How to take a holistic, whole-house approach to insulation: part one - thumbnail image

How to take a holistic, whole-house approach to insulation: part one

We are rapidly approaching the end of British summertime, and as the chill kicks in, thoughts inevitably turn to keeping warm. As a nation, we spend the majority of our time indoors, so it’s important to focus most of our efforts here – on insulating our homes. Unfortunately, research indicates that the UK is home to some of the most poorly insulated housing in Europe.

In this two-part blog series, we explore the different types of home insulation and explain how to insulate different parts of a building. Part one begins with the ‘bottom’ of a house, covering wall insulation, as well as taking a look at draft-proofing and other heat-retaining hacks. It goes without saying that having an efficient boiler that’s in good working order is central to all of this, as it generates the heat we’re trying to retain. If you need to look into boiler replacement, you’ll find everything you need to know here, including finance and funding opportunities.

Floor-centric heat hacks

You might want to consider fitting a carpet – with a good quality underlay – or buying a large rug to cover your floor. It might not sound like a lot, but it certainly makes a difference. Don’t forget to seal any gaps between your skirting boards to prevent drafts (a tube of sealant will do the trick).

Cavity wall insulation

Around 35% of the heat your home generates will escape through the walls, so it really pays to insulate this part of your house. There are several approaches to wall insulation, depending on the type of building you live in.

Houses started being built with cavity walls in the 1930s, but it wasn’t until 1985 that new homes built with cavity walls had insulation fitted as a default. As you’d imagine, this gap (the time gap and the cavity) means plenty of houses have cavity walls but lack the appropriate insulation.

If your external walls are unfilled cavity walls, and the cavity is at least 50mm wide and free from rubble, your home is likely suitable for this type of wall insulation. Your installer will inject insulation material into the cavity via small holes drilled into the outer wall. These will be filled in once the insulation is complete, which should take between 2-4 hours. It won’t affect the appearance of your home at all and can save you up to £480 per year on your energy bills.

Internal wall insulation

Houses built pre-1930 are more likely to have solid walls and, as such, aren’t suitable for cavity wall insulation. But this doesn’t mean you can’t insulate them at all, and internal wall insulation is one of two options available to you if you live in a house with solid walls. It’s carried out by either fitting rigid insulation boards inside your walls, or by adding a new stud wall filled with insulation material.

Generally speaking, internal wall insulation is cheaper than external wall insulation. If you’re planning a big project like replacing a kitchen or bathroom, it’s worth looking into installing internal wall insulation at the same time for convenience, as you don’t need to do every room in your house at the same time. There is one caveat, however. If you have issues with rising or penetration damp, they will probably need to be addressed before internal wall insulation is fitted. Your installer will be able to talk this through with you at your initial consultation if you have any concerns.

External wall insulation

External wall insulation is one of the most efficient insulation measures. It can save you £255 per year on your energy bills and help to ensure the longevity of the building by protecting the brickwork. Plus, it has a life expectancy of at least 30 years. External wall insulation involves fixing a layer of insulation to an existing wall and finishing it with render or an exterior cladding system.

Because it changes the external appearance of your property, you may need to get planning permission from your local authority before any work can begin. If your home is a listed building or located within a conservation area, it may not be suitable for this type of insulation.

One of the additional bonuses of external wall insulation is its ability to reduce condensation on internal walls, thus preventing damp.

Draught-proofing measures

Remember to tackle draughts around the house. Key areas to consider on the ground floor are fireplaces – and you can buy removable draught excluders that fit into the chimney flue to prevent draughts when it’s not in use. For windows, you can purchase draught-proofing strips that fill the gap between the window and the frame. Meanwhile, external doors can be tackled by addressing each area that could allow air to pass through with keyhole covers, letterbox flaps, brush draught excluders for the bottoms of doors and foam strips for the edges.


One of the newest mechanisms the government has put in place to assist you and your home in reaching your objective of becoming 100% carbon neutral is the ECO4 initiative. Grants are available under the ECO4 programme to finance energy-efficient house improvements that lower emissions, electricity use, and energy costs. These incentives cover the cost of installing loft or cavity wall systems, new boilers, and other energy-efficient upgrades with the main goal of lowering fuel poverty and energy expenses. If you’re looking to keep the insulation buying and process cheap to prepare for the weather this winter, consider looking into whether you qualify for this government grant.


The second greatly topical government funded scheme, formerly known as Eco4 Plus, is the GBIS (Green Homes and Buildings Initiative Scheme). It is now undergoing its final parliamentary review and is set to run from 2023 to 2026 with a total budget of £1 billion. This programme aims to enhance around 300,000 homes across Great Britain, potentially saving those of you who are eligible an average of £300-400 annually. GBIS targets two key groups: the ‘low-income group,’ which includes households living in energy-inefficient homes and facing challenging circumstances, and the ‘general group’ in homes with moderate energy ratings. The eligible measures that you can equip your house with this winter include cavity wall and solid wall insulation, loft and roof insulation, underfloor and solid floor insulation, and much more. You can access one insulation measure, and owner-occupied low-income households may also receive heating controls.

If you’re not sure which type of insulation you need, give us a call on 0191 284 24 24 and a member of our team will talk you through your options. Remember to check back on our website for part two of this blog series.

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