Heating your home efficiently isn’t just down to your heating system. Insulation plays a huge part in making sure you keep warm whatever the weather – and in saving you a great deal of money, especially if you live in an older home.
Here are a few tips to help you assess where you can improve your home’s insulation – the government’s Green Deal scheme can also help, funding energy efficiency improvements at minimal upfront cost.
Poorly insulated walls can lose about a third of your heat – so it’s well worth considering. If your home has cavity walls, insulating material – usually mineral wool fibre, urea formaldehyde foam or expanded polystyrene beads – can be pumped or blown into the wall cavity.
Older properties with solid walls can have internal or external cladding. External cladding can be expensive and planning permission may be necessary, while internal cladding means moving electrical sockets, skirting boards, radiators, door and window frames, and reduces the size of the room.
Double glazing – adding another pane of glass to existing windows – is an effective way of cutting down heat loss. Secondary glazing or even plastic film added to the inside of windows helps, but most effective are sealed double glazing units where the air between panes is extracted to leave a vacuum.
More effective still are units that incorporate ‘Low E’ (low-emissivity) glass, which is specially coated to reflect heat back into your home and save even more energy.
While it’s essential for some air movement in a building, rapid movement of cold air – or a draught – cools the air temperature and wastes fuel by having to heat more air than necessary. Draught reduction is the most cost-effective way of saving energy, and the cost can be recovered in less than a year.
Loft insulation is very effective, as about a third of the heat you put into a house is lost through the roof. Most roofs are insulated by laying insulation across the floor between the joists, to a minimum depth of 270mm, so it’s a relatively easy job to carry out and there may even be government grants available to help with the cost. Loft insulation can easily pay for itself in as little as two years. The Energy Saving Trust has some useful advice on loft insulation here