When people talk about improving the efficiency of your home or being more environmentally friendly, we tend to think of solutions which cost a lot of money such as solar panels, solar water heating, or other sources of green energy. However, the first step you should take is to review your home’s insulation. We’re all taught from a young age that wearing thick socks and a wooly hat in the Winter will keep you warm and the same applies to your home.
Insulation is one of the most efficient ways to reduce energy consumption as it keeps your home warm in the Winter and cool in the Summer. According to the Energy Saving Trust, an average three-bedroom semi-detached house can save more than £300 per year on energy bills by maintaining sufficient loft & cavity wall insulation. This article highlights some key areas where you can improve insulation and keep your home warm this Winter.
Roof & Loft Insulation
It’s common knowledge that heat rises and therefore it’s important to maintain a well-insulated roof or loft. If your loft is easy to access and used purely as storage, you can lay insulation between the wooden joists and lay floorboards over the top. This should be fairly easy for most competent DIY’ers and the insulation can be purchased relatively cheap from most home improvement stores. You could even lay some rigid insulation boards under the floorboards for added comfort.
Tip: Be careful not to squash the insulation under the floorboards as this will reduce its efficiency and life expectancy.
However, if you’ve had a loft conversion you will need to check the roof insulation itself rather than the loft floor. The most effective option is to fix rigid insulation boards between the roof rafters, but these must be individually cut to size to ensure a tight fit. You can then lay insulated plasterboard over the top to further reduce heat loss and give a smooth finish.
Another option is ‘blown insulation’ which involves a loose, fire-retardant insulation material evenly applied using specialist equipment. We recommend speaking to a professional as it can deteriorate over time and cause mould if not installed correctly.
Tip: Consider fitting an insulated loft hatch to prevent any draughts coming from the loft.
Water Tanks & Pipes
Insulating your hot water tank and pipes is one of the easiest ways to save energy and reduce the cost of your heating bills. A well-insulated system can significantly cut heat loss, thereby reducing the amount of energy required to heat the water and ensuring it stays hot for longer. Check the insulation jacket around your hot water tank and make sure it’s at least 75mm thick, well-fitted and free of any damage. You may consider fitting a British Standard jacket which will reduce heat loss by up to 75% and can be purchased for less than £20 from most home improvement stores.
You wouldn’t go outside during the winter without a coat and the same applies to your home. Heat will always flow from a warm area to a cold area and uninsulated walls can account for up to one-third of all heat lost in the home. In the UK the majority of houses either have ‘solid’ or ‘cavity’ walls; a cavity wall is made up of two walls with a gap (or cavity) between them, whereas a solid wall is just one single wall with no cavity.
Insulating your walls is a job best left for professionals as it requires specialist equipment and expert knowledge. Installing cavity wall insulation involves drilling small holes in the brickwork around the outside wall and then blown insulation is applied using a high-pressure air blower. Approximately 6 million homes in the UK have now had cavity wall insulation installed, saving approximately £160 per year on heating bills, so it’s no wonder the government regard it as one of the most effective energy-saving solutions for homeowners.
Solid wall insulation is much more difficult to install and can be done internally or externally. Internal insulation is applied by fixing rigid insulation boards to the wall, or by building a stud wall which is then filled with insulation; External insulation involves fixing a layer of insulation to the outside wall and then covering it with render or cladding. The preferred technique is external insulation as it causes less disruption, renews the appearance of outer walls and improves the weatherproofing.
Insulating the floor in your home could save you up to £50 per year and depending on the type of floor, can be a relatively easy job for most competent DIY’ers. Timber floors can be insulated by lifting the floorboards and placing insulation between the joists before re-covering. Be careful to leave adequate ventilation to the under-floor air-bricks to prevent the floor boards from rotting. However, many new homes have a solid concrete ground floor which requires under-floor insulation (fitted when laying or replacing floor) or rigid insulation boards laid on top. This can then be covered using wood or a thick sheet of underlay. You can also use rugs and carpets to add an extra layer of protection.
Tip: Speak to a professional about underfloor insulation as it will need to comply with the relevant building regulations in your neighbourhood.
CPM (Complete Project Management) offer General Building & Property Maintenance Services in Exeter, Mid & East Devon and parts of Somerset. Call 01392 363999 or contact us online to speak to one of our specialists about improving your home insulation. A quick call could potentially save you hundreds of pounds each year on your energy bills.