Do you know the top places your home wastes energy? It could make a huge difference in your heating bills!
By Nick Miles
Miserable winters are going on and on and on in most of northern America and Europe. This is a complete drag, not only because we are being denied good times on pub patios and the use of our springtime wardrobes, but also because we’re paying a lot more to heat our homes.
This is especially true today, with the cost of gas and electricity ever-rising.
While there isn’t much we can do to change the weather, or even to convince energy companies to lower their tariffs, there is quite a lot we can do to ensure we pay as little as possible for heating and electricity.
When you learn the places your home wastes energy, you’re well on your way to saving money on your bills. And, saving energy too, of course!
Older houses are notorious for not being built to trap in heat, but even cheaper modern builds are guilty.
But never fear – with a bit of creativity, investment and knowledge, problems can be solved.
Here are the top 10 places your home wastes energy, and how to fix them.
The Most Important Ways Your Home Wastes Energy
1. Naked roofs
You should insulate your roof for the same reason you’d wear a hat in winter: a home loses a lot of heat through the top. Heat rises, and if it is not trapped by insulation, it literally disappears into the sky. Most homes do have some insulation in the roof, but what kind makes a big difference. Older European houses may still have horse hair up there, while more efficient new homes will have eco-foam padding the roof.
The solution: Consult an insulation specialist to see the best way to trap heat in your house
In listed properties and 18th and 19th century homes, windows tend to be of grand design. However, they’re not very good for keeping out the effects of those howling winds unless they are properly sealed. Even new double glazed windows installed in the 70’s and 80’s tend to condense after a few years of use, which means replacements shouldn’t be out of consideration.
The solution: Luckily, there are plenty of solutions for draughty windows. New forms of double glazing would be an efficient, but costly, option. Heavy curtains can help. But an even better solution could be shutters. Unlike curtains, these look fabulous for all seasons, and they offer strong, medium or no light to come into the room, depending on your needs.
3. Timber or ceramic floors
Porous timber floors look great but allow cold draughts, which very often means that no matter how much you heat your living area, it will still feel cold and uncomfortable. Ceramic tile floors are even worse! They don’t heat up easily at all, and make the room feel colder.
The solution: You could, of course, replace your ceramic tile floors with wood, which is warmer. And if you have wood floors, you could lift up the boards and add an insulating foam layer beneath them. If that’s too costly, buying some thick carpeting is the best solution.
Any door exposed to the outside or an unheated corridor or room will be the first place your will lose energy. Unless the door is draught-proofed, any heat in your home will escape very quickly. In France, thick velvet curtains are often put behind draughty doors, lending an air of grandeur and keeping the cold out. But there are more practical solutions, too.
The solution: Ensure your front door has a rubber flap at the bottom to stop draughts. You can also purchase draught-stopping
Not an obvious candidate for one of the places your home wastes energy, but many older doors that have a cylindrical shaft also tend to let in a lot of cold air. Keyholes may look quaint, but they seriously leak warmth from your home. On a windy day you may even hear the howling wind as the sound travels through the keyhole. Not only unpleasant, but also a bit scary!
The solution: Change locks to modern day ones whenever possible.
Today, most chimneys in urban homes are for decorative purposes, or they house a gas furnace that is hardly ever turned on. In fact, most cities don’t allow homes to light fireplaces, due to the increased pollution they cause. If your chimney was never draught-proofed, it may explain why your living room feels so cold in the winter. Chimneys allow quite a lot of cold air into a room. If you have one, this is probably one of the worst places your home wastes energy.
The solution: Buy a chimney balloon. These easily fit up the flue, and block cold air from entering your house. And if you have a working fireplace, it can be removed for when you want to light it.
If you have grand chandeliers in the hallway, it is quite likely you are still using incandescent light bulbs and consuming quite a bit of energy every time you flick the lights on. Inefficient lighting wastes heat and racks up high electricity bills.
The solution: Change all your bulbs for energy-efficient ones, which emit more warmth, too.
8. Old heating systems
If your boiler is over 10 years old, you are not doing yourself any favours. Did you know that it’s these old types of boilers than can potentially waste 30 – 50% more energy than new condensing alternatives? It’s one of those places your home wastes energy that few think about.
The solution: What are you waiting for? Modernise that boiler! It may cost a lot right now, but it will save you money in the long run.
9. Lack of a thermostat
Having a temperature of between 18- 21C in hallways is considered ideal. But if you don’t have a good thermostat then you don’t know if you’re going wrong. It’s surprising how many homes – especially those in Europe – don’t have thermostats! And even if they do, often they’re really outdated.
The solution: We recommend the Nest thermostat. The best in the business, it can be controlled via smartphone, which means you can turn the thermostat on and off, even if you’re not at home. Oh, and it’s super-stylish too.
10. Thin walls
Most European are 50 years or older, and many have thin plaster walls. This means they’re quite poor at trapping heat and can cost quite a bit of money in heating bills.
The solution: Make sure your walls are well insulated. Wool insulation is our top eco-friendly pick.
Do you know of any other places your home wastes energy? Let us know in the comments, below!
All images except the infographic by Shutterly Fabulous