With October underway and with it a chill in the air, winter is not far behind. As well as thoughts of open fires and warm blankets, thoughts should turn to the efficiency of our homes and workplaces. A well-insulated property with repointing will be warmer, drier, cozier, cheaper to heat and of course, kinder on the environment. We’ve noticed a huge change in our customer’s requirements in the last year or so. Before, people would insulate purely to save hard-earned cash or to fix a cold, draughty room. Now though people are rightly aware of their own (and home’s) carbon footprint. We say no to plastic bags and bottles where we can whereas a few years ago people wouldn’t think twice about it. Now, this new thinking has made its way into our everyday lives and our homes. The saved money, too many are just a bonus. Knowing that precious fuels aren’t being burned to create electricity that we waste makes us feel better about ourselves and the future of our families. So what can you do? There are a number of cheap ways to make your home that will make it cozier right away plus over time you will recoup the cost in saved heating bills – what’s not to like? Draughts: Try to eliminate cold draughts wherever possible. Add a brush to your letterbox, draught excluders to ‘gappy’ windows and doors, underfloor insulation, loft insulation, and your loft hatch. Consider cavity wall insulation, it will provide a warm coat to your home on those cold winter nights. Lined curtains pulled at night will keep in extra warmth but open them in the daytime to let in any free warmth kindly provided by the sun! Other measures to take… Make sure that your water tank is well insulated and while you’re looking, drop the thermostat by a degree or two. You almost certainly won’t notice the difference and you’ll save ££s. Radiators? Add thermostats for under a tenner each plus fitting, so that you don’t heat rooms you don’t use, but rooms you do stay toasty. Check bulbs in light fittings and lamps and swap broken bulbs for low energy LED equivalents that use 75% less electricity. Check for any grants that may be available before you do any work and remember that your energy company may offer free energy-saving products. Insulation can be fairly costly to install but the return on the investment means that within perhaps 8 years, it will have paid for itself. Most insulation is guaranteed to 25 years so you’ll be well into profit before it needs to be changed. It is however essential that before installation you make sure your property is suitable. Generally, this means that it has cavity walls (so was built after around 1925) and is not in an area exposed to extreme weather such as on the coast or at the top of a mountain. This is because rain could be driven in through the brickwork and any insulation could absorb it and create dampness in the home. Existing insulation in the wall cavities? There’s a strong possibility that it may not be doing its job quite as well as it should. It’s well worth getting a free quotation (from Cavitech we hope!) to see whether it has become wet or dropped within the cavity meaning that some areas are over dense and some are not insulated at all – tell-tale signs might be cold spots on walls and unusual damp or mold growth in the middle of rooms. If this is the case, it can be quite easily rectified by drilling small holes into the walls and pumping compressed air into the cavity to disrupt the sagging or wet insulation which is then extracted via a special vacuum. Most homes take less than a day to complete and all of the old insulation is taken away and the house is left clean and tidy. Sometimes when we extract we also find debris in the cavities ranging from sand to old bricks, the remnants of the house builder’s packed lunch to bird’s nests! It’s amazing what we find – we keep it all to one side to show homeowners who are equally shocked. Anything like this is also removed to save the cold and damp being transferred to the inside wall. Most houses are fine to insulate without this work but always remember to check. So what else can be done this autumn? Move the sofa away from a radiator to allow the warm air to circulate and don’t dry clothes on them, it blocks heat and causes condensation. Add radiator reflectors – pretty much tinfoil behind each rad that bounces heat back into the room. Tinfoil will do the job but you can also buy packs in DIY outlets that are silver and also insulated with a bubble wrap to really preserve precious heat. Check if your boiler is efficient. Changing an old, inefficient one might save you £350 a year+ (TIP: Try not to wait until winter to get it done. Boiler companies often discount in warmer months to drum up business). Lag your pipes! Don’t let valuable heat escape outside or into the loft – lagging them will stop that almost completely and is very easy to do with foam strips that can be cut to size with scissors. Out a lot? Invest in a Hive or similar system so that you can turn to heat on and off via your mobile. Why heat your house whilst you’re having a few unplanned after works drinks or waiting for a delayed train? Your home will be more comfortable and cheaper to run, plus you can also operate lights to welcome you home and deter intruders. There are dozens of steps you can take to make your home warmer and cozier and if you need an incentive just consider how hard you work for your money – do you really want large chunks of it escaping in to thin air?