How to take a holistic, whole-house approach to insulation: part two
Bonfire night fireworks are behind us and on the horizon – like a Coca Cola truck emblazoned with fairy lights – we can see the promise of Christmas. It’s a strange time of year and it’s also a cold one, as the nights draw in and the mercury drops by several degrees. Many of us will have relented by now and turned on the central heating. But, with the UK ‘boasting’ some of the leakiest housing stock in the developed world, much of that energy will go to waste without effective insulation.
In this, the second instalment of our two-part blog series on whole-house insulation, we look at the measures you can take to keep the heat you pay to generate inside your home. While part one focused on the bottom of the house, part two turns to the top, looking at lofts, roofs and windows. So get that pumpkin spiced at the ready, it’s time to get cozy…
A recent study from the Resolution Foundation revealed that around 20% of UK homes have roofs classified as ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ efficiency. Luckily, there are several ways of insulating your roof or roof space. If you’ve got a converted loft space (i.e. you’ve turned it into a room) or are considering a conversion, then room in roof insulation is a great choice. It can prevent up to 25% of your heat escaping and save up to £580 per year on energy bills. Most installations can be completed within a day and, with a life expectancy of 40 years, that insulation isn’t going anywhere anytime soon!
Room in roof insulation works by trapping valuable heat within your home by creating a blanket effect. It is usually installed in the gaps between the joists and behind the walls of the room. A well-insulated roof provides year-round comfort, energy savings, and protects the building structure. Proper installation is key to achieving optimal performance, however, so always have a full and frank discussion with potential installers before commissioning work – and be sure to check their credentials.
Last year, a poll of 2,000 homeowners with lofts found that 26% have no idea what’s up there! We know what you don’t want to find: spiders, pitch-black darkness or scary Victorian-era dolls with their heads fixed on the entry hatch. But what you definitely do want to see is insulation. If your loft space is easily accessible and has no damp or condensation problems then you’re likely to be a prime candidate for loft insulation, which lowers your bills, improves your home’s EPC rating and can also provide relief from noise pollution. Plus, it only takes around two hours to install (based on an average three-bed house), so it won’t disrupt your day.
Common loft insulation materials in the UK include mineral wool and cellulose, which are usually used to cover the entire loft floor, including between and over the joists (any gaps reduce their effectiveness). To prevent problems, good ventilation is required, but your installer will be able to run over this – and other key considerations – with you.
Flat roofing insulation
Whether you have a flat roof across your whole building or only as part of an extension, it pays to limit heat loss through flat roofing insulation. It’s a process usually carried out from above with installers placing rigid insulation boards either on top of the existing weather proofing or directly on top of the timber roof surface. A new weather proof layer is then installed on top of the insulation to protect it from water ingress. It is not typically a job that the average homeowner could carry out themselves, as it does rely on specialist equipment and knowledge, so it’s worth finding a reputable installer to do it for you. There are several options for the insulation and weatherproofing materials, and these should be discussed with you before any work begins.
Don’t forget to tackle pesky draughts around the house, including windows. Heat is often lost through gaps around window frames, so it’s important to make sure they’re well-sealed. You can use rubber or brush strips around the edges to block drafts. Fitting a pair of thick or thermal-lined curtains will also provide an additional layer of insulation to retain warmth inside your home. If windows are very old, replacing them entirely with modern double or triple glazed units (or secondary glazing, if your house is listed) will maximise energy savings.
Getting help to make your home energy efficient
The government has been actively assisting households with low energy efficiency in enhancing their energy efficiency through the provision of financial support for home improvement initiatives. Two primary programs are in place for this purpose: the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme, tailored for those with limited incomes, and the newly introduced Great British Insulation Scheme, which is accessible to an additional 400,000 households.
The government has recently launched an online tool for eligibility verification, allowing you to determine if you qualify for energy-efficiency improvements under the Great British Insulation Scheme for your home.
Under the Great British Insulation Scheme, individuals who meet the specified criteria may qualify for complimentary insulation. However, it’s important to note that only one type of insulation can be installed for free, such as either cavity wall insulation or loft insulation, but not both. There may also be a requirement to contribute a portion of the costs, though you will be informed of this before any work is authorised. To be eligible for this program, you must satisfy ALL of the following conditions:
- You either own your own home or are a tenant (whether renting privately or from a housing association).
- Your home falls within council tax bands A to D in England or A to E in Scotland and Wales.
- You can conveniently verify your home’s council tax band on the Government’s official website.
- Your home possesses an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of D or lower.
To find out if you qualify visit: Apply for support from the Great British Insulation Scheme – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
If you reside in England and meet specific criteria, you also have the opportunity to qualify for the HUG2, a government-funded initiative designed to support low-income households. This program aims to enhance energy efficiency (EPC Rating) and facilitate the transition to renewable energy sources.
Running from April 2023 to March 2025, the Home Upgrade Grant Phase 2 (HUG2) is accessible in 45 local authorities across England. Through HUG2, you can receive financial assistance that covers up to 100% of the expenses associated with installing solar panels on your roof.
E.ON, a trusted partner of Thrift, can guide you through the process as can local energy hubs across the UK. This grant can be utilised for various home improvements, including insulation, heat pumps, double glazing, solar panels, and heating controls. Among these options, solar panels (solar PV) stand out as a popular and environmentally friendly choice, generating clean and cost-free electricity for your home. Don’t miss the opportunity to enhance your home’s sustainability.
Our team can talk you through your options and even apply for funding on your behalf, so get in touch if you’d like to insulate your home and lower your energy bills.