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Draught proofing - how much could you save?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 14 October 2016 at 1:40 pm

Leaky buildings cost a lot of energy. Draughts allow hot air to escape from even the best insulated houses, and can be uncomfortable for those inside. Historic England report that older buildings lose 15-20% of their heat through draughts [1]. Fortunately this can be solved by draught proofing, which is one of the easiest energy saving measures to install.

Leaks can easily be removed by fitting insulating strips around doors and windows. These generally take the form of foam strips with an adhesive back. They are attached to the door or window frame and ensure that a better seal is created when it is closed. This is especially important on older doors which might have become warped over time. Draught proofing is available in several different thicknesses. So it is worth making sure that you are getting the appropriate type for the gap you want to block.

More elaborate systems consist of brushes that can be attached to the bottom of doors, and the edges of windows. These are somewhat more complicated to install than the adhesive strips, but are still easy enough that you can do it yourself. When draught proofing your door you will want to ensure that the letterbox and keyhole aren’t still letting out warm air.

So where are draughts most likely to occur? Doors and windows are the obvious places to check, but it is also useful to consider other areas where there might be a gap in the fabric of the building. Cables and pipes often penetrate the wall, and can leave a gap. Floorboards can also be a source of draughts if they don’t quite fit together properly. Look for cracks, particularly at the joints between walls, and in places where extensions have been added to a building.

One point to consider is whether it is only external doors that are causing draughts, or whether some internal doors would benefit from draught proofing as well. If you are using temperature zoning, or leave some rooms empty for large periods of time then it is worth making sure that the gaps between the colder parts of the house and the warmer areas are draught proofed. This is particularly important if you don’t have the same level of insulation across the entire building.

Single glazed windows can also result in heat loss, but upgrading to double glazing isn’t the only way to fix this. Adding draught proof brushes to sash windows can substantially increase energy efficiency, since more heat is lost through air gaps than through the glass itself [1]. It is also possible to buy “secondary glazing film”. This is a sheet of transparent material which is added to the window to cut down on heat loss. British Gas recommend this film [2], but Which? Magazine found it to not be very effective. They report that the hassle of installing and repairing the film outweighed the benefits [3]. In many cases curtains and blinds will be effective, and easier to install.

So how much does it cost to install draught proofing? And how quickly do these measures recoup their costs?

The cost of draught proofing will vary from one house to the next, depending on how large the building is and how leaky it is. Draught proofing isn’t expensive, but if you need a lot of it then it could still cost well over £100. As usual getting it done professionally will be more expensive than going down the DIY route. Unlike many energy saving measures installation is very easy.

Even if you need to spend a lot to install draught proofing you should find that it will pay back within a year or two. The Energy Saving trust report that draught proofing can save between £25 and £50 a year [4], other sources support this figure [3].

Draught proofing is a cheap and easy way to make your house more energy efficient. It has been reported that if all houses in the UK were sufficiently draught proofed the country could save as much as £190 million in heating costs [5]. Since almost all heating comes from fossil fuels that would be a substantial reduction in carbon emissions as well.


  1. Historic England
  2. British Gas
  3. Which? Magazine
  4. Energy Saving Trust
  5. The Green Age

Image Credit: gingerbeardman via flickr

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1 comments - read them below or add one


LondonSashWindowsComment left on: 18 May 2017 at 2:34 am

Thanks for drawing awareness to the issue, I would like to add that on occasion we have draught proofed sash windows and still had draught find a way in! The draughts managed to find a way from a hole in the cavity wall, right through to the pulley wheels. We believe the draught to be from air bricks allowing ventilation. The solution is to ensure the side of your box sash windows have a backing, and therefore the draughts have no way of entering. We should also consider some ventilation in the right places(not the living room on a cold day!) is useful and solves damp issues.

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