Windows, Doors and Draughts: Saving Energy At Home
One of the easiest ways for heat to escape from your home is through glass, or holes in the walls. Glass conducts heat very well, so windows leak a lot of heat from your home. Cracks around windows and doors, or through unprofessional fittings and fixtures also waste a lot of energy, creating nasty draughts.
By making sure that as little heat as possible escapes through windows, doors and holes, you will save energy. This means lower heating bills and less greenhouse gas emissions.
Windows and Glazing
The most effective form of energy efficient glazing is triple-glazing with low-emissivity glass (Low-E). Triple-glazing uses three separate sheets of glass, each with an air gap in between. These air gaps help to prevent heat from escaping through the window. They also drastically reduce the amount of noise transmitted through the glass, making them particularly good for those living in a noisy area.
Low-emissivity glass allows the sun's rays to pass through the glass, warming the room inside. But, it also prevents heat from escaping from the room.
Double-glazing is the most popular form of energy efficient glazing. It works on the same principle as triple-glazing, but only has two sheets of glass instead of three. It is cheaper, and more widely available than double-glazing.
Windows built with either double, or triple, glazing are also much stronger than single-pane windows. A standard single pane window will shatter very easily if struck, often into long, sharp pieces. Double or triple-glazed windows are much harder to break, increasing the security of your home, and making it safer (especially for young children).
Double, or triple, glazed windows can be made with a variety of materials, such as traditional wooden frames or uPVC. The most environmentally friendly choice is arguably wooden frames sourced from a local, sustainable forest, or re-claimed timber from a local source.
Doors and Entrance Systems
If your home has a door that houses a significant amount of glass, the same principles may apply to that door as apply to windows (see above), as you effectively have a window in your door.
Wooden or plastic doors are often very effective at keeping heat inside the house. Generally speaking, the thicker the door, the better it will insulate. The exception to this is if the door does not seal around its edges when it is closed. Solid foam or plastic seals are usually placed around the edges of doors to ensure a snug fit with the doorframe when the door closes.
It is also important that the door fits the frame as well as possible. Wooden doors can swell in warm, humid weather, and contract in cooler, drier weather, so this must also be taken into account to prevent gaps appearing around the door edges. Draught excluders can be installed on the bottom edge of a door to prevent heat loss.
Letterboxes must also be designed so as to not allow heat to escape when it is closed. A solid, well-fitting, self-closing flap should be fitted both on the outside and the inside of the door. Brush-like draught excluders, which yield to mail being pushed through the letterbox, can be fitted inside the letterbox to prevent heat from escaping.
Draughts and Leaks
Checking your home for holes that may create a draught could be very worthwhile in limiting your heat loss. Windows, doors, fireplaces, letterboxes, airbricks, electricity outlets, skirting boards, and radiator and pipe fixtures should all be checked for cracks, holes and airflow. Moistening your fingertip and placing it near the area you are checking should help you locate the cause of draughts. Your fingertip will feel cold on one side if air is flowing through the gap.
Fixing these leaks, by plugging each hole or crack with a suitable material, can be a very cheap way to improve the energy efficiency of your home, helping you to reduce your fuel bills and your impact on the environment.