Insulation

With homes producing over a quarter of the UK’s carbon emissions, the onus of reducing their carbon footprint has never been greater for householders.

The way a building is constructed, insulated, ventilated and the type of fuel used, all contribute to its carbon emissions. A worrying fact is that for over half of all homes in the UK, the money spent on energy is literally being thrown out of the window due to inadequate levels of insulation.

There are approximately nine million cavity walls and 15 million lofts that require insulation.

Research shows that over two-thirds of people do not realize that 50% of heat is lost through the roof and the cavity walls and a shocking 45% through solid walls alone, putting these insulation measures at the top of the agenda.

Solid Wall Insulation

It is estimated that there are around 7m properties that have solid walls that need insulating.

Improving the thermal efficiency of solid wall properties is therefore an area which has massive potential for the future as there has been little work done to date. More and more individuals are now starting to recognise the advantages of insulating such homes, and there are many cost-effective solutions available.

Solid walls can be insulated either externally or internally and either option will greatly increase comfort, while also reducing the running costs and the associated environmental impact.

For older properties in need of re-rendering or re-pointing (both of which are expensive procedures), external cladding is an alternative solution that will replace the need for this job as well as provide far better thermal performance.

Internal insulation typically consists of either dry lining in the form of flexible thermal linings, laminated insulating plasterboard (known as thermal board) or built-up system using fibrous insulation such as mineral wood held in place using a studwork frame.

Cavity Wall Insulation

Cavity wall insulation is an inexpensive, easy-to-install process that sees the insulation material injected into the cavity between the inner and outer leaves of brickwork of the external wall of a property. There are a number of different insulating materials, but they all work in the same way to cut heat loss.

Cavity wall insulation work is carried out according to guidance laid down by the Cavity Insulation Guarantee Agency (CIGA) and workmanship and materials are covered by the independent 25 years CIGA Guarantee to provide homeowners with reassurance and peace of mind. See www.ciga.co.uk for details. 

Loft Insulation

With as much as a third of heating costs escaping through the roof, loft insulation is a very effective way of reducing heating bills.

While most UK homes already have some degree of loft insulation installed, for the majority this is inadequate and should be topped up to today’s standards - 270mm for glass wool, 250mm for rock wool, or 220mm for cellulose.

Loft insulation is not an easy task and should be carried out by experts – properly trained, experienced NIA members to avoid technical risks. For example, a high standard can only be achieved by insulating across the top of the ceiling joists as well as between them and including the loft hatch. Pipes and tanks also need to be insulated to avoid freezing and other key considerations include ventilation to avoid condensation and safety aspects of electrical wiring and fittings.

Draught Proofing

One of the most inexpensive and effective energy efficiency measures for a home – yet often overlooked – is draught proofing. In fact only a quarter of all dwellings in the UK are adequately draught proofed.

Regardless of weather conditions expensive heat will leak through ill fitting doors, windows and any unsealed gaps in the property. There are several types of materials available to help prevent air leakage, which include: brushes, sealants and extruded strips of profiled foam and rubber. Good quality draught proofing materials will carry the BS 7386:1997 approval mark and will not only prevent expensive heat loss and save energy, but will also increase comfort levels whilst guarding against ingress of bad weather leading to the damage of internal decoration.

A large proportion of householders are unsure about what insulation measures they may already have installed in their home or whether it reaches the recommended standards. NIA approved installers provide free home surveys and are experienced to recommend the most suitable and practical insulation options for each individual property. They also have access to information regarding grants and subsidies to help make the cost of insulating homes even more affordable and accessible to all. The NIA recommends contacting one of its installer members as they are not only trained to the highest standards but also governed by a strict Code of Professional Practice.

The National Insulation Association represents over 90% of the UK’s home insulation industry, including installers and manufacturers. The NIA and its members are committed to providing a high quality, value for money service to householders, housing managers and developers. For more information, visit the website at www.nationalinsulationassociation.org.uk

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