Although a cooler home might be beneficial in the summer months, come winter you will find yourself cursing the change in weather and wondering why your house is so cold. Trying to ward off bitter temperatures in your own home can get you down, but you don’t have to live this way.
If your house feels cold at night, and you can’t warm up even with the central heating on, you need to start investigating why that is. Not only does it feel uncomfortable to live in a cold home, but your energy bill will also suffer.
Perhaps your house is particularly old, and there are problems with the structure, or maybe you live in a modern build, and it's a case of making small changes that will improve your home's efficiency. Whatever the reason, here are some of the most common explanations for a cold home and what you can do to combat them.
There are Cracks and Gaps in Your Windows and Walls
About a third of a home’s heat loss is due to cracks and holes in windows and walls, with most of that heat loss occurring at night. Although windows help to bring natural light into a home, they can also drastically reduce the temperature in your home if you’re not careful.
What can you do about it? If you spot cracks in your windows and you can’t afford to replace them, you can increase the temperature inside your home by sealing and plugging gaps. If you find cracks at the window edges, seal them with latex or silicone caulk. Urethane foam, which is available in pressurized cans, can be used to fill the gaps. You can also apply weather stripping around the doors to plug the gaps, which will help retain the heat inside your home. You will be able to lengthen the life of your windows by maintaining them adequately, all though this is not a long-term solution.
Your Windows Need Replacing
If you live in an old house with sash windows, it’s likely that they are letting in drafts and expelling warm air from your heaters. Single-glazed panes are also notorious for letting out heat, while stained glass windows are just as inefficient.
What can you do about it? The obvious solution to this problem is to replace your windows, but due to issues with planning permission or budget restraints, this isn’t always possible. If you can’t replace your windows, there are cheaper alternatives that can make your home warmer and more energy efficient, such as insulating film, draft strips, curtains and drapes. If your purse strings are tight, you could cover the windowpanes with cling film or foil to retain more heat.
If your windows are old and you know they need replacing, contact a local company that can give you a competitive quote. Local businesses tend to offer the best prices as they rely on customers in the area. If you live in San Diego, for example, search online for replacement windows in San Diego and contact a local company.
Your Heaters Aren’t Working Efficiently
If you’re still shivering when the heating is turned on, the problem could be with your heating system rather than the structure of your home. Ineffective heating is easy to fix, however, so don’t be dismayed if this does turn out to be the issue. If you live in a rented property, it is your landlord’s responsibility to make sure the heating works, but if you own your home, you need to identify the route of the problem, and seek professional advice if needed.
What can you do about it? First, you need to check the heating system for each room. Check that your heat register is open, or you may have purposefully closed it as you don’t want to heat an unused room, make sure that the return air duct is sealed too. You could unintentionally be increasing the cold air infiltration to the room, and cost you more than you thought that you were saving. You also need to consider the impact on your furnace from closing off too many rooms in an effort to keep the rest of the house warm. It will be working overtime to try and distribute the heat. A closed heat vent can also mean that the return air duct sucks in the cold air from outside through ineffective windows or from under doors; or if the ducts haven’t been sealed properly the extra pressure from the closed off vents can force as much as 15% of heat into basements or floor cavities. It is best to seek advice from a local HVAC contractor because the modern systems are typically finely balanced.
There Are Multiple Small Drafts In Your Home
If your home feels drafty and cold, it’s a good idea to look out for small areas where cold air can get through, such as through letterplates and under doors. It may not seem like much, but those areas can let in drafts and reduce the overall temperature of your home, even when you’ve got the heating on.
What can you do about it? You will need to identify these weak spots in your home and target them one by one. Many people use draft excluders for their doors and seal their windows to prevent heat leaving the building. If you have a letterplate, you should replace it with one that has an internal draft excluder as these can allow a lot of heat to escape from your home.
If your house is poorly insulated, you could cover your entire door and the surrounding wall with a door curtain, which will dramatically reduce the heat loss.
Your Furniture Is In The Wrong Place
As well as making structural changes and checking your furnace is working properly, it’s important to address the location of the furniture in your home. Many people make the mistake of situating chairs, sofas and beds near windows because they enjoy the views, without realizing they would be a lot warmer if they sat somewhere else.
What can you do about it? If you want to maximize the energy efficiency of your home, you’ll need to get smart about where to put your furniture. Position chairs closer to the center of a room or beside an internal wall so that you feel warmer when sitting. If your desk is up against an external wall and you don’t want to move it, you could consider using a thick sheet or tapestry to cover the wall, or else you could insulate it using a cardboard alternative.
Consider investing in a fabulous screen to shield yourself from the drafts. There’s a reason why these were so popular with our ancestors, and that’s because they didn’t have efficient heating systems - not just because they were fashionable. For maximum effect, use it between you and the draught, and not between you and your heat source.
Your Floors Aren’t Insulated
If it isn’t properly insulated, your floor could be to blame for 10% of the heat loss from your home, especially if you have wooden floors rather than carpet. The tiled floors in your kitchen and bathroom can also cause heat loss, not to mention it feels cold on your feet.
What can you do about it? If your budget extends to an underfloor heating system or floor insulation, these are the most efficient options for retaining heat in your home. However, if you rent your home or you cannot afford the expense of having your floor insulated or putting down a carpet, there are numerous cheaper options you can try.
Rugs are efficient at retaining the heat in your home, plus they look great on wooden floors and will be more comfortable on your feet. You might also want to check for gaps in your floorboards and skirting boards, as these can be responsible for letting out a lot of heat. You can use a silicone-based filler to plug the gaps.
Your Roof Is the Problem
If you’ve tried all of the above to no avail, then your roof could be the culprit. A poorly insulated roof can account for a quarter of all heat loss in a home, and if your building pre-dates 1995, you’re likely to need an upgrade.
What can you do about it? Consider an insulation solution for your roof or attic, and don’t scrimp in this area. Instead of trying to fix the problem yourself, call out an expert to do a proper inspection and suggest the best solution for your home. Different types of roof require different insulation materials and techniques, so it’s a good idea to get professional advice before making any changes.
Get to the Root of the Problem
No matter how good your heating system is, if there are gaps, cracks or structural problems in your home, you will lose most of this heat and spend the winter trying to warm your home. You may need to do a full investigation to identify the source of the problem, but once you know where you’re losing heat, there are various steps you can take to improve your home’s efficiency.