve a bit further in to airtightness and ventilation in buildings, here are a few interesting links and articles:
- YouGen – Introduction to draughts and ventilation
- GOV.UK – Conservation of fuel and power: Approved Document L
- NHBC Information Sheet on Air Leakage Testing
- UKCMB report on health and moisture in buildings
A cautionary note, if you don’t have any condensation problems it could be that your house is very draughty