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How to improve the insulation of your home

Investing in the right insulation could stop heat escaping your home as well as significantly reduce your monthly bills.

Without adequate insulation, much of the heat generated in your home could be going to waste. This guide runs through some of the measures you can put in place to help trap the heat indoors.

Why do you need to insulate your home?

Heat can escape your home in a variety of ways, including through your roof and walls, your chimney, and any gaps around your door.

For example, without adequate insulation, around 25% of the heat produced in your home will escape through your roof. Likewise, around 35% will escape through the walls and 10% will disappear through the floor.

Sometimes called the thermal envelope, it is important that this barrier is kept sealed to prevent heat from escaping your home. This is not only so that you can stay warm and cut down on your bills, but also to reduce your CO2 emissions.

Making even minor improvements can make a huge difference. For example, fitting an insulating jacket around your hot water cylinder can save you £20 a year, as well as 150kg of CO2 emissions. Plugging gaps around your window and hanging thicker curtains can also make a real difference.

However, there are number of more fundamental changes you can make to your home to stop heat escaping.

How can you improve your home’s insulation?

There are a number of areas of the home that can benefit from extra insulation, which when combined, can dramatically reduce your heating bills.

Improve your loft insulation

Losing 25% of your home’s heat through your roof is enough to give anybody the chills and is why having adequate loft insulation is so important.  

It comes in a variety of materials, with the most common being blanket loft insulation. This comes in the form of foil backed felt, rock glass or mineral fibre, and is rolled out between the joists of your roof.

The cost of fitting loft insulation is around £400 for a typical detached house and £300 for a semi-detached. However, such a small outlay should pay dividends almost immediately, with annual savings of £250 for a detached house and £150 for a semi.

Before fitting, you’ll need to ensure that your loft insulation is around 27cm deep. Anything thinner and you’ll need to have more installed. For the finishing touch, it’s also a good idea to seal the loft hatch using strip insulation.

Fit cavity wall insulation

One of the easiest ways to rectify heat loss is to fit cavity wall insualtion. If your home is an older property built before 1990, there is a big chance that your walls are insualtion free.

The typical price to have it fitted in a detached house is £610, while it’s £475 for a semi and £390 for a mid-terraced property. Such a relatively small outlay will pay for itself in next to no time, with a typical saving on a detached house being over £300 a year. Those in a semi-detached property can save around £475, and mid-terrace owners almost £400.

Figures from the Energy Saving Trust also show that the average detached house can also expect to reduce their CO2 output by a huge 1150 kilograms a year by fitting cavity wall insualtion. So, it’s a win-win.

Install floor insulation

To fully upgrade your home’s thermal envelope, floor insulation can be used to insulate floorboards on the ground level of your home and can reduce heat loss due to draughts getting through gaps and skirting boards.

You can insulate floorboards by lifting them up and laying mineral wool underneath, which will need to be supported by netting. To provide fire resistance to the insulation, plasterboard should be fitted to the ceiling of your basement.

Insulation can also be laid over more modern concrete flooring, with high performance insulation panels or boards the most commonly used material due to their high level of thermal performance and minimal thickness.

A typical installation could cost between £520 and £1,300 depending on your circumstances and property type. Monthly savings range from £30 a year for a mid-terrace house and £75 for a detached house. However, when added to the savings you’ll make by installing loft and cavity wall installation, it may be worth the investment, particularly if you qualify for funding.

Make sure you have energy-efficient windows

Figures show that much of the remaining heat loss in the home, over 25%, escapes through windows. Replacing single glazing with energy-efficient glass can play an important role in insulating your home and further reducing your bills. Research by the Energy Saving Trust shows that installing double gazing in a single glazed property could save you up to £120 a year.

Energy-efficient windows are comprised of either two panes, with a gap of around 16mm, or three panes, which can provide even greater insulation.

To help you choose the most energy-efficient windows, ratings council the BFRC has provided an energy-rating scale that considers things such as heat loss, draughts, and solar gain, providing a score of between A++ and E.

Are any grants available for insulating your home?

There are a number of grants available that can cover the complete cost, or a substantial part of, fitting insulation. The main one being the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) grant.

What are ECO Grants?

The Government’s Energy Company Obligation (ECO) is a government-backed energy efficiency scheme that sees the UK’s big energy companies help customers on certain benefits pay for energy-saving home improvements. Not only does this scheme provide funding for a free boiler, but it also covers a range of additional energy-saving measures, including a range of insulation.