Low-tech ways to keep your home warm

Installing double glazing, cavity wall insulation and a new boiler isn’t cheap. But how can you keep your house warm this winter without breaking the bank? Here are some ideas:

1. Use tin foil. One way to prevent unnecessary heat loss from radiators, particularly on those attached to external walls, is to use heat reflective aluminium foil behind the radiator. This prevents heat disappearing through the wall by reflecting it back into the room. Foil specially designed for the purpose can be bought for under £10. If you’re really short of cash, kitchen foil can be used.

2. Thick curtains are one of the main ways to protect your house from losing heat through the windows. Curtains with a thermal lining are a relatively cheap option. And it’s not just windows that can have curtains. Placing a curtain in front of outside doors adds another layer of protection.

3. Let the sunlight in during the day. It’s important to try to use as much natural – and free – heat (in the form of sunlight) as possible. Window shades and curtains should be kept open during the day. Closing your curtains as soon as dusk falls will maximise heat retention.

4. If you can’t afford double glazing, why not fake it with a special film that you can put across single-glazed windows. Attach the film to the window frame using double-sided tape and then fix it using a hairdryer, she says. A pack to cover a medium-sized house costs about £15. Alternatively, use self-adhesive foam strips to seal gaps in the edges of windows. Metal or plastic strips with brushes or wipers attached cost a bit more but will last longer as a result.

5. A lot of heat can be lost through an open fireplace. Stop heat being going up unused chimneys via a special chimney balloon. The balloon, costing about £20, is placed inside the chimney, just out of sight. It’s then inflated until it completely shuts out any incoming cold air or escaping heat.

6. Draughts enter through the letterbox, so put an extra barrier up in the form a “brush”. The same goes for keyholes, which can be protected with simple circular keyhole cover. Cat or dog flaps can be filled with some sheep’s wool insulation or pieces of blanket. Even a small draught can make a room a lot colder.

7. In the past it wasn’t unusual to have a ‘sausage dog’ draught excluder across the bottom of doors, stopping heat escaping through the gap between door and floor. These can be made from an old pair of tights stuffed with socks. More gifted crafters can make them look real dachshunds!

8. Avoid placing large pieces of furniture in front of radiators – they absorb heat and chill the room.

9. Putting a shelf above the radiator, especially if you have high ceilings, can help channel the warmth. Don’t put clothes or towels on radiators to dry, or close full length curtains in front of them.

10. Shut up unused rooms – keeping doors closed will prevent cold air moving into the rest of the house and contain the heat you’ve generated in a smaller area.

11. Floors account for as much as 10% of heat loss if they’re not insulated, so put down large rugs on your wooden or laminate floor.

12. DIY loft insulation is cheap, and three rolls of 8in deep foam should be enough to give most lofts an important layer of protection. Remember to leave sufficient gaps around the eaves to avoid condensation.

13. Set timers on heaters for a short time before you arrive home. It’s a myth that keeping them on all day is better.

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