Mind the Gap – How to stop your house leaking money.

By 1MW Ambassador Lish Fejer

This year, after a cold Canberra winter and continually wondering if someone has left a door open, I am focusing on draught-proofing my home – an easy DIY job that should be on everyone’s to-do list this spring.

Draught-proofing your home can reduce your energy use between 25-50% by keeping in the warm winter air and keeping out the hot summer air.

It’s not the sexiest job around the house but it’s the biggest bang-for buck DIY job you can do to save energy in your home. You’d be hard pressed to spend $200 on draught-proofing products but you will notice a huge difference in your bills and your comfort.

As I embraced my innerspring cleaner (pun intended), enjoying the satisfying clunk of bits of lost Lego disappearing into the tummy of my vacuum cleaner, I discovered the culprit to my winter draft woes.

There were holes, gaps and cracks everywhere. Behind the dishwasher, around the cornices, even under the oven. I loaded my caulking gun and started to stick-‘em up. (WARNING: With this GIY video I was trialing a new style of filming, very stream of consciousness. There is one clanger of a joke. Please forgive me.)

A bit about draughts.

Draughts work against your comfort on two levels:

1. Your expensively heated and cooled air can leak in and out of your house through holes, gaps and cracks in your house. More draughts results in more air to heat or cool and higher energy bills.

2. Even though the temperature of the house might be a balmy 20’C, a draught gently caressing your body can make you feel 4’C colder than the actual temperature. So you crank up the heater and try to get warm but because of the draught, your body is loosing heat. Stop the draught and you feel warmer.

Fresh air. Draughts vs. ventilation

Fresh air is essential to healthy indoor air quality but you have to be in control of what air comes in and out of your house.* You want good ventilation not pesky uncontrollable draughts.

The difference between the two is pretty straight-forward. Draughts are uncontrolled and uninvited air in and out of your home. Ventilation is controlled – you choose when you want fresh air by opening windows and doors, and turning on extractor fans.

Finding and fixing draughts

Spring is the perfect time to spot drafts because we’re beavering away cleaning every nook and cranny around the house. Draughts are pretty easy to find, especially on a windy spring day. You can feel them but if you really want clarification light an incense stick and hold it around anywhere you might think there is a gap or crack. The steady plume of incense will panic in the presence of a draught.

Here are some other tips to help you find the draughts as you go about your spring-cleaning. When you’ve found them I’ve made some step-by-step DIY videos on how to fix them.

This is DIY for non-DIYers .

• Start up high. The biggest draughts usually come in through holes we have cut into our house for extractor fans, down-lights, heating and cooling vents and permanent wall vents.
• As you’re cleaning the windows, check out how well they seal. Are they a bit rattily or do they close tightly?
• What about the doors? Can you see the light of day around them? Does it feel like they’re open even when they’re closed?
• Feel for gaps and cracks with your fingers. A classic place is around the frames of windows and doors.
• When you are scrubbing the skirting boards – any gaps under them?
• High dusting? What about the cornices between the ceiling and the wall?
• Cleaning out the fireplace? The chimney is a giant hole for flies, possums and draughts in summer.

So, as you’re getting into the spring-cleaning thing, have a think about draught-proofing and get into some green DIY. It’s much more satisfying than scrubbing the shower and doesn’t need doing again next week.

* If you have an un-flued gas heater or open fireplace it is essential to have good ventilation to maintain healthy indoor air quality.

See more from Lish at her website Green it Yourself.

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