With energy prices only going up this year, learning how to practically insulate your home for less is more important than ever. Not everyone can simply build a sustainably insulated home from scratch, so we’ve compiled a list of 7 things you can do to stay warm this winter without tearing down the entire structure!

Amidst the global climate crisis, we should all be thinking of small ways to lessen our carbon footprint. This doesn’t mean that you should build an elaborate sustainable home to showcase on Grand Designs - but taking little, actionable steps to help both our homes and the environment is a win-win for all.

Insulation is especially pressing and challenging for old Victorian homes. These are often constructed in conservation areas, making it difficult to make external changes, even if your budget allows it. There are also lots of gaps and cracks in old Victorian homes - insulating them and improving their airtightness is key. In fact, most of the work you’ll be doing is correcting mistakes made by the original builders or previous owners!
 
With that in mind, read on for 7 workable and efficient ways to insulate your home, ready for the colder months to come. We’ve split it up into 4 quicker fixes, and 3 more permanent and intrusive solutions towards the bottom of this list.


insulation


1. Block Your Chimney
 
If you are not planning on using your chimney this winter, an easy way to block out those cold draughts is to stuff it. You can find draught excluders for this, which is a cost-effective, malleable rubber foam that covers and insulates. You can also find things called ‘Chimney Sheep’, which are removable draught excluders made from breathable Herdwick wool. Check out Chimney Sheep here.
 
Alternatively, you can create a waterproof pillow or an inflatable chimney balloon. These can be blown up to fit your chimney’s dimensions to block out the cold. Chimney Balloon makes adjustable draught excluder balloons that come in a variety of sizes. Just remember to take out anything before you start a fire!


Chimney balloon insulation
(Left) Photo Courtesy of Chimney Balloon. Copyright Chimney Balloon. (Right) Photo Courtesy of Chimney Sheep. Copyright Chimney Sheep.
Block your chimney with a draught excluder


2. Use Dense Drapes
 
Curtains made from heavier fabrics such as velvet or silk not only look fabulous but also do wonders for reducing heat loss through your windows. You can also get cotton or linen curtains with interlining and double-width headers to elongate your ceilings while you’re at it.
 
You can easily find loads of sustainable fabric options from a quick Google search- The Millshop Online provides beautiful drapes made from 100% bamboo right here in the UK.


Dense drapes in bedroom
Photo Courtesy of The Millshop Online. Copyright The Millshop Online.
Choose from a selection of sustainable textiles made from bamboo to create drapes for your windows.
 
 
3. Exposed Floor Boards
 
Did you know that each room on the ground floor of a Victorian house effectively contains an open window about 50cm square leading straight onto the unheated cellar below? Exposed floorboards like these are especially common in old Victorian houses. They are suspended around 20-30cm from the ground and provide pretty much no insulation. If you want to take on a more time-consuming project, filling this gap between the ground and the floorboards can work wonders.
 
Soft insulation such as wool works well here, but do see about filling the gaps with rubber tubing, if you are looking for an easier, less tedious solution. You can get this from DraughtEx, which provides easy and versatile rubber tubing in the UK.


Timber Floor with gaps
Rubber tubing to fill the gaps between the floorboards in a victorian home to stop cold draughts.
 
 
4. Draughty Doors
 
Poor construction of doors and uninsulated letterboxes can lead to precious heat energy escaping, leaving your household cold and uncomfortable during the wintertime. A cheap and pretty solution is to purchase a door snake- these come in all shapes and sizes, and you can get them from a load of different home decor shops, or off Etsy. You can also easily DIY one yourself out of recycled materials found at home. Check out EcoMatters for a tutorial. (Gorgeous Door Snake designs by RavenAllyHomewares on Etsy, made here in the UK.)

To insulate windows and letterboxes on doors, why not try some insulating film to trap the heat within. Check out AppliedProducts to learn more about the benefits of insulating film, and get your hands on some too. If the area still feels chilly, you may want to consider a thick door curtain for a snug-looking entryway.


Door snake cushion textiles
Photo Courtesy of RavenAllyHomewares. Copyright RavenAllyHomewares.
Handmade door snake design.
 

The next 3 ideas are considered more intrusive and expensive insulation options. There’s still plenty of wiggle room here to adapt and improvise- do what suits your budget and your home.
 
5. Using Double or Triple Glazing
 
Original sash windows are usually singe-glazed or use an outdated form of double glazing. A bigger project to consider undertaking is replacing these with modern double or triple glazed windows. This allows for a better installation, and the use of glass which reduces radiation. Replacing the windows also elevates the formality and uniformity of the home, a perfect addition to your spring cleaning list for this year.
 
If you live in a period property and taking out and replacing your windows is simply not an option, using secondary glazing methods is just as effective. This is done by placing another layer of glass in front of your existing windows - it acts just like a double-glazed window without the trouble of starting from scratch. Alternatively, you can choose to upgrade the glazing in your existing windows and keep your window frames (with some reparation and improvement works). Andrew Jaynes provides bespoke, energy-efficient options for a glazing upgrade. Contact them here for a quote on your windows!


Double glazing insulation
Photo Courtesy of Andrew Jaynes. Copyright Andrew Jaynes.
Upgrade your single glazed windows with high-performance Fineo glazing.
 
 
6. Loft Insulation
 
25% of your home’s heat may escape through your loft if it isn’t insulated properly. There are plenty of sustainable materials potentially at your disposal such as wool, hemp, cork, and the list goes on. You’ll be amazed at the difference insulating your loft makes when winter rolls around. If you still need persuading on the benefits of natural fibre insulation, check out our previous blog here.


7. Dry Lining Walls
 
If insulation is fitted incorrectly, this can lead to more issues, such as mould and draughts. Dry lining walls are there to add an extra layer of insulation to the internal surface of your walls and ceilings. If you’re considering stripping your rooms down to the bare brick, this is certainly something to invest in (especially because up to 35% of your house’s heat is lost through the walls). This can be done by fixing wood to the walls, fitting insulation to the battens, and using plasterboard to secure it.
 
Stanmore provides sustainable dry lining in the UK, made from quality and long-lasting materials.
 
With all that said, make sure you’re keeping a healthy eye on your thermostat. Many central heating systems can be controlled from your phone these days, helping you keep your usage in check.

If insulation is fitted incorrectly, this can cause more issues than it can solve. If you’re looking to undertake large insulation projects, it is wise to consult a professional. This list aims to give you practical insulation methods that can be achieved quickly and easily at home, however, larger projects should be taken on with proper planning and supervision.

Feel free to share this article with friends, and share your thoughts and queries below. Happy insulating!
 
 

Author:

Verity Smith, BA History

Verity Smith IGOLO One stop shop for sustainable home renovation & designVerity is a lifestyle writer aiming to help people find actionable steps to sustainable change. She spends a lot of her time researching and keeping in the loop with new eco-materials and methods that will change the home design industry (and the world) for the better. You'll most often find her with her nose in a book.
May 02, 2022

Comments

Anna Collins said:

Thank you for the advice when you said to insulate our loft since this helps prevent 25% of the heat in your home from escaping once winter comes. Since fall has arrived, I plan to have my home renovated soon to prepare for the upcoming cold months since we’ll be using our heating system often. I’ll be sure to take note of this while I look for a contractor to hire for our residential insulation soon. http://www.cosyinsulation.com.au/services

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