Whilst the children have been enjoying the small amount of snow, my wood burning stove has been keeping my solid walled house nice and warm. Its also been ideal weather to take a look at how well the heat stays in your home using the Transition Town Letchworth Thermal Imager. The camera has now been borrowed by a number of people across the town. We have seen pictures of draughts around doors where the draught seal no longer fits the gaps; heat lost where roof insulation is missing; and huge difference in the thermal quality of some of the front doors fitted round the town. In fact houses built in different decades, including some of the newer builds, have all shown up areas of weakness.
The camera also shows up the importance of our behaviours. In this image the downstairs curtains are open and the upstairs curtains are shut. The upstairs windows show as much colder as the heat is kept away from them by the curtains. Keeping the curtains shut reduces the conduction heat loss so its well worth a walk round the house to pull your curtains at dusk.
Since double glazing my house and sealing up the unused chimneys with balloons and a stove (replacing an open fire) there have been problems with damp and mould in cold corners. I started to think about ventilation before this winter and I have opened up the trickle vents on most of my windows to increase the ventilation levels to that required in a new house. I also close off my utility room and vent it with an open window when drying washing in the condensing tumble dryer. This winter I have not seen the damp and mould I have experienced in previous few years. So had I draught sealed the house better than I thought, or do older solid walled houses need more ventilation than modern houses? My suspicion is the later. However, using the trickle vents, I have controlled ventilation rather than draughts, and I can continue to experiment with how many I need to keep open to keep the house healthy. You can see the small heat loss through the trickle vents on the top window in the thermal image.
If you would like to look at your home with the thermal imager then come along to a training session in the Heritage Foundation Hub, 43 Station Road. The dates can be found in our calendar. To book a place email firstname.lastname@example.org.