Skip to main content
Observer Ethical awards Winners 2011

YouGen Blog

Why isn't draught-proofing EPC's number one recommendation?

Posted by Linn Rafferty on 29 April 2013 at 10:44 am

Q: I've been wondering about how often the EPC suggests-draught proofing and extreme draught-proofing as the number 1 recommendation? 

Most homes built before the 1950s are really draughty, even if the new builds have low U values for walls, floors etc or good thick insulation, it is rather pointless if draught issues are not dealt with.

I only ask as I want help through the Green Deal with this but don't see the point on wasting time and money doing EPC if its only going to recommend a better boiler and external wall Insulation.

A: Well, it doesn’t recommend it very often, and there are a couple of reasons for that. 

Firstly, draught proofing doesn’t make a lot of difference to the cost of heating the home, and the EPC recommendations are required to make sufficient cost savings for an improvement of at least 1 SAP point, otherwise they don’t appear. Draught proofing does make a lot of difference to the comfort of a room, and as it’s generally not too expensive it’s well worth doing, but the EPC recommendations are mainly about saving money.

Secondly, the only form of draught proofing recommended on the EPC is for windows and doors. There is no recommendation for reducing other draughts, such as from unused chimneys or gaps at floor level.  Reducing draughts from these sources can certainly be done, but they can’t appear as a recommendation on the EPC.

In terms of Green Deal, draught proofing is an approved Green Deal improvement measure. This means it’s possible to include it in a Green Deal advice report and subsequent Green Deal plan, but again it’s only windows and doors that are included. Unlike the EPC, there’s no requirement for the improvement to give significant cost savings – they only need to meet the Golden Rule.  This means that they must make enough savings each year to exceed the repayments, including interest, during the year. It’s worth remembering that Green Deal finance is only available for professionally installed improvements, not DIY. There’s more on the Golden Rule in my other blog.

Q: Also who would I complain to about procedures followed by the Wise Group in Glasgow, they do roof insulation, but only deal with draughts if you ask them and won't come back out for draughts alone. This seems rather wasteful in terms of meeting energy performance targets, sending men out to a job multiple times, when the 2 jobs should go hand in hand and are both FREE for the customer!!! Also means the insulation does not really help. So any ideas who i could write to about this?

A: The Wise Group is a social enterprise that works with a number of different organisations to deliver help to Scottish people, and energy efficiency and energy advice are two ways they help. Unfortunately I don’t know which scheme you are describing, so I can’t tell you who is providing the funding for the scheme. If, for instance, the scheme you refer to is funded by the Scottish Government, the Wise Group will be required to follow procedures set out by the Scottish Government for the scheme.

Your first point of contact if you want to comment on their procedures would be the Wise Group themselves. If you didn’t receive a satisfactory answer, you could then take it up with the funding provider.

Photo credit: perspicacious

About the author: @linniR is a consultant, a freelance writer and a Domestic Energy Assessor accredited with the NHER scheme, and she enjoys all three.  She tweets regularly on issues relating to energy efficiency and renewables and provides consultancy, especially in relation to training needs.

If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.

Like this blog? Keep up to date with our free monthly newsletter


4 comments - read them below or add one


grocketComment left on: 15 September 2019 at 11:22 am

Difficult to believe that less than 1/3 of the UK's heating energy usage for homes with chimneys could not be saved by properly closing off open chimneys(but not too much to cause damp problems) and closing off the open holes built into walls to provide air for fireplaces that are not or hardly used. 

In a two bed flat we had approximately 5 bricks worth of open holes built into the walls, so effectively we were heating with that much of a "window" open all the time, and with one chimney open completely it was like having something like 5 bathroom fans sucking warm air out of the flat CONTINUOUSLY when heating.

Would be fun to fly a drone over London on a cold night with an infrared camera and film the fountains of warm air gushing into the night sky.

To be fair, some flats have so much rising damp that there would need to be some allowance, but there must be some way to save and manage that, even if damp proofing the bricks around the foundation whould be prohibitive.

report abuse

anne miller

anne millerComment left on: 14 June 2013 at 11:38 am

Seems daft to say that dealing with draughts impoves comfort, but not costs.  They’re interrelated.

On our 1902 terrace, we’ve steadily been tracking down and dealing with draughts and its made huge difference. The obvious ones round the sash windows and doors were easy: a combination of brush strip, an acrylic sealant gun (eg round teh window frames, and central heating pipes), and “invisible” sellotape round the sash windows in the winter.

But the less visible sources of air leakage  are also important.  Stuffing rolled up newspaper under the upstairs floor stopped the carpet billowing when a strong wind blew!  Blocking the chimneys (but leaving enough ventilation to avoid damp) has also been hugely worthwhile.

report abuse

Cathy Debenham

Cathy DebenhamComment left on: 2 May 2013 at 8:13 am

Really interesting Anthony, thank you. It's one of our number one jobs this summer!

report abuse


Anthony525Comment left on: 30 April 2013 at 5:33 pm

Drafts/holes probably add more to the cost of heating a home than any other item. Drafts and their effect on a home are dependent on the exposure of the home to the wind and the location of the holes.

If you have a hole in your upstairs ceiling and no other holes, very little draft will be noticed as there will be almost zero air movement.

Add another hole in the downstairs floor and sudddenly you have a strong draft that can strip the heat from a room and make your feet cold.

Throw in a strong wind and the creating of a low pressure area down wind of your roof, this will suck your warm air out at an unimagined rate, leaving you wondering what happened, why has your heating bill soared.

Having two holes say of 9mm diameter at the same level on one side of a home will cause little draft, have them on different sides and different levels, when the wind blows they can strip a home of its heat, increasing your heating bills.

Finding holes and blocking them will save a lot of money. As its the type of job that can be started and left, and picked up again, it is easy and cheap to do and it pays for itself very quickly.

report abuse

Leave a comment

You must log in to make a comment. If you haven't already registered, please sign up as a company or an individual, then come back and have your say.