When it comes to preventing heat loss, draught-proofing is a quick and cheap option.
Some figures indicate that as much as 30% of the heat lost from homes is lost through draughts and unnecessary ventilation.
British homes tend to be very draughty, and even more heat is lost during windy weather, both through the increase in draughts and because of the cooling effect of wind blowing past walls and roofs.
Ten top draught-proofing tips
Here's a list of places where draughts occur, and what measures you can take to prevent them.
Along the top and bottom of skirting boards - use sealant to fill the gaps.
Between floorboards - a silicone-based filler that allows for some movement is best for filling the gaps in floorboards, or you can insulate the void beneath your floor.
Doors - fit draught-proofing strips between the door itself and the frame. This can apply to internal as well as external doors. For gaps between the bottom of the door and the floor, you can buy a special 'brush' or hinged flap draught excluder.
Loft hatches - put draught strips around the frame to keep out draughts. Also, the door itself can be insulated, typically with a polystyrene slab on the upper side.
Windows - draught-proofing strips work well around opening casements. Draughts also occur in cracks between the window frames and the surrounding walls - you can either use sealant, or putty here.
Letter box - if it does not have a second flap or 'brushes', fit either of these or try Ecoflap.
Keyholes - you can fit a purpose-made cover that drops a metal disc over the keyhole.
Disused vents, perhaps left behind after gas fires and old central heating boilers, with non balanced flues, were removed. These should be sealed up, perhaps with an adjustable vent cover, or you can fill them with expanding polyurethane foam.
Chimneys - if you still use your chimney then you can use a chimney balloon, if you don't use it you can have it capped by a professional.
Damaged or worn parts of a building, for example, where brickwork needs 're-pointing' - add new or top-up mortar between the bricks.
How to reduce unnecessary ventilation
Warm air is often lost because of windows being left open. It isn't usually necessary to open a window for ventilation, that's because in modern windows trickle vents take care of ventilation needs, and in many older homes there are wall vents that allow air to circulate. If you find you need to open your windows to get rid of excess heat, then you probably need to turn down your room thermostat.
Kitchens, bathroom and toilets have a greater need for ventilation than the other rooms in a house, because of the amount of moisture that is produced. Many people do leave windows open for this purpose, but there are other more effective options, especially as there's a tendency to forget about an open window.
So in bathrooms and toilets, think about installing a timed extractor fan, or if you already have a fan, check whether it has an unused timer facility - you may need to change the wiring to activate the timer function. If you have an extractor without a timer you run the risk of leaving it on unnecessarily, which can chill your whole house.
Five top kitchen ventilation tips
Your kitchen can produce a lot of steam and heat, and as a result needs just the right level of ventilation to make sure the moisture gets out, but draughts don't get in.
Turn down each ring or burner to the appropriate level.
Put lids on pans, as excess evaporation probably also indicates wasted heat and fuel.
Think about buying and using a pressure cooker, which will reduce fuel use and cooking times as well as the amount of unwanted heat and steam in the kitchen.
Use a microwave, it generally has less need of ventilation.
Use a cooker hood, but only switch the extractor on for the minimum time necessary.
Will curtains help prevent heat loss?
Yes, curtains are a very good option for preventing heat loss, as long as you remember to close them at night during cold periods and open them again when the sun comes out to let the heat back in.
You could either buy heavy-duty curtains or buy linings for your existing ones - thermal linings are available for extra insulation. Some people even have two pairs and use one on top of the other, but make sure your curtain rail is securely attached to the wall before you consider this.
And, don't let your curtains hang over a radiator, as this will stop the heat from radiating to warm the room. Try to keep the surface of your radiator clear at all times.
In bedrooms, heavy curtains, or thermal/black out linings in lighter curtains, also have the advantage of blocking out the light on summer mornings, so you're not woken up when the sun rises. Find out how to put up a curtain pole.
What can I do if my windows let in draughts?
Strip insulation for doors and windows is a sensible and inexpensive option to prevent draughts. There are a wide variety of draught strips now available, and you should be able to find ones which will stop the cold air seeping or blowing in between your opening casements and the fixed window pane.
Also, check that around the frame, and around non-opening casements, there are no gaps where the cold air is getting in and the warm air is escaping. You can use a sealant around frames and putty to seal around the glass.
Finally make sure you remember the simple things, like drawing the curtains when the sun goes down to retain heat.