Insulating Your Home
Windows, doors, walls, fireplaces, letterboxes, floors and above all the roofs of old houses are all potential heat losers, and money spent on insulation will certainly be saved on fuel bills. Do not however, make a house so draughtproof that no air can get in or out because rooms will only get muggy fires will not draw properly the boiler or furnace (if any) will do less than its best (and become dangerous), and doors will not close. If you are going to the trouble of insulating internal walls, you may want to insulate for sound as well.
Double glazing, or the addition of storm windows, is not cheap, but it can make an enormous difference to heat loss. It is best installed in a house that is anyway undergoing extensive renovation, since existing windows may have to be removed — a process that will inevitably cause a mess. Another consideration is that the installation of double glazing may add to the value of your house. Remember, however, that you may have to seek permission from the relevant authority before going ahead.
Gaps under doors can be cured by fixing a draughtproofing strip bought from astore. For outside doors, some manufacturers make bronze strips that are relatively unaffected by rain or damp and are guaranteed to last 10 years. Threshold fittings where one part is fixed to the floor and the other to the bottom so that the two parts are pressed against each other when the door is closed are very efficient, as are the ones that consist of a drop-flap made of rubber or vinyl, which is forced down against the floor when the door is closed to make a draughtproof seal. Small closed porches added to outside doors can make a difference to heat loss.
Roofs are fairly easy to insulate. If you have a sloping one and use the space only if at all for storage, insulate the floor area with some loose-fill material like vermiculite granules poured between the joists and levelled off. If the area is draughty enough for the granules to be blown around, it would be best to use glassfibre blankets. If you intend to convert the space into an attic room, insulate the sloping rafters with fibreboard or with plasterboard (drywall) or wallboard with glassfibre, blankets underneath
Always get throat controls fitted to fireplaces — otherwise you will be heating the outside air through the chimney to nobody’s benefit except that of the fuel company!
Letterboxes and Pet Doors
These can be protected from howling gales and snow storms by a variety of flaps made of bronze, brass, stainless steel or other metal. Alternatively, you can tack a piece of leather or heavy fabric above a letterbox on the inside. Pet doors can be sealed shut at night.
Ground-level wood floors can be draughty because of the air flow coming through the air bricks in the house walls. Ventilation is vital to prevent the wood rotting so never block air bricks. Any good floor covering, especially carpet, will eliminate. Before laying the material, seal gaps; lay (masonite), or underlay — depending on chosen floor covering — and seal gaps below skirtings (baseboards) with beading,
Cavity walls can be filled with blown glassfibre or other mineral fibre injected by a specialist company. Solid brick walls can be lined with plasterboard (drywall) fixed onto a wood framework with a glassfibre blanket sandwiched in between.