Draught proofing: The Snugg 2024 guide
Plugging gaps around windows and doors could save you £45 a year! It’s easy too...
Draught proofing your home could reduce your energy bills and help you feel more comfortable all year round.
It’s often easy and quick to install. And best of all, it’s one of the most affordable ways you can improve the energy efficiency of your home.
In this article, you'll find plenty of helpful information about draught proofing, along with useful how-to guides to help you install it yourself.
What is draught proofing?
Draught proofing involves identifying and sealing gaps or cracks where cold air can enter your home and warm air can escape.
You can usually find these gaps around windows and doors, but they can also appear between floorboards, under skirting boards, around letterboxes and even keyholes.
To draught proof an area, you’ll typically need to install draught proofing strips, tapes or brushes to cover the gaps. This reduces the amount of air passing through it.
But, you don't want to completely block air from passing through all gaps in your home, since you also need to keep your home ventilated. It’s a delicate balance.
The benefits of draught proofing your home
By draught proofing your home, warm air will stay indoors for longer. As a result, you’ll spend less on heating your home and you’ll feel more comfortable.
The inverse is true also. By preventing cool air from escaping your home in the summer, you’ll stay nice and comfortable.
There are many benefits to draught proofing your home, including:
- Lower energy bills: With less heat escaping from your home, your boiler won’t have to work so hard or for so long.
- Lower carbon emissions: A more energy-efficient home uses less energy, which is a big win for the environment.
- Better comfort: A more stable air temperature will feel more comfortable.
- Less damp or mould: During colder months, a draught proofed home will retain more heat which can reduce the spread of damp and mould.
- Less noise: By plugging gaps around windows and doors, noise will have fewer entry points to your home.
- Affordable cost: Many draught proofing methods are cost-effective and offer a great return on investment.
- Easy to install: Most draught proofing solutions are simple enough to install yourself, making upgrading your home a quick and easy task.
How much could you save by draught proofing?
According to the Energy Saving Trust, you could save approximately:1
- £45 a year by draught-proofing windows and doors
- £65 a year by draught-proofing a chimney
This is because draught proofing reduces the amount of heat that’s lost through gaps and cracks in your home, reducing the length of time your heating system has to run.
What types of draught proofing are there?
Since there are lots of ways air can escape your home, there are a LOT of ways to draught proof your home.
Some of the most common types of draught proofing include:
- Draught proofing tape: A self-adhesive tape that’s applied around windows and doors. Good for sealing small gaps.
- Draught proofing strips: Usually foam, rubber or brush strips. Ideal for larger or irregular gaps.
- Door brushes: Attached to the bottom of doors. Effective in stopping draughts and dust.
- Door stoppers / snakes: Fabric tubes placed at the bottom of doors. Not permanently fixed to the door, but a flexible solution to keep heat in.
- Keyhole covers: Small covers that block cold air from passing through.
- Letterbox draught excluder: A brush or flap that fits inside a letterbox. Very effective at reducing drafts from one of the largest gaps in the home.
- Chimney balloon/draught excluder: Both are easy to fit and remove. The balloon is an inflatable device that fits inside an unused chimney. A purpose-built draught excluder is often made from wool, which, as well as being a sustainable material, allows for moisture ventilation while preventing draughts. Both are good for preventing heat loss.
- Chimney cap: Fitted to the top of an active chimney, this cover prevents draughts from entering while allowing smoke to escape. Allows you to continue to use your fireplace but is typically more expensive than a balloon.
How do you find draughts?
Draughts are simply gaps in your home that allow cold air in and warm air out. They can lead to higher energy bills and carbon emissions. So finding and plugging those gaps is key to making your home more energy efficient.
Here’s how to find them:
- Visual inspection: Start by looking closely at the edges of each window and doors to your home. Look for gaps and cracks, particularly around areas where two different materials meet. Then look around other areas, such as floorboards, skirting boards and fireplaces.
- The hand test: Some gaps are hard to see visually. So wait for a windy day and pass your hand around the edges of windows, doors and other areas mentioned in the last point. If you feel cold air entering, there’ll be a gap nearby.
- Check for movement: Pay careful attention to drawn curtains or netting. If the room is otherwise still, movement usually indicates a draught somewhere around the window.
- Inspect chimneys and fireplaces: Check to see if your chimney or fireplace is sealed. An unsealed chimney is a key way that cold air can enter your home.
- Use a thermal imaging camera: If you have one to hand, or you’d prefer to hire a professional to conduct a home energy audit, you/they can use a thermal imaging camera to spot cold spots around the home. This often indicates a draught is nearby.
How to draught proof a window
Draughting proofing a window is a relatively easy job that most people should be able to do themselves.
- Locate the draughts: Inspect each window to identify where the draughts are coming from. Look for visible gaps, feel for cold air and listen carefully for wind noise.
- Choose your draught proofing material:
- For opening windows, consider draught proofing strips such as foam, brush or rubber.
- For non-opening windows, consider using a silicone sealant.
- Prepare the window: Measure the length of all sides of the windows that need draught proofing and buy the appropriate length of material. Then clean the window and its frame of all dirt and debris.
- Apply draught proofing:
- For open windows, cut the draught proofing strips to the required length and fix them with adhesive or nails (this will depend on the type you buy).
- For non-opening windows, carefully apply the sealant either directly to gaps or around the entire window frame for a more ‘complete’ finish.
How to draught proof a sash window
Sash windows are often part of older properties and are often less air-tight than more modern window designs. But with a bit of care, you can easily improve their energy efficiency.
- Locate the draughts: Look, feel and listen around the frame for any gaps. You’re most likely to find the largest gap along the middle meeting rail where the two window frames meet.
- Choose your draught proofing material: For sash windows, brush strips are often most effective. These will allow your windows to easily slide while preventing draughts.
- Prepare the window: Clean the frame and sashes, removing any dirt and debris you find. Then measure the length the sides and middle of the windows that need draught proofing and buy the appropriate length of material.
- Apply draught proofing: Because the windows slide up and down, it’s often better to nail the draught proofing strips to the frame - adhesive strips are more likely to detach with use. Be careful not to attach them too tightly to the frame, as this can reduce ventilation and hinder movement.
How to draught proof a front door
Your front door is one of the main ways that warm air can escape your home. And because it’s used so often, it often suffers more wear and tear than other doors or windows in your home.
- Locate the draughts: Look, feel and listen around the door frame for any gaps. Check keyholes and the letterbox, which may also require insulating.
- Choose your draught proofing material:
- For the door frame, self-adhesive foam draught strips are cheap and simple to fix. Rubber strips can be used too. Choose a colour that matches the door - you're going to be seeing it a lot!
- For under the door, consider a brush strip. This will prevent cold air from entering while allowing the door to easily glide over the floor when opened.
- For the keyhole, you can attach a specialised keyhole cover. There lots of options, but they’re all essentially covers that you can flip on or off for when you insert a key.
- For the letterbox, it’s often easier and cheaper to replace your existing letterbox with a new one that has internal brushes. Simply screw it in, and the brushes will stop any draughts from entering your home.
- Prepare the door: Clean the frame and around the keyhole or letter box, if you’re upgrading those. Removing any dirt and debris, then measure the door frame to see how much draught proofing material you need and buy the appropriate length of material.
- Apply draught proofing: Wait for a cool, dry day if fixing adhesive strips. You’ll want to nail the brush strip to the bottom of the door, as this will see a lot of use - leave enough of a gap so that it still clears the floor when the door swells in summer (if wood). You can attach the keyhole cover with adhesive of screws (again, screws will last longer), and the letterbox with screws too.
How to draught proof an internal door
Draught proofing an internal door can be a quick and easy DIY job.
- Locate the draughts: Draughts inside the home are harder to spot than those coming through windows and external doors. If budget and time allows, it may be worth draught proofing all your internal doors as a matter of precaution. If not, look for any gaps when the door’s closed. Unless you’ve got thick carpet or a door brush already, air usually gets it under the door.
- Choose your draught proofing material: Adhesive foam strips are easy to apply and very effective. Choose the thickness wisely - too thick, and the door may be hard to close, but too thin and it may not insulate well enough.
- For carpeted floors, a door sweep or a flexible rubber strip can work well as they allow the door to glide over the carpet. If there’s such a small gap that the door is already dragging on the carpet, you could consider placing a simple movable draught excluder when the door’s closed.
- For laminated floors, consider adding a brush strip to the bottom of the door. The bristles will be firm enough to seal the gap without scratching the flooring.
- Prepare the door: Clean the door frame thoroughly and cut the adhesive strips to size.
- Apply draught proofing: Attaching adhesive foam strips to the frame is very simple. They’ll dry in minutes, but you may want to leave them for an hour or so to be sure they’re firmly attached before using. If you’re adding a brush strip to the bottom of the door, consider attaching it with nails since it’ll get a lot of use.
How to draught proof a garage door
Garages are notoriously draughty since most were built simply to keep a car safe or store household items. But if you spend time in your garage, there are a few things you can do to keep out the cold. Bear in mind, it can be very difficult to fully insulate an up-and-over door.
- Locate the draughts: If you’ve got an old garage, this shouldn’t be too hard - gaps will likely be plenty! Have a look around, feel for a breeze and listen for any wind.
- Choose your draught proofing material: There are several dedicated garage draught proofing kits available. For most homes, a standard size PVC (plastic) seal is usually adequate. But if you live in an area prone to heavy rain, you’ll want to consider a taller seal. If you’re looking for a cheaper option, you could consider using foam pipe insulation for the bottom of the door. It’s lightweight, doesn’t absorb water and can easily be adapted for draught proofing.
- Prepare the door: Clean the area around the door, sweep away any leaves or dirt and ensure all surfaces are dry. Then measure the areas of the door you plan to insulate.
- Apply draught proofing:
- If using a seal kit, it should come with a strong adhesive which is designed to withstand extreme temperatures and heavy use. With the door closed, mark a line along the floor. With the door open, attach the PVC seal strip along the line drawn on the floor of the garage.
- If using foam piping, cut a line along the length of the piping and secure it to the door with cable ties.
How much does draught proofing cost?
Depending on what you’re draught proofing and the materials you use, the costs could add up to roughly the following:*
- 1 window: £3.52 for 3.2m of foam tape
- 1 sash windows: £19.15 for 5.6m of brush strips
- 1 front door: £6.38 for approx. 5.8m of foam tape, £8.78 for 0.9m of brush strips, £3.86 for a keyhole cover, £12.99 for a new letterbox
- 1 internal door: £6.05 for 5.5m of foam tape, £7.32 for 0.75m of brush strips
- 1 garage door: £38.68 for a PVC draught proofing kit
*Prices based on standard frame sizes and selected online retailers as of January 2024.
While the cost estimates aim to give you a ballpark figure, it's worth noting that actual prices can fluctuate depending on your location, where you choose to shop, and the quality of the products you select. To ensure you're getting the most bang for your buck, we recommend comparing prices across different retailers or consulting a variety of sources to secure the best possible deals on materials.
Draught proofing and ventilation
Ventilation allows moisture to escape your home, preventing the build-up of damp and mould.
But hang on... aren’t we trying to get rid of gaps where air can escape your home? This is the tricky balance between effective draught proofing and necessary ventilation.
Draughts and ventilation aren’t the same thing:
- Draughts are typically larger, uncontrolled air leaks that can make a home colder.
- Ventilation is a small, deliberate gap that allows fresh air in and moisture to escape.
Completely sealing off your home, effectively making it close to air-tight, could result in:
- Excessive condensation
- Damp or mould
- Poor air quality
- The buildup of pollutants
This can be bad for the structure of your home and potentially harmful to your health, particularly if you have respiratory issues.
So, it’s important when draught proofing your home to leave some small air gaps to ensure effective ventilation.
Where can you buy draught excluders?
If you’re looking to draught proof your home, you’ve plenty of choice. Most well-known DIY stores and large retailers supply a range of draught proofing options.
DIY draught proofing vs hiring a professional
Most draught proofing options are easy enough for many people to install themselves. But you could also hire a professional tradesperson to do it for you.
There are pros and cons to both approaches:
Installing draught proofing yourself
- It’s much cheaper, since you won’t be paying for labour.
- You can work to your own speed and schedule.
- It may be less disruptive than having a tradesperson in your home.
- It can be time consuming.
- You may need to spend some time learning how to DIY.
- There’s a higher risk of making mistakes, reducing the effectiveness of the draught proofing.
Hiring a professional
When considering the expertise of a professional for your draught proofing project, seeking out a certified energy assessor or a specialist in energy efficiency improvements can make a world of difference. In the UK, opting for professionals certified under schemes such as TrustMark or that are MCS Certified provides an extra layer of confidence, ensuring the quality and reliability of the work carried out in your home.
- The job will have a higher chance of being done correctly.
- The job is likely to be done more quickly.
- You can focus on other tasks while the tradesperson is working.
- You’ll need to pay for labour.
- You may have to wait a while for a tradesperson to become available.
- It could take time and effort finding a suitable and reputable tradesperson.
DIY draught proofing is rewarding and economical, but complex tasks, especially in historic homes requiring original feature preservation, may need a higher skill level. Assess your DIY skills realistically and consider professional help for detailed projects to prevent damage to your beloved home.
For those in historic or listed buildings, energy efficiency upgrades like draught proofing may require permissions due to heritage conservation laws. Check out our blog, 'How to Improve the Energy Efficiency of Listed Buildings and Conservation Area Homes,' for guidance on obtaining approvals and making respectful upgrades.
If you want to make bigger improvements to your home’s energy efficiency, get your free energy improvement plan from Snugg.
Get more insights
Get your free personalised home energy efficiency plan
Get a free personalised plan to help reduce your energy bills and prepare for a greener future.