Six steps to a cosy home

Keeping your house cosy isn't rocket-science. Just follow these easy steps for an energy-efficient home.

1) 'Insulation is sexy stuff' according to Barack Obama

Draught proofing is dirt cheap for windows and doors. So is a tube of silicone to seal the gap between floorboards and skirting. Insulating the loft and cavity walls is also a no-brainer. Find out about grant information on the Energy Saving Trust. You’re looking at £200-300 for the loft in most homes, or less if you do it yourself. DIY stores often have discounts. If you can afford it, use a natural product like sheep’s wool or hemp. Warmcel is that rare beast - cheap, eco-friendly insulation made from old newspaper.

2) Heating controls are another essential

You’ll need a timer on the central heating, thermostatic radiator valves, room thermostat and hot-water cylinder – which should, of course, have a snug insulation jacket.

3) Have your boiler checked

A service might be all you need, but an old boiler may need replacing with an efficient modern version, typically a condensing boiler. Even if it uses fossil fuels, it’s £1,300 or so well spent.

4) Half a home's heat is lost through the loft and walls

There are grants and discounts for insulating cavity walls. Allow £125-160 per square metre to insulate the outside of solid walls. Budget for £35-60 per square metre inside, but prepare for mess. Skirting boards, electric sockets and maybe coving will have to be moved and the walls replastered. You’ll lose some inside space too.

5) After the walls, think of the floor

This also means disruption, but can be surprisingly cheap. Lifting and relaying floorboards is about £35 per square metre, or maybe you can do this yourself. It's about £5 per square metre to lay a blanket insulation between joists held in place by chicken wire.

6) Double or secondary glazing

It's never cheap, but is the icing on the insulation cake. There are a few specialists that recondition single-glazed windows. Otherwise, you’re looking at secondary glazing or new double- or even triple-glazed windows.


Note: Figures are estimates based on information from the Energy Saving Trust (0800 512 012) and eco-renovation experts Parity Projects (020 8643 6630).