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Common Problems

What’s the problem?

Many people find that during the heating season, their houses are not quite as warm as they’d like, with uncomfortable draughts and parts of the house being cooler than others. With so many houses in the city having solid walls and single glazed windows -plus some restrictions within conservation areas - it might seem that there isn’t much we can do about this. But the good news is that there are some low cost measures that will make your home more comfortable with the added benefits of smaller fuel bills and a lower personal carbon footprint.

Why is there a problem?

Nature likes balance and so where there is a difference of temperature or moisture levels in the air, there is a tendency to try and equalize these different conditions. In our homes in winter, usually it is colder and drier outside and so any heat or air moisture inside tries to get out through the walls, floors and roofs of the building to equalize the situation. If our homes have gaps around windows and doors and thin, uninsulated walls, precious heat that the boiler has heated up for us goes straight out to heat the great outdoors and not our house. Added to this, we generate lots of airborne moisture in our homes through breathing, cooking and showering – this is referred to as high humidity. This moist air moves towards the outside walls, floors and roofs in an effort to equalize the situation and hits cooler surfaces such as single glazed windows and uninsulated walls where it condenses, causing mold growth and unsightly decorative damage.

What is the solution?

There are several things you can do to make your house warmer such as:
  • Draught proof your doors and windows. This is fairly inexpensive and will not only cut down draughts and make the rooms feel more comfortable but you may also notice that it is quieter as the draught proofing cuts out some of the noise coming in from outside. Use heavy, lined curtains so that draughts are reduced at night time
  • If your house is in a conservation area (check with Bristol City planning department), there may be limitations on how much you can change the windows. But in many cases you can replace the glazing with slim-line double glazing or if not, secondary glazing. Homes not in these areas can replace windows with high performance double or triple glazed windows which will immediately make your house much more comfortable.
  • Add insulation wherever you can. Loft insulation is often easy to install on a DIY basis and can vastly reduce heating bills….after all, hot air rises! Wall and floor insulation is a little trickier…[what do we say here?]
  • Make sure you have working extract fans in kitchens and bathrooms – you want to get the moist air out of the house as soon as it is produced so that it does not have a chance to cause trouble. Trickle vents (where they exist) in windows can help, as can opening a window for a few minutes after showering or cooking. This will help to reduce condensation on single glazed windows and mold growth. Note that if you have damp in your home it can also be caused by rising or penetrating damp but high humidity within the house will only exacerbate this situation.
Thanks to householder, architect, Superhomer and Green Register founder Lucy Pedler

 

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