A guide to home insulation: Boosting energy efficiency in your home.

Blog Home Insulation Guide 1

No doubt you’ve heard about the importance of home insulation and how it could help you save money on your energy bills and reduce your CO2

But with one report suggesting that 10 million homes across the UK could have insufficient roof insulation, and that it’s costing them each an extra £900 annually, you can begin to see exactly how important it is.

But what insulation is available in the UK, and what is the best insulation for your house? Let’s help you answer those questions so you can get the most out of insulating your home - and start saving energy, money and CO2.

What is insulation?

Insulation is any material that is used to reduce heat loss from a building or in the summer keep heat from entering. It is usually made from fibreglass, rockwool, or foam. Insulation can be installed in walls, ceilings, floors, and roofs.

How does insulation work?

It’s simple really, insulation works by trapping air. The air pockets in insulation are poor at conducting heat and slow down the warmth escaping from inside your home to the outside in the winter. It also stops heat coming in from the outside to the inside in the summer. This can help you save money on your heating and cooling bills.

What are the different types of insulation?

There are a number of different ways you can insulate your home. Some are simple and you can do them yourself. Others are more involved and will require a professional. Let's start with the simple ones and work our way up.

Draught proofing.

This is the simplest way to start insulating your home. It involves sealing the gaps around your windows, doors, and floorboards so that heat can’t escape.

You can buy a range of sealants, adhesive strips, draught excluders and from most DIY stores and do this yourself - saving you money on installation costs.

Insulating hot water tanks and pipes.

Again, another simple measure you can do yourself. Insulation jackets for hot water tanks and cladding for pipes are widely available. Just make sure you take the measurements of your tank and pipes with you when you go to buy your materials.

Loft insulation.

This is the one that most of us have heard of. It involves putting a layer of insulating material between and over the joists in your loft.

There are a number of different materials that you can use to insulate your loft. Mineral wool and glass wool are common. They’re widely available and will provide you with good thermal (and sound) insulation. But if you do decide to fit it yourself, do make sure you wear the right protection, as these materials can irritate your skin.

Sheep wool is also used for loft insulation. It has the advantages of being natural and sustainable too. However, it is more expensive than mineral or glass wool, and you should make sure that it is treated to prevent pests from taking up home in it.

And if you are interested in more sustainable insulation materials, you may want to consider cellulose. It is made from recycled materials and provides excellent insulation. Just keep in mind the material can settle over time and lose some of its effectiveness. And it is a specialised job so you may want a professional to install it.

Cavity wall insulation.

If your home was built in the last 70 or 80 years your outside walls are probably made of two “skins” (an outside and inside wall) with a gap, or cavity, between them.

Builders originally put that cavity in to prevent dampness reaching the inside walls of the house. But we can now take advantage of it by filling it with insulating material.

This is a job that is done by professionals, who will fill the cavities with a special insulating foam.

Solid wall insulation.

If your house is a bit older, it probably does not have cavity walls. But don’t worry. You can use external home insulation for solid walls.

Solid wall insulation involves fixing insulation boards to your external walls. They’re usually attached to the outside of your home, and are then given a protective finish that makes them hard wearing and sturdy - like a regular external wall. (You can have these boards attached to the inside of your external walls, but bear in mind that this will make those rooms feel smaller.)

Floor insulation.

Floor insulation is another way to eliminate heat loss and draughts.  If you have floorboards, it usually involves lifting them and spraying the insulation between the joists.

However, you could use a company like Q-BOT, that uses intelligent robots to go under your floor and spray insulation into the space. It’s a lot less hassle.

A solid floor needs a layer of insulation laid on top of it. This is a pretty intrusive process and will involve you clearing any rooms that you want to insulate before the work starts. But if you are keen to insulate as much of your house as possible, you may feel getting floor insulation worth the disruption.

Energy efficiency advice for your home.

Ready to get energy smart? This video is full of useful tips for more efficient energy use in your home.

From smart meters to draft excluders, there are plenty of simple measures we can take to make the most of our home energy.

What is the best insulation for my home?

The best type of insulation for your home will depend on a number of factors, including your budget, the age and construction of your home, and maybe your DIY skills if you are thinking of doing it yourself. But before you undertake any home improvement like this, it is important to consult with a qualified contractor to find out what options are available to you.

How much does it cost to insulate a home?

The cost of insulating a home can vary depending on the size of your house, the type of insulation you choose, and the cost of labour.

You may pay a few pounds for things like insulation tape and brushes for your windows and doors, right up to £2,700 for cavity wall insulation on your semi-detached.

However, it is worth remembering that the cost of your insulation can be recouped in energy savings over time. And there is the added benefit of reducing your carbon footprint.

Government grants and schemes.

There are also a number of house insulation grants and schemes available from the government to help insulate your home.

The main one is known as the Great British Insulation Scheme - or GBIS for short.

If you meet the eligibility criteria for GBIS, you can get funding for a number of home insulations. So you could have a home that is more energy efficient for less.

Benefits of a house with insulation.

There are many benefits to home insulation apart from the obvious. We’ve already mentioned reducing your energy bills, but other benefits include:

  • Increased comfort: insulation can help keep your home more comfortable in winter and summer by keeping warm air where you want it.

  • Improved indoor air quality: It can help to improve the indoor air quality in your home by reducing dust and allergens that enter it.

  • Reduced noise pollution: insulation can help reduce noise pollution in your home.

  • Increased home value: Buyers can see the value in a well-insulated home which could increase its value and sellability.

Good insulation is also pivotal in keeping mould at bay, as it helps maintain a stable indoor temperature and reduces humidity levels. By preventing heat loss in winter and heat gain in summer, insulation minimises condensation on walls and ceilings, which is a common cause of mould growth.  

Well-insulated homes are less likely to experience cold spots where moisture can accumulate. Effective insulation also enhances the efficiency of heating and cooling systems, ensuring that indoor environments remain dry and mould-resistant. So investing in quality insulation not only improves energy efficiency but also promotes a healthier, mould-free living space.

So… Is it a good idea to insulate your home?

Home insulation is often a cost-effective way to save money on your heating bills and improve the comfort of your home. The good news is that there are all sorts of ways to insulate your home that suit all kinds of budgets. But even if you are considering some of the more expensive options, it’s worth remembering that these will save you more on your heating and cooling costs in the long run.

And if you are considering more extensive work to insulate your home it’s a good idea to consult a qualified contractor to determine the best type of insulation for your home.

Because with the right insulation, your home will be more comfortable, cheaper to heat and help contribute to a lower carbon footprint for all.

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Published 04/06/2024