Dr Energy: What is the best thing you can do to save energy in an old home?

Energise South Coast helps a lot of people with older homes locally and they are usually more difficult to make energy efficient. Bear in mind heat will always try and escape to the outside. Have a look round your house and review where heat is escaping, where cold air is coming in and what can you do to stop this.

“View from West Hill Lift, Hastings Cliff Railway” by vic_burton is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Draught proofing any gaps around doors and windows is a quick and easy lockdown job and will make a big difference, as will thermal lined curtains.  Don’t forget the chimney! You can block unused chimneys with an old pillow or buy a chimney balloon. If you have draughts whistling though your floorboards – fill the cracks.  The best finish comes from using wooden slivers and then sanding everything down to an even finish. Alternatively, you use a specialist product such as Draughtex or mix up your own sawdust mix. Or consider getting a company to insulate under the floorboards.

Insulating your loft to 270mm will make a difference and pay itself back in bill savings in a year or two. Providing the loft is accessible then this is another one for DIY enthusiasts as a roll of insulation will only cost around £30. Alternatively, you can get a company to do it for around £400 depending on the size of your loft. 

It is often much more difficult to get your walls insulated in an older property. If you don’t have a cavity wall then your options are either to have insulation on the inside of your wall or cladding on the outside. Both are expensive and you should speak to experts before going ahead to make sure that it is being done with the right materials for an older house. There is funding available for all the measures mentioned from the Green Home Grant, or from the Energy Company Obligation scheme if you receive benefits.