Why proper ventilation is integral to home insulation - thumbnail image

Why proper ventilation is integral to home insulation

The UK is renowned for a lot of things, but well-insulated housing is not one of them. According to a recent report, 9.6 million UK households are living in heat-leaking, poorly insulated homes, which is not only bad for health but also for the environment (England’s homes are said to produce more carbon emissions every year than is produced by all of the country’s cars). Homeowners seeking to retrofit their properties with insulation are helping to fix this problem, but should be wary of poor installation, which can cause further problems. In this blog post, we explain why ventilation is integral to home insulation and how to find an installation company that understands its importance.

Understanding insulation

Many households are motivated to invest in insulation because they know it keeps the heat they pay to generate inside their home. This is true, but the installation process isn’t as straightforward as simply sealing everything up. In fact, this is where many people go wrong. Insulating a home calls for a deep understanding of a number of processes including the movement of heat, the role of humidity and the creation of dampness. Ventilation plays an important role in these processes and, therefore, in the success of home insulation projects. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the loft, where insulation is essential (a quarter of heat is lost through the roof in an uninsulated home).

Unintended consequences

Without considering how heat moves through a house and factoring adequate ventilation into the solution, a loft insulation project can cause a series of unintended consequences, which may take several months to appear. A common complaint is the emergence of damp. If ventilation is not provided, a loft can become humid, creating condensation, which can find its way into the fabric of a building, tending to settle around cold spots. Homeowners may notice light brown patches appearing on the ceilings of rooms below their loft space. Sometimes the insulation material itself becomes wet. These are all signs of either incorrectly installed insulation or a lack of ventilation, usually the latter.

Quality and compliance

In 2019, the British Standards Institute (BSI) published a document called PAS 2035, designed to reduce defects and unintended consequences and to increase accountability and industry standards. PAS 2035 was published after systemic failures and poor standards in retrofit delivery were uncovered by a review. Poor ventilation was one of the main causes of these failures, which tended to result in problems such as damp, mould and condensation, all of which cost money to fix. Amongst the core principles underpinning PAS 2035 is ‘Build Tight, Ventilate Right’, which emphasises that making buildings airtight can be counterproductive is ventilation is inadequate.

Compliance with PAS 2035 is a requirement for retrofit programmes that are publicly funded. This includes, for example, works undertaken under the government’s HUG and ECO schemes. However, it is not obligatory for privately funded projects, which is why some homeowners can find themselves with installation partners that don’t have the training, understanding, and expertise to meet these standards. To reduce this risk, consumers can look for TrustMark-registered businesses. These businesses must comply with a Code of Conduct, a Code of Practice, and a Customer Charter (the Code of Practice adopted by TrustMark is PAS 2035, as well as *PAS 2030 (2019) for installers).

Choosing an installer

When choosing a company to install your home’s insulation, you should always feel comfortable asking questions. A good installer will be happy to advise and guide you through your project, explaining why the solution and approach meet your needs and the requirements of your home.

If you’d like to learn more about how Thrift Energy can help you with your insulation project, get in touch today.

*PAS 2035 is linked to PAS 2030:2019, the standard to which all energy efficiency installers must be certified and compliant.

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