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Where am I losing heat in my home

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Update time : 2019-01-17 17:48:12
Where am I losing heat in my home?
January 7, 2016


The Thermal Envelope
 
Give or take, about 25% of the heat produced by your boiler will escape through the roof of your home.
 
About 35% of the heat will escape through the walls and through gaps, in and around windows and doors, and about 10% of heat will disappear through the floor.
 
Collectively the roof, walls (+ windows and doors) and the floor are known as the thermal envelope.
 
If you can slow this movement of heat from inside the house, through the thermal envelope, to the external environment, you can dramatically reduce your energy bills.
In modern houses, building regulations stipulate that homes have to be built to do just that – but how exactly do you go about retrofitting these solutions into older homes?

 
Stop heat leaving through the roof
 
Install loft insulation in the roof space. This is the no.1 best thing to do for energy efficiency in the home – it is really cheap, easy to do and the payback can be just two years or less.
You will need to decide if you want a warm loft or a cool loft, and what exactly you want to do with the loft space (for example do you want to store boxes up there or be able to walk around?)
In addition you need to decide the insulating product you want to use – mineral wool, sheep wool, rigid insulating board or even newspaper. There are lots of options for you to consider.

 
Stop heat leaving through the walls
 
Walls tend to come in two forms – solid walls and cavity walls.
As a rule of thumb, properties built prior to 1930 will have solid walls and anything built after will have cavity walls.

  
Cavity walls are incredibly easy to insulate; the walls are simply injected with insulating  material, which slows the movement of heat across it. This is cheap and well worth  doing, again with a relatively quick payback – however a professional will need to install  this for you.
 If you have solid walls, things are more complicated – there is no cavity that can be  filled, so the walls need to be insulated either externally or internally. This is costly to  do, and externally it involves cladding (so you will lose the feel of the brick). Meanwhile  if you opt for insulation internally, you will lose some floor space. There is a grant  available to help cover some of the costs of getting solid walls insulated – it is called  ECO.
 Insulating your walls is well worth doing since it accounts for the biggest source of heat  loss – click on the hyperlinks within the sections above to learn more about the  processes involved.
 

Windows – important, but not as influential as you may think!

People want to replace them with double glazing to help stop heat loss and keep the home warmer.
There are two issues to consider here – firstly think of the area of glazing in your home compared to the area of actual wall. Normally there is substantially more wall area than glazing, so always target the walls first. Secondly, double glazing is expensive – to replace a wooden sash window with a wooden double glazed unit may cost you £1200 PER WINDOW!
So what is the energy saving from changing one single glazed window to double-glazed?
Perhaps £5 – £10 per year
That is not to say it is not worth doing, double-glazing will improve the comfort of the home by stopping heat loss, cold draughts and improve soundproofing. However, from a cost perspective you may want to consider other measures first. Secondary glazing is a simple and easy alternative; companies like Ecoease make bespoke secondary glazing at a fraction of the price of traditional double glazing

 
Draught proofing – cheap, cheerful and quick payback

 Draught proofing is often overlooked, but think about an open chimney in your home. Cold air will  rush in and the expensive warm air that your radiators have created can simply rise up and out of  the chimney. If you draught proof the home effectively this can be prevented.
 Draught proofing can be installed around doors, windows, loft hatches, floorboards – in fact in all  sorts of places.

 
How to stop heat leaving through the floor
 
 Standing on a cold, draughty floor is miserable, but you can do something about it! Insulating floors  will stop heat escaping but if you are looking something a little bit more, you can install underfloor  heating in conjunction with a traditional boiler, or better still a heat pump. This will allow you to heat the home and do away with radiators forever! Insulating floors is a relatively simple process and like walls, there are two main types – solid floors and suspended timber.
 
Quick mention of U-values
 
When exploring energy efficiency in the home – you may encounter the term U-value. It is not one to be scared off, it actually simply refers to heat loss.

The lower the U-value the better, so an unfilled cavity wall might have a U-value of 2.0 W/m2k, while filling the cavity might take the u-value down to 0.2 W/m2k.
 
You’ve done all that – what next?
 
So now you have insulated the home, less heat is going to escape – or at least the rate at which it escapes into the external environment will have slowed.
Now it is time to consider the heating system. The more efficient the heating system, the less it will cost to run your house.

 
When to upgrade your heating system
 

Most people in the UK have a mains gas boiler – but just how efficient is it?
A new energy efficient condensing boiler should be 90% + efficient.
This means it will convert 1 unit of gas into 0.9 units of useful heat. A boiler 10 years old or more might be just 65% efficient – so depending on your energy usage it may be worth installing a new one.
Other more efficient heating solutions include air and ground source heat pumps, and with these you will soon be able to benefit from the generous Renewable Heat Incentive scheme (RHI), which will provide you with a payment for every unit of hot water you produce.


You might like to consider Biomass boilers, these run on sustainable biomass pellets, so are ‘carbon neutral’. Installing a biomass boiler will also allow you to take advantage of the RHI.

Infrared heating are another great way to heat your home.
These panels emit infrared (like the sun – don’t confuse with harmful UV!) to heat spaces.
These are more efficient than traditional convection heating systems (radiators) since they don’t use air as the medium for heat transfer.
Instead the infrared will travel until it hits a solid body and then warm that directly.
The panels warm up quicker and as soon as they are up to temperature you feel the warmth, compare that to a radiator and how un-reactive that is!
If you only have access to electricity (no mains gas), these infrared panels are definitely worth considering.
 

So there you have it  – our whistle-stop tour of how to limit the amount of heat leaving your home, become more energy efficient, save money on bills and do your bit for the environment. Seems a bit of a no-brainer to us!
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