The long winter months are already upon us. However, rising energy costs are still a concern, looming overhead. With the colder, winter temperatures imminent the cost of heating your home is a big worry for many homeowners.
Add to that hybrid working and the family to entertain with their game consoles and multiple screens, the meter is constantly spinning faster than a hamster on a wheel. Whether you find yourself constantly cranking up the thermostat or putting on that fifth layer, it is time to take a closer look at your insulation.
But, before doing so, it’s important to understand why insulation plays a big part in your home’s overall energy efficiency and bills.
Insulation acts as a barrier that helps prevent heat from escaping in the winter and from entering in the summer. This means that when your home is properly insulated, you’ll be able to maintain a more consistent temperature inside without relying heavily on your heating system. This, in turn, helps you save money on your monthly energy bills.
You can lose a staggering 30 to 40% of your home’s heat through the walls alone. But, don’t worry, there are ways to improve your home’s insulation making it more energy-efficient. For example, doing something as simple as fitting your hot water cylinder with an insulating jacket can save you £70 a year. Why? It reduces the amount of heat lost, so you spend less money heating water up, and hot water stays hotter for longer.
Whether you are looking for quick wins or a professional to install insulation, the suggestions below help you take the necessary steps to maintain a constant temperature in your home and reduce the financial burden of heating.
Inspect and evaluate your insulation
To determine whether you should add insulation, research is the key. This includes inspecting and evaluating your insulation. Thus, first, find out how much insulation you already have in your home, if any, and where it is in order to know how you can improve it.
During the construction of your property, it would have passed through the hands of many individuals and tradespeople. This can result in a gap or break in the building envelope, which may significantly impact the building’s energy efficiency. These issues may go unnoticed as they are hidden behind finished surfaces. Even if your investigation concludes that your home has insulation, there may still be underlying issues. To ensure optimal thermal performance in the long run, it’s wise to seek the help of professionals for a thorough heat loss survey. This type of survey can be valuable for any home, regardless of its age.
A heat loss survey is used to identify any areas in your home where heat escapes. A thermal imaging camera is used to conduct the survey. The image created can be used to identify areas of heat loss in your home. With this you can make informed decisions on how to improve the energy efficiency of your home.
So you’ve done some investigating and now you know exactly what areas of your home need some TLC. Congrats! It can be overwhelming to think about all the improvements you want to make, but here are some common ones that homeowners often need to tackle.
Cavity wall insulation
To future-proof your home and save money on energy bills, cavity wall insulation can be a worthwhile investment. A significant amount of heat is lost through uninsulated walls, with up to 1/3 of heat escaping this way. According to the Energy Saving Trust, investing £1,000 in cavity wall insulation can result in annual savings of around £395. However, the Insulation Assurance Authority recommends budgeting between £1,200-£1,500 for the installation costs.
It is essential before considering cavity wall insulation, to determine whether your property is suitable for it. For example, timber framed properties should never be fitted with property wall insulation.
If you already have cavity wall insulation, check for any damage or deterioration that may have occurred over time. Sealing any gaps or cracks in the walls is crucial to prevent heat loss. If your insulation is thin or has settled, topping it up by injecting insulation material into the cavity from the outside can be a cost-effective solution. This involves drilling small holes into the exterior wall of your home and using specialized equipment to inject insulation into the cavity.
Whether you are installing new insulation or topping up existing insulation, it is essential to use a professional installer to ensure the best possible outcome. Poorly installed insulation can lead to issues of damp penetration. It is essential that installation is undertaken by a reputable contractor and subject to an insurance backed warranty or guarantee.
Solid wall insulation
Solid walls are a common feature in many homes, particularly those built before the 1930s. The absence of a cavity in solid walls makes it impossible to install cavity wall insulation, but this does not mean that the walls cannot be insulated. The good news is there are other insulation options for solid walls, and they can be installed either internally or externally.
While solid wall insulation may cost more than cavity wall insulation, the savings on heating bills will be much more significant. According to estimates, homeowners can save up to £540 a year by adding solid wall insulation to their homes (Based on a typical 3-bedroom, semi-detached house in the UK). However, the costs of installation vary depending on the type of insulation you choose.
For instance, external wall insulation typically costs around £12,000 for a typical UK 3-bedroom semi-detached house, while internal wall insulation costs around £8,500 for the same size of property. Despite the high costs, these figures indicate that adding insulation to solid walls is a worthwhile investment that will pay for itself in the long run.
Wood fibre insulation is a sustainable and environmentally friendly option for internal solid wall insulation. It is a great choice for those who are mindful of their building materials, as it is made from natural materials. Wood fibre insulation comes in various forms, including rigid, semi-rigid boards, and flexible quilts. It is also available as boards ready to accept render or plaster and can also be used as external wall insulation. These options give wood fibre insulation great versatility for insulation all over your home!
Insulating your ground floor is a great way to keep your home warm. And, the best part, you only need to insulate the ground floor. If you live on an upper floor, you typically don’t need to worry about insulating your floor space.
However, floors above unheated spaces like garages should be insulated, as you could be losing a lot of heat through those areas.
If you live in a newer home, chances are your ground floor is already insulated. But if you live in an older home, you may have suspended timber floors.
How can these be insulated effectively? Timber floors can be insulated by lifting the floorboards and laying mineral wool insulation supported by netting between the joists, or by friction fitting rigid insulation board between the joints.
Just remember not to block up any air bricks in your walls. These help ventilate the space under your floor and stop your floorboards from rotting.
For a typical suspended floor installation, it could cost between £1,500 and £3,000 depending on the circumstances. Solid floor insulation could cost considerably more. But don’t worry, you can save up to £110 a year on your energy bill for the average semi.
Roof and loft insulation
A quarter of the heat in your home escapes through the roof, if it’s not insulated. Most homes have some loft insulation, but it’s usually not enough. Adding more insulation, to achieve a minimum thickness of 300mm, can cost around £465, but it could save you £35 a year on your energy bills.
If it’s installed correctly, loft insulation pays for itself many times over during its 40-year lifespan. If you have easy access to your loft, and it’s not damp or a flat roof, you could do the insulation yourself. However, if there are damp issues or you need a more complicated insulation system, it’s best to call in a professional installer.
There has been a lot of media and industry interest in the use of spray foam insulation, with a number of mortgage lenders removing properties fitted with such products from their lending criteria. New guidance from the Property Care Association and RICS has been issued. If contemplating the use of such a product it is vital that advice from a Chartered Surveyor is sought.
Draughts can happen in your home when there are gaps or openings that lead outside. It’s important to block most of these if they are not purposely-formed, but you should also be careful in areas that need good ventilation like rooms with open fires or with lots of moisture like the kitchen, bathrooms, and utility rooms.
The most common areas where draughts occur include windows, doors, chimneys, floorboards, skirting boards, loft hatches, pipework, old extractor fans, and cracks in walls.
You could save around £60 a year, if you effectively draught-proof around your windows and doors! If you have an open chimney, draught-proofing it when you’re not using it could save around £90 a year.
Not only that, but, draught-free homes are more comfortable at lower temperatures, so you may be able to turn down your thermostat and save even more on your energy bills.
Just keep in mind that draught-proofing costs vary depending on how much and which areas of your home you want to draught-proof. Professional draught-proofing could cost around £225 for your whole house but doing it yourself will be cheaper.
* Savings based on a typical gas-fuelled semi-detached property in England, Scotland or Wales.
Windows and doors
Investing in energy-efficient glazing, such as double or triple glazing, can significantly reduce your heating bills. These types of windows have multiple panes in a sealed unit that act as a barrier to heat loss. As a result, your home retains more heat, and you won’t have to turn up the heating as much or for as long.
In older properties which may have restrictions (such as Listed Buildings) it may be possible to use secondary glazing systems the prior approval of the Conservation Officer at the local Planning Authority.
Before making any changes, it’s essential to consult with your local planning office. Although some people may attempt to fit secondary glazing themselves, it’s often best to hire a professional to handle the removal and installation of old and new windows.
While energy-efficient glazing is a valuable investment, it’s important to note that it can be expensive. According to Checkatrade, the average cost of installing 20 windows and 2 uPVC doors is £24,000.
Insulate pipes, tanks and radiators
To reduce home heat loss and see the biggest return on investment, it is recommended by the Energy Saving Trust to invest in draught proofing and insulation of hot water cylinders and pipes, as well as insulation of open chimneys that are not in use.
By undertaking these steps, a typical semi-detached home can expect to pay around £274 initially, but, achieve an annual energy bill savings of £294. This would result in a simple payback time of less than a year, based on current energy prices (calculated in line with October Energy Price Guarantee).
Finding an installer
If you are looking to make any of the above improvements, to ensure quality installation and maximum energy efficiency, seek out a qualified installer who is a member of the National Insulation Association. This ensures the right materials are used in the right locations, and the insulation is carried out to the highest standards possible.
So, there you have it, by investing in your home’s insulation, you can help to make your home more energy efficient, comfortable and help ease the pain of rising energy costs.
Like with any home improvements, seek the advice of professionals before you embark on a project. If you are unsure where to start, Trinity Rose are here to help.