How to Reduce Heat Loss in Your Home

Ground source heat pump

Contents:


What is Heat Loss?

A 2020 survey by tado° found that UK homes lose heat significantly faster than other European countries, despite lower outside temperatures. In a study of 80,000 UK homes with an internal temperature of 20° and 0° outside, UK homes lost 3° over 5 hours.  

To understand how to reduce heat loss in your home, it is best to know the primary factors that influence it. This will help to identify the best fit heating solutions for your property, and any issues that could be causing your current heating system to work harder. It will also help you to ready your property if you are looking at investing in a renewable energy solution. For instance, an air source heat pump or solar PV any time soon.

Heat loss is the movement of heat from one material or area to another. It usually happens via one of three ways; conduction, convection, or radiation. The main sources of heat loss in a property are typically through the loft, walls, doors, windows, and floors. Materials used and the insulation of these areas play a crucial role in keeping your home efficiently heated, and scoring well on a heat loss report.

chimney on semi detached house with double glazed windows from Brett Jordan via Unsplash

Keep in Heat with Good Insulation

Insulation of the primary areas where heat tends to escape a dwelling is key. However, there may be some other areas of your home that are creating inefficiencies when it comes to keeping the heat in.


Insulating Walls and Cavity Walls            

Insulating your walls or cavity walls may benefit from the advice of a building professional. If not installed correctly it can cause problems. Damp or black mould is susceptible if there are gaps or the insulation has not been administered properly. The best way to insulate a cavity wall is using insulation materials injected from the outside.

Whether it is a good idea or not to insulate your cavity walls will also depend on whether your property is suitable. Buildings exposed to the wind and rain, timber or steel framed, or prone to damp are risky. It is always best practice to get a professional opinion from a trusted contractor before embarking on any works.


Keep Your Pipes Insulated

Whilst it is unlikely with UK temperatures that your pipes will completely freeze, you can retain a large amount of heat by ensuring your pipes are kept insulated. This will help keep the pipe closer in temperature to the water running through it. Use rubber/foam or fibreglass sleeves to wrap around your pipes, especially in the colder areas of the house they may run through (like a garage). Keeping pipes away from draughty areas can also help to mitigate heat lost through them.


Loft Insulation for Reduced Heat Loss

A lot of heat is lost through our heads – the same can be said for homes. Loft insulation is a good way of trapping heat inside your home to ensure your property stays warmer for longer. It will also help to safeguard your property from colder outside air coming in from above.

Insulate between the joists of your loft using special types of wool. These could include mineral, sheep’s, glass, or even acoustic wool. Acoustic wool will have the added benefit of reducing outside noise. It is an easy way to insulate that requires few DIY abilities. When insulating your loft, be sure to remember to insulate any pipes or tanks stored up there appropriately, as it will make them more vulnerable to the cold if they are not on the right side of the thermal barrier.


Minimise Heat Loss with Floor Insulation

Correct insulation of your ground floor can save you up to £85 in heating costs per year. What you can do to insulate your floors is very dependent on the floor’s foundations and what material it is made of. Also, whether you have a cellar or basement. The costs for floor insulations vary a lot on this matter, but there might be some more cost-effective ways of handling heat loss. For instance, seal gaps between floors and skirting boards using a simple sealant available from DIY stores. If your ground floor setup is a bit more complex, always consult with an expert. It might be more fruitful to handle jobs on a smaller basis focusing on rooms that you can identify are a siphon for heat through the floor.


Building Improvements to Reduce Heat Loss

Generally, the older your building, the less efficient it is when it comes to retaining heat. If your home is built anytime before 2002 it is worth spending a bit of money looking into improvements that could be made to make it more efficient, and less demanding, on your heating system.


Double Glazing/Window Upgrades

A report from GGF found that a 22% heat saving could be achieved in properties that have already been insulated to best practice if pre-2002 windows are replaced. Double or triple glazed windows are particularly effective for reducing heat loss in your home. Particularly if you have larger windows. Between extra glass panes, they have a cavity of dry, still air, acting as insulation. Aside from helping your home retain heat, energy efficient windows also help reduce outside noise being heard, and protect your furniture and soft furnishings from UV damage.


Stopping Door Draughts

The Energy Saving Trust has cited that you could save up to £45 per year by draught-proofing your windows and doors. There are a couple of things to consider when it comes to making sure your doors are equipped for keeping out drafts:

  • Draft-proofing is not just effective for doors to the outside. Proofing doors inside help you to keep control of heat loss from room to room. For instance, heat transfers from warmer rooms to colder, like the kitchen or a pantry
  • Drafts can also come in through doors via the small features, like keyholes and letterboxes. Fortunately, flaps or brushes are available to purchase to reduce this
  • Gaps at the bottom of doors. Probably the main culprit for heat loss from drafty doors. Runners or wiper brushes can be effective for stopping unwanted air leaking into your home. A draught excluder cushion or snake is also a good solution if you are not equipped for the home DIY of installing a brush or runner


Reduce Heat Loss via Your Chimney

Around 60% of UK homes built between now and 1960 have open fireplaces. A chimney is designed to funnel air out of the home – whether there is a fire lit or not. How much heat is lost through your chimney is dependent on a multitude of things. The height of your building, the difference in internal and external temperature, and the design of the chimney.

One of the most cost effective ways you can prevent heat loss through your chimney is with a draught excluder. It can be fitted inside the chimney or somewhere surrounding the fireplace. The draught excluder should stop warm air being lost through the chimney, and prevent colder draughts coming down.

A chimney cap is a slightly more expensive option, because of installation contractor costs and the price of the cap. However, it should provide better insulation for your chimney. Caps help to reduce how much moisture gets in, too.

Chimney photo by Alex Simpson from Unsplash

Quick Ways to Minimise Heat Loss in Your Home

Taking control of heat loss in your home does not always mean you have to get a contractor in for big jobs. There are a few simple ways that you can improve heat retention in the building yourself:


Home Décor

Many do not realise that the placement of your household furniture and furnishings used in your home can play a beneficial role in keeping heat in your home.


Thermal Curtains

Thermal curtains are a fantastic way of helping to keep your heat in during the Winter. They aid your windows in the effort to reduce the volume of heat lost through them by acting as an extra layer of insulation. Thermal curtains not only help with keeping the heat in during Winter. In the Summer months they help to keep your home cool, too. Thermal curtains are usually made of polyester or acrylic. To be the most effective they should touch the floor to help keep out drafts.


Furniture & Placement

The material choice of large items of furniture is important to consider, as some materials do not keep the heat in as well as others i.e. leather. However, if you do own a leather sofa (for example), covering it in decorative blankets or cushions can help.

Large items of furniture, like sofas, beds, wardrobes, etc. must be placed away from heating sources in the room. Putting them in front of radiators often means heat being pumped into the room is just being absorbed by the item. Keep radiators clear to ensure that the warm air can circulate better around the room.

Flooring is a crucial consideration when looking at how much heat is retained in your rooms. Hard surface floors like tile or laminate will keep hold of heat less effectively than a carpet. Placing rugs or carpets as furnishings in these rooms can help to boost how much heat is lost through floor absorption. An underfloor heating system is a great way to help heat rooms with tile or laminated flooring.


Monitor Your Heat Usage

Monitoring your heat usage is an easy way for you to keep track on how much heat your home, apartment or plot is using. Smart meters are a great way of keeping an eye on daily energy use, and how much you are spending on it. Many come with a display system that you can prop up within your home. Some smart meters will also automatically send your monthly electric readings to your supplier, allowing for more accurate billing.

Putting your heating system on a timer that will ensure you come home, or wake up to, a warm house is an efficient way to keep the reigns on the heating. It will also help you to save on heating costs when you are not in.


Bleed Radiators

An easy item on this list that you can do yourself at home. Have you noticed that your radiator is not heating properly, or is colder at the top but warm at the bottom? It might be the case they need to be bled. Bleeding your system will allow the hot water that runs through the radiator to circulate better. It will remove air pockets that prevent the hot water circulating efficiently that, in turn, puts less effort on your boiler and will save you money.


Tips for Bleeding Radiators

  • Always make sure you have turned your heating off and that the radiators are cold before bleeding to avoid scalding
  • Before turning the heating off, make sure that you have isolated which radiators in your home need bleeding
  • Does more than one need bleeding? Start with the one furthest in distance from your boiler
  • If you are in a multi-level residence, begin by bleeding the radiators downstairs, before proceeding upstairs
cushions on a sofa in front of a radiator by Sven Brandsma via Unsplash

Why is Reducing Heat Loss Important?

Keeping an eye on how much heat your home is losing is important. It can save your hundreds of pounds per year in the long term. Efficiently proofing your home will mean less demands are made of your heating, helping to reduce energy bills.

In addition, having a low heat loss score on your property will also aid in applications for Government-funded green energy grants, such as Ofcom’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS). The scheme awards up to £7,500 for homes or small business dwellings looking to change over from an existing fossil fuel-based solution, to a renewable system. This is provided the property meets the BUS property requirements.

At VIA Energy, we are committed to helping our neighbours in the North Devon area reduce their heating costs and improve their carbon footprint through renewable heating solutions. We provide a thorough consultation and heat loss report for your property. We also manage your grant process from start to finish.

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