Sealing out draughts
Around a third of household heat can escape through gaps and cracks in your home. If all the sources of draughts in a typical home were added together, it would be equivalent to having a 1.5 metre by 1.0 metre hole in the wall.
Draught proofing your home is an easy and cost-effective way to make your home more comfortable in winter and avoid wasting power and money on excess heating.
Checking for draughts
The first step to fixing draughts is to find them. While gaps and cracks are more commonly found around doors and windows, you can also find them in floorboards, skirting boards, sky lights, cornices and architraves – anywhere there are joins. Try the following tips when checking for draughts:
look for obvious gaps - visible light under and around doors and windows
listen for 'rattles' or 'whistling' around doors and windows
feel for moving air around doors, windows, fireplaces, air outlets, vents, stairways, architraves and skirting boards
look for moving curtains
light an incense stick near windows and doors and see where the smoke travels.
An infrared thermometer can also help you find where draughts are coming from. You can borrow one through the Save Power Kit, available free of charge from many local libraries in New South Wales.
How to prevent draughts
There are a variety of products available to seal gaps around doors and windows including draught excluders, draught strips, draught seals, weather-seals or weatherstrips. Choose the product that is best suited to your type of door/window.
The most effective areas to fix are external doors and windows, and doors to ventilated areas such as toilets, bathrooms and laundries.
Other ways to seal out draughts:
Install automatic door closers on external doors and doors to unheated rooms.
Install self-closing exhaust fans.
Install dampers in fireplaces to ensure hot air is not lost up the chimney when the fireplace is not in use. You can also seal unused chimneys with a chimney balloon which inflates and blocks up the chimney. Remember to take it out again if you decide to use your chimney.
Permanently seal vented skylights unless ventilation is required by regulation or to cool your home in summer.
Close ceiling outlets from ducted cooling systems, and seal the outlets at ceiling level. In addition, covers for roof-mounted coolers are available and can also reduce heat losses.
Vented 'down-lights' cannot be safely sealed and should be avoided in heated areas.
Install an external air supply to heaters that burn internal air (such as solid fuel and gas space heaters, water heaters and large cookers) and prevent the creation of draughts. Ensure the external air supply can be shut off when not required.
Use vegetation, other buildings and fences as windbreaks.
Avoid fitting louvre windows in areas that will need to be heated.
Seal the gaps between and around wooden floorboards with an acrylic sealant.
Seal any gaps between walls and skirtings.
Page last updated: 14 September 2011