Curtain blowing

Dealing with draughts

A cruel wind coming in through the gaps around windows and doors can make a considerable difference to the warmth of your home. Here are your options for keeping cold draughts at bay.

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Blocking draughts helps keep heat inside the home, so it’s worth taking the time to find the source. Likely suspects are gaps around windows and doors, between floorboards and around pet doors, as well as chimneys, fireplaces, extractor fans and rangehoods.

Tip: If you’re struggling to find the source of a draught, try using a candle. Light it and then run it around door frames, window frames or other potential sources of draughts to see where the flame flickers.

Things your landlord can do to minimise draughts include tightening latches to ensure doors and windows are pulled tight to the frame, installing permanent draught excluders for gaps under doors, and installing underfloor insulation. Insulation is compulsory in rentals from July 2019, see Insulation in rentals for more detail.

There are also some quick and easy things you can do to reduce draughts.

Doors and windows

You can seal gaps around doors and windows using draught-proofing products. They come in various shapes and sizes – for example, a metal brush strip that’s screwed on to the door, or a rubber strip that blocks the gap between the door and the frame. Seals can be found at hardware stores.

You can measure how big the gap is by closing the door or window and seeing how many pages of a notepad, magazine or book you can fit into the gap, then measure the thickness. Before installing self-adhesive seals, clean the paint surface otherwise the strip won't stick.

For internal doors, door snakes (also called door sausages or draught stoppers) can be good for blocking draughts. They’re cheap to buy or, if you have a sewing machine, easy to make.

Extractor fans

Some extractor fans and rangehoods have backdraught shutters. If you think there is a shutter, but there’s still a draught coming through, it may not be working properly. Talk to your landlord about getting it fixed.

Pet doors

An ill-fitting or broken cat or dog flap can let in cold air. If it’s broken, ask your landlord to replace it with a good quality cat flap with a close-fitting flap and strong return mechanism so it doesn’t blow open in the wind. Also, remember to use the little catch that locks the door when it’s not in use.

Fireplaces

Depending on the fireplace, you could use a loose-fitting removable panel, a plastic bag stuffed with newspaper or fabric, or even insulation offcuts to prevent draughts blowing through. Make sure any blockage is obvious so someone doesn’t try to light a fire.

Floorboards

While underfloor insulation is your best bet for stopping draughts coming through wooden floorboards, if that’s not coming anytime soon, look at draught proofing the worst of it. You can use some of the same products you use for windows and doors. Rugs and carpets can help, but won’t block the draught completely.

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This report is free thanks to funding from the Ministry of Health.

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