No one likes paying unnecessarily high costs for utility bills. Heating can be one of the most expensive annual costs for any household, and so it makes sense to look for ways to use less heat and lower your bills. Ensuring that your home is well insulated is one of the best ways that you can keep the warm air – and your hard earned money – from escaping. Read ahead to learn all about loft and cavity wall insulation.
Insulation refers to materials or objects that are used in order to prevent the transmission or progression of heat, electricity, sound or even fire. The term is most commonly used to describe materials placed in the walls of a building to insulate it from temperatures outside. While typically associated with preventing heat from escaping a home (and keeping cold air from getting in), insulation also keeps buildings cool in the summer. A well-insulated building will maintain a more even temperature throughout the year.
Insulation comes in a variety of materials, including cellulose, rock and slag wool, natural fibres, and fibreglass. A bulkier material will resist conductive and convective heat flow, while rigid foam boards will trap air. Reflective foils are used in order to reflect radiant heat away from indoor spaces, making them ideal for cooling homes in warmer climates.
The most common materials for insulating residential and commercial buildings include:
Did you know that more than one quarter of a home’s heat is lost through its roof? This adds up to a chilly environment and higher heating costs. For this reason, more and more people are insulating their lofts and attics. Loft insulation involves placing a layer of insulating materials at the base of the loft in order to prevent the heat from escaping your living space.
Loft insulation is usually done with mineral fibre that comes in long rolls. These rolls are spread between the joists at the floor level of the loft. This then blocks the heat at your home’s ceiling level, keeping it out of the loft and preventing it from escaping out through your roof. However, if you use (or plan to use) your loft as a living space, you can use rigid insulation boards to insulate the underside of a sloping roof.
Most lofts are good candidates for loft insulation. If it is accessible, and does not suffer from condensation problems or damp, you can likely have it insulated. Mineral wool ‘blankets’ can be purchased from a home centre, and so some people attempt to install this as a DIY project. However, if you are not an experienced DIYer, it is usually a better idea to have a professional do the job.
Some lofts are not easily accessible, and are reached only by small hatches. In these cases, loft insulation ‘blankets’ will not work. A professional installer will blow a fire-retardant insulation material using specialist equipment. This process usually takes a few hours.
While you might have some form of insulation, topping this up with additional methods and materials can help you save even more money on heating costs. As soon as you insulate your loft, you will begin to notice a reduction in your heating bills, and a more comfortable home environment.
Best of all, it is affordable to install, and requires little to no disruption in your home. The materials and installation fees usually add up to around £300, and most people find that it ‘pays for itself’ in 2 years time.
The recommended thickness of loft insulation is 270mm. You should check to see if you have any existing insulation in your attic space. If it is not up to the recommended thickness, you should top it up. Be sure to check for any eligible discounts some installation companies offer discounts to homes and people that meet certain criteria.
Similar to loft insulation, cavity wall insulation is meant to reduce the amount of heat lost out of your home by filling an air space with a certain material. By filling the cavities in your exterior walls, the air within the space is immobilised and will prevent heat loss. This affordable option will save you a lot of money on your heating bills.
What is a cavity wall? Simply put, it is two walls that have a gap (cavity) in between them. Have a look at your brickwork – if the individual bricks form a pattern, there is likely a cavity behind. You can also measure your walls. Any wall that is greater than 26 cm in thickness likely has a cavity inside.
While it might sound like a big job to install cavity insulation, it is actually fairly straightforward. If you are DIY savvy, you could attempt this yourself, but it is usually a better idea to hire a professional. They will drill a series of small holes into your walls, and then pump an insulation material inside of the holes. The materials might be polystyrene beads, mineral wool or foam. They then fill the holes, leaving no trace that they are there.
You also need to find out if your property is suitable for cavity wall insulation. The cavity space needs to be at least 5 cm wide, and the installing company needs to be able to reach and access all of your external walls. If you live in a row house, the installer will also insert a barrier, ensuring that your neighbour’s home is not affected.
Most installation companies have a requirement that your brickwork is in good condition, and not damp. A wall cavity that is infested with mould or damp will need to be dealt with before any insulation can be installed.
If you live in a new build that is younger than 30 years old, you likely don’t need to think about cavity wall insulation – it is probably already embedded in your home. However, if your property is older than the early 1990s, you need to check and ensure that it is in place. Cavity walls are most common in properties built later than 1920, and the insulation did not become standard until the ‘90s. Of course, the price for every home will be different, but most people pay about £720 for installing insulation in a detached home. A mid-terrace will be closer to £370. Don’t let these numbers scare you off, as these costs will usually ‘pay for themselves’ within 2- 3 years. You will notice lower heating bills, a more comfortable home, and less need to turn up the heat!
As you can see, installing insulation in your home is one of the best ways to start saving money on your heating bills. While you will have to pay for materials and insulation at the outset, these costs will soon be recouped by your lower annual heating costs. Always make sure to check to see if your property or personal circumstances make you eligible for a reduced installation rate.
Underfloor Heating Trade Supplies
14 Round Meadow Rainow
Macclesfield , Cheshire
01625 573 454
Monday - Friday: 8.30am - 5.00pm