Dr Energy: The task seems overwhelming! Can you tell me where I should start in my 200-year-old house?

1. A wet or damp building is less energy efficient than a dry one. This is because energy can track across water molecules more easily than the tiny air bubbles you’ll find in most building materials i.e. bricks. What this ‘dryness’ requires is good building maintenance, so critically keep the feet and the head of your building dry. This means sort out any rising damp and any roof leaks or leaky/overflowing gutters and downpipes.

2. Steer clear of high-tech, so-called ‘active’ systems like solar panels and heat pumps until you have done all the draft proofing and insulation you can. But do not be daunted by the extent of these: start with the easy draft proofing to doors and windows, insulate the roof next (you may just have to add more to what you have already), if you have an underground floor area that you can access easily (there are lots in Hastings!) then insulate from below next. Wall insulation needs more thought and more care (some thoughts on that will follow) but in principle, insulate the exterior of walls if you can, because this helps the mass of the wall hold onto the inside heat.

3. The most important thing is to make a start; do something! One approach after the simplest actions might be to insulate each time you decorate. For example, if you are decorating outside and have some tile hanging or boarding, then consider taking that off and insulating behind it, repairing as necessary. If you are decorating a ground floor room and you have not been able to access under the floor, then take some boards up and assess what access you have. You might be able to insulate between the floor joists and even, perhaps, add say 25mm of rigid insulation on top of the joists (this would require a little ramp into the room and a strip cut off the bottom of the door).

4. If you do not want or cannot afford new triple glazed windows, then try a simple minimal i.e frameless, magnetic strip and glass secondary system (more details to follow). And, of course, curtains with thick linings will also help.

For a free energy advice appointment or to submit your question email