Cracks in buildings = Cracks in bank account
Every year our homes 'leak' up to hundreds of pounds through heat lost through poor insulation.
There are many factors that attribute to a badly insulated house, such as poorly insulated or damaged walls. Think of an older building that has been battered by the elements over the decades. You may look at a crack in an old building and think its nothing more than superficial; a crack in the paint-work maybe? When in fact it could be responsible for losing a large portion of heat from the building. In newer buildings cavity wall insulation counteracts this problem by using glass fibre as an insulator blown into wall cavities to prevent heat escaping.
Poorly insulated windows also play a role in allowing heat to escape from a home. With properly insulated double glazing, hot air finds it harder to escape the house as a layer of air between the two panes of glass forms an insulating barrier, reducing unnecessary heat loss. According to the energy saving trust, 'double glazing can save £130 on your energy bill'. You should also ensure that your doors and windows are draught proof. We all hate draughts, but they can easily be excluded from the home with strips of rubber that make seals tighter.
Floors are an often overlooked area. Signs of poorly insulated flooring include gaps in the skirting boards and cracks floor tiles and slates that leak heat. These gaps are treated easily with sealant that can be bought from the high-street.
Poorly insulated lofts are perhaps the worst culprit of bad insulation. It is recommended that your loft insulation is 270mm thick for optimum efficiency. Without loft insulation your bills would be £145 more expensive.
Detecting thermal leaks in the house can often be easy. In the same manner you could run your hand over an opened vent or extractor fan in your house and feel the warmth pouring out, you can run your hand over a wall or gap to ascertain whether you are losing heat or not. This is a particularly good method to employ on very cold days when you can really feel the difference in the contrasting temperatures.
For smaller leaks and areas where the heat transfer is less evident, more complicated methods are required. This is where our good friend technology can help out. A gadget currently on the market that does precisely this has been produced by D.I.Y institution, Black & Decker. The Black & Decker TLD100 thermal leak detector is a thermal detector that any home owner can easily operate to locate areas of the building responsible for heat loss. The user points the scanner at a target area and a light emitted from the detector signifies whether the area is heat efficient or not. Green signifies efficient and red signifies an area that is losing heat.
There are even more detailed methods of looking at how well your house is insulated. Recently, thermal imaging technology has improved to the extent that we can now measure how much thermal energy a building is losing using a hand-held thermal imaging camera.
Flir are the company responsible for producing the most popular of these cameras, but with prices ranging from £2000, they are unlikely to be bought for household use! Instead a thermal camera operator, or thermographer, can be called to the home to carry out a thermal imaging survey.
These surveys offer a full imaging analysis of a building and provides an on-screen image depicting all areas of the building and flagging areas that need closer attention. The camera is able to minutely pin-point thermal leaks and the images can then be sent to a building contractor who would be able to provide comprehensive reparations to the building.
So, this Winter why not take a closer look at your building and prevent all that hot-air from escaping....Otherwise it could be your money.
Author Barry Vinnicombe
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