Home insulation improvements to reduce your bills

15th May 2014
Home insulation improvements to reduce your bills

Lots of different energy-saving improvements are bandied around in the press, particularly with the Green Deal arrangement offering you funding for doing so.

However, with so many out there, how are you meant to know which is the best one for you, given your financial situation, energy expenditure and the house in which you live?

Here are a few of the most commonly adopted improvements and why they might be a good idea for your property. 

Cavity wall insulation

As much as one third of heat escapes through the walls in an uninsulated house. 

Opting for cavity wall insulation is one effective way to combat this. The procedure simply involves drilling small holes into gaps (also known as cavities) in the external wall and filling it with insulation – such as mineral wool, beads or granules, or foamed insulants. This prevents the heat escaping, meaning you can enjoy a warmer house and a reduced energy bill. The process as a whole will only take a couple of hours, so it's not like your entire property will be out of action for weeks on end. 

The price of this energy-saving measure obviously depends on how many walls you've got. The Energy Saving Trust estimates it will cost about £330 for a gas-heated flat, while this will be around the £475 mark for a semi-detached property.

However, you could save approximately £75 annually on your heating bills if you install this in your flat, meaning you'll get your money back in just over four years. This figure could rise to £145 in a semi-detached, meaning it pays for itself within a little more than three years. 

Furthermore, you'll be cutting your carbon dioxide emissions by hundreds of kilograms annually – what's not to love?

There's a few things you need to bear in mind before you embrace this energy-saving procedure. The majority of houses built after the 1990s already come with insulation in the walls, but if it's older than that, it's something you need to bear in mind.

Assuming your house was constructed before the 1920s, it'll have cavity walls and you're free to explore the idea of having insulation put in like we have just discussed. 

However, if it was built prior to this decade, your property could well have solid walls. There's a few ways to tell the difference – if the bricks are all of the same shape and size, you've got cavity. If they're varied, you've got solid walls. Also, if they're more than 265 mm thick, it's cavity that you're dealing with – anything less and it's solid.

Solid wall insulation does exist but it looks a bit different. It's often more expensive but the savings will be heightened in the long run, not to mention your carbon dioxide emissions will also be slashed. 

Loft insulation

As much as one-quarter of the heat loss in an uninsulated home is through the roof, because heat rises.

This is a sure-fire way to stop this precious warmth escaping from your property and it's really simple – in fact, you can even do it yourself.

Such an energy-saving technique is effective for as many as 40 years, meaning it'll pay for itself numerous times throughout this period.

For a detached bungalow, you're looking at approximately £265 in installation costs, but the savings it'll bring about are around the £200 mark every year. 

Similarly, for a semi-detached property, it'll set you back £300 but you'll regain half that annually in the money you get back from this. 

It might be the case that you already have loft insulation, but are you sure there's enough of it? It's recommended you have 270 mm to ensure you capitalise on all the energy savings that are possible. 

Topping up how much protection against heat loss you have means you can cut down your bills, reduce your carbon emissions and generally have a more energy-efficient house. 

If your loft is difficult to get to, don't worry. Loose, fire-retardant insulation can be blown into your loft through the use of specialist equipment. The material is made out of cellulose fibre or mineral wool and the whole process won't take much more than a couple of hours. 

Flat roofs ideally need to be insulated from above and this can be done via a layer of rigid insulation board being added to either the roof's weatherproof layer – or on top of the timber roof surface. 

If your flat roof is in need of being replaced, it's mandatory that it's insulated, as dictated by Building Regulations. 

Floor insulation

Between £60 to £75 can be saved by insulating the floorboards under your ground floor. This is a very simple process – the gaps around the floors and skirting boards can be fixed by buying a tube of sealant from a DIY shop.

The majority of newer homes come with a solid concrete ground floor, which can be insulated when it needs replacing. Alternatively, rigid insulation can be put on top of this. 

Suspended timber floors are the most common option for homes that are older and they can be insulated if you lift the floorboards and put mineral wool insulation down. This will need to be supported by installing netting in between the joists. 

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