Six ways to insulate your home and save money
- Credit: PA
It’s not too late to insulate your home ahead of the winter weather. Here’s how:
The end of the long, hot summer coupled with rising energy prices means it’s a good time to check that your home is properly insulated before winter sets in.
In short, properly insulating your home is an environmentally-friendly move that could save you a fortune over the years.
“There are many ways to insulate your home, which will not only save you money but are better for the environment too. Some options are relatively simple - from lagging pipes to even insulating a loft - and can be completed by a householder.”
Here are the six main areas the Energy Saving Trust says need insulating in the home, and how much you could save on energy bills...
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1. Roof and loft
Insulating the loft or attic is a simple and effective way to reduce heat loss and heating bills, and it should pay for itself many times over, says the EST. If access is easy and loft joists are regular, you can use rolls of mineral wool insulation. This will keep your house warmer but make the roof space above colder, meaning pipes and water tanks in the loft could freeze more easily, so you’ll need to insulate them too.
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In addition, the cooler air in your insulated loft could mean cold draughts come through the loft hatch, so fit an insulated loft hatch and put draught-excluding strips around it. If your loft is easy to access, isn’t damp and doesn’t have a flat roof, you could probably insulate it yourself, but where there’s damp a professional installer should be used.
How much can you save?
The EST says typical installation costs for roof insulation are between £285-£395, depending on the size of the house, and fuel bill savings can be between £115-£215 a year.
2. Cavity walls
Heat will always flow from a warm area to a cold one, so the colder it is outside, the faster heat from your home will escape. Houses built from the 1990s onwards usually have wall insulation, but older houses may not and could be losing a lot of heat.
Most types of wall can be insulated, though you need to identify what sort of walls you have. If a house was built after the 1920s, it’s likely to have cavity walls (two walls with a gap in-between). Older houses are more likely to have solid walls. You can tell which type of wall your house has by looking at the exterior brickwork: if the bricks have a regular pattern, the house usually has cavity walls, and if there’s an alternating pattern, it probably has solid walls.
3. Solid walls
Solid walls let through twice as much heat as cavity walls, but they can be insulated, either from the inside or outside. Internally, rigid insulation boards are fitted to the wall, or a stud wall is built and filled in with insulation material. Externally, a layer of insulation material is fitted to the wall, then covered with a special type of render or cladding. There are advantages and disadvantages to both methods, says the EST.
You can seal the gaps between floors and skirting boards yourself with a DIY store sealant. Older homes are more likely to have suspended timber floors, which can be insulated by lifting the floorboards and laying mineral wool insulation supported by netting between the joists. Many homes, especially newer ones, will have a solid concrete ground floor. This can be insulated when it needs replacing, or can have rigid insulation laid on top.
Draught-proofing is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to save energy, and it’s as simple as using sealant to block unwanted gaps around areas including windows and doors, and around pipework leading outside.
How much can you save?
Professionals can draught-proof your home at a cost of around £200, but it’s often easy and much cheaper to do it yourself. Make sure you don’t block any intentional ventilation, such as under-floor grilles, air bricks or vents though.
For more information on saving energy, visit energysavingtrust.org.uk. Looking for a good installer? The National Insulation Association is a member organisation for the insulation industry in the UK. For details of local installers, visit nia-uk.org