One of the biggest forces that is going to be affecting the cost-of-living crisis this winter is the astronomical increases in gas and electricity costs. Millions of families across the UK will be having to choose between ‘heating and eating’ as the average cost to heat and power a home is set to hit £400 a month come January 2023.
As well as the sheer misery and discomfort of not being able to keep warm during the colder months, there will be knock-on consequences that could exacerbate the issues, both health-wise and financially, for millions of homeowners.
Heating a home is not just about being comfortable – it places the property into the vicious cycle of a cold house becoming a damp one and a damp house being a cold one. Heating your home keeps away the damp and ensures that the plumbing does not seize up when temperatures hit freezing points. A frozen pipe is more likely to burst.
Unfortunately, damp can be significantly detrimental to your health. If you have damp and mould in your home, you are more likely to suffer from respiratory problems, allergies, and asthma. It can also give you some nasty skin conditions – rashes, inflammation of eczema, conjunctivitis, hives, and cracked skin.
Those who are particularly at risk are young babies and children, the elderly, and those with existing health issues.
If allowed, damp will creep quickly and insidiously into the walls, floors, and ceiling of your property, causing potentially expensive remedial work that will need to be carried out sooner rather than later if you are going to have to stop the spread.
Damp is formed in your property through the presence of excess moisture, such as condensation, rising damp, and tiny undetected leaks through walls and the roof. You may have not noticed the damp before because a heated house can keep minimal amounts of moisture at bay. However, if the temperature is too low, the moisture can then build up and lead to the onset of damp.
The following are low-cost or no-cost ways to keep damp at bay while the temperature inside your home is not quite as high as you would usually have it during the colder winter months.
Invest in an electronic moisture meter (about £20 from Amazon or most DIY shops), and keep a regular check on the moisture levels in the walls. You really want to make sure the reading is around 1% or less for brick walls. By monitoring, you can see if the damp is seeping through and try and catch it before it gets worse.
Do you have any soil resting against the external wall of your property? This can be a source of water seeping into the house, so clear it away from any direct contact with the brickwork.
It might seem counterproductive to open the windows and let what minimal warmth you have out, but to avoid the build-up of condensation, you need good ventilation. Condensation occurs when warm air collides with cold surfaces, and the excess moisture has nowhere to go. Left to its own devices, condensation can lead to the appearance of black mould on walls and ceilings and around window frames.
Make sure you wipe away condensation as much as possible. Try not to let it build up and try, and keep your rooms as well ventilated as is bearable.
The more you attend to your property, the better it will respond to your attempts to minimise damp if you are saving money by turning down your heating. Check the roof regularly for damage, particularly after periods of rain, and keep the gutters clear.
While investing in better insulation may be out of the question financially, it may be worth exploring whether you reach the criteria for various warm home grants.
Cooking can get steamy! Cover your pans with lids, open the windows, and use the extractor if necessary.
Condensation is a pesky thing that knows to start gathering in hard-to-reach, tight spaces behind furniture. The trouble is, with these areas, you often don’t notice that it is forming as the area is hidden by the furniture.
You can minimise this possibility by moving the furniture away from the walls just enough so that they are not touching – you only need a few centimetres to ensure that the air can circulate. Get into the habit of checking behind the furniture every now and again just to keep an eye on things.
If you are concerned about damp in your home, we at Garratt’s are more than happy to come and carry out a damp survey in London. You can book this with us directly by filling in your details here on our website.