Insulating your home could help you save hundreds of pounds on your energy bills but how do you know if your home is suitable?
Why Should You Insulate Your Home?
Insulating your home will make your home both more comfortable and save you money on your energy bills as well as make your home more environmentally friendly. The energy bill savings can vary depending on what type of property you have and the amount of insulation already present in your loft.
The Energy Saving Trust estimates the following savings:
- Loft insulation can save £10-225 per year
- Wall insulation can save £70-425 per year (depending on your house and wall type)
- Draught proofing can save £25 per year
Insulation grants are generally only available through the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme which many insulation companies and energy suppliers are promoting but they may use a different name for it.
Some of the ECO funding is restricted to low-income households that need to meet certain criteria which are largely benefits related. These grants may cover the cost of insulation or will reduce the cost of insulation.
There are also various schemes throughout the UK that are supported or delivered by local authorities or charities that may offer additional support including utilising the ECO funding, giving additional funding, and energy efficiency advice.
A quarter of all heat loss in the home is through the roof, if your roof is not adequately insulated. Loft insulation is relatively inexpensive, simple and effective and will last 40 years, which means it will pay for itself many times over.
The recommended level of loft insulation is 270mm and homeowners are advised to top up their loft insulation if the current level is below 100mm. If you have not had your loft insulated over the past 10 years it is worth going inside your loft to check what level of insulation you have.
You can top-up your loft insulation yourself, but it is not advisable unless you know what you are doing as there may be electrical wiring that will need to be safely protected. There also needs to be adequate ventilation space to prevent condensation issues. So, it is advisable to find an appropriately qualified installer.
If you or a previous owner has boarded out the loft, there may be some insulation under the boards. Insulating your loft will only be possible if you are willing to remove all the boards as the insulation goes over the level of rafters.
Your loft also needs to be accessible and safe to get into so that it can be insulated.
Uninsulated homes lose a third of all their heat through the walls, so it is worth exploring whether your home is suitable for insulation.
Modern properties are built with insulation inside the walls and some properties are not suitable for insulation. So, you will need to identify whether your home is suitable for insulation as there are different types available depending on your wall type.
Cavity Wall Insulation
Most properties built after 1932 are likely to be cavity wall construction and most of these properties can be filled with cavity wall insulation. Properties built after 1990 will probably have been built with insulation inside the walls.
You can identify cavity walls through the brick pattern as the bricks are all laid lengthwise in a regular pattern (see below image), or you can measure the wall depth through a window if the bricks are covered.
If the wall depth measures more than 260mm it is likely to be a cavity wall. If you think your walls are cavity construction, then you can arrange for an insulation survey which will involve drilling a small hole in the mortar to insert a borescope to inspect the cavity.
If your walls are suitable for cavity wall insulation they can be blow-filled with insulation by drilling several holes in each external wall to ensure that the whole of the wall is completely filled.
Solid Wall Insulation
Solid wall properties tend to be older properties pre-1932, although this construction type may still have been built after this time. If your walls are built with brick you can determine whether your walls are solid walls by the brick pattern which will be an alternating brick pattern (see below image).
Solid walls cannot be filled but they can still be insulated with either internal or external wall insulation. This involves layering up panels of insulation to create a thermal barrier.
The systems are different for external and internal insulation. Externally insulation comes in a range of finishes and has been used in regeneration schemes to give estates a facelift.
Internal wall insulation can be very disruptive as it needs to be applied to all external walls and therefore works best when the house is being renovated and new kitchens and bathrooms are being fitted. Internal insulation also reduces the size of the rooms and can be difficult to install in irregular rooms.
Solid wall insulation is also more expensive than cavity wall insulation due to the materials and time required to install it.
There are several property construction types that are unsuitable for cavity wall insulation as they either do not have a cavity or the cavity is unsuitable for filling, including steel or timber framed properties, stone properties, or pre-fabricated properties.
Potentially some of these construction types can be treated with solid wall insulation but there are often restrictions placed on some of these properties in terms of planning permission, especially if the property is built of stone as most councils prohibit stone from being covered.
Choosing An Installer
You should ensure that the installer is appropriately qualified, competent, and can offer you an industry-backed guarantee. The Cavity Insulation Guarantee Agency (CIGA) is the industry guarantee for cavity wall insulation and the Solid Wall Insulation Guarantee Agency (SWIGA) is the guarantee for solid wall insulation. These guarantees cover the insulation for any issues and repairs. There is no industry guarantee for loft insulation.
You should also ensure that the appropriate permissions and building regulations are completed for solid wall insulation where needed.