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Insulating your UK home: The ultimate Guide

Mikael Kristianslund

Man with head lamp insulating a loft
June 27, 2023

This guide will delve into the world of insulation and look at costs, types and their benefits.

The benefits of insulation

Insulation is a key component in enhancing the comfort, efficiency, and value of your home. It offers a range of benefits that go beyond just energy savings.

Firstly, insulation helps to create a more comfortable living environment by regulating your home's temperature, reducing chilly drafts in the winter and overheated rooms in the summer. This improved comfort is one of the most immediate and noticeable benefits of insulation.

Secondly, it can increase the value of your property. Energy efficiency is increasingly becoming an important factor to many people looking for a home in the UK. A house that is well insulated can be a huge advantage when trying to sell it.

Thirdly, it can contribute to a quieter home by reducing noise transmission, both within your home and from outside. This can significantly improve your quality of life, especially if you live in a busy urban area or have noisy neighbours.

Furthermore, insulation can improve living conditions. It prevents damp and condensation, which can stop mould from growing and protect you from health issues.

It plays a crucial role in reducing your home's carbon footprint. This contributes to the fight against climate change and a more sustainable future.

How much does it cost and how much can you save?

The cost of insulating your home varies according to several factors, including the size of your home, the insulation material used, and the specific areas you're insulating. On average, costs can range from £590 for loft insulation to £15,000 for solid wall insulation.

Homes that are properly insulated can see a reduction in heating and cooling costs by up to 45% compared to those lacking insulation. That's a significant decrease in both energy consumption and your utility bills!

Example 1: Insulating an uninsulated loft

Example 2: Adding solid wall insulation

Is there such a thing as too much insulation?

While it's crucial to ensure your home is adequately insulated, it's equally important not to overdo it. Excessive insulation can restrict airflow, which can lead to moisture retention and potential mould growth. Balance is key.

Therefore, it's vital to consider insulation as part of a broader strategy for improving your home's energy efficiency. A professional energy auditor, equipped with a comprehensive, holistic view of home energy use, can assess your home and guide you in achieving this balance.

Moreover, insulation should ideally go hand in hand with an upgraded HVAC or air system in your home. These two aspects of your home function symbiotically - a well-insulated home reduces the load on your HVAC system, while an efficient HVAC system helps maintain optimal indoor temperature and air quality.

Should all walls in your home be insulated?

Absolutely! For effective energy conservation, all walls in your home should be insulated, including party walls in semi-detached or terraced houses. Leaving any walls uninsulated can lead to heat loss, undermining your energy efficiency efforts and causing your home to lose its much-needed warmth.

Insulating a newer house: is it worth it?

The short, somewhat boring answer is: it depends. Despite popular belief, it's not only older homes that can benefit from insulation. Some newer homes, depending on their age and construction, may not have adequate insulation. This can lead to energy inefficiency and unnecessarily high energy bills.

While these newer homes might not require as extensive retrofitting, any investment in boosting insulation can result in substantial long-term energy savings, making it a smart move. Not sure about the insulation status of your home? Use our home energy assessment tool to determine if your home could benefit from further insulation.

Is spray foam insulation safe?

Recent news suggests that improperly installed spray foam insulation, leading to potential condensation issues. This can complicate the process of remortgaging or selling homes. However, when done by professionals who know what type of insulation is best for your home and correctly installed, spray foam insulation is generally safe. We recommend using a member of the National Insulation Installers and making sure you request and keep all paperwork.

Types of insulation and their benefits

  • Roof Insulation: Acting as a protective barrier, roof insulation minimises heat loss, helping maintain comfortable temperatures regardless of the season. Given that a quarter of heat is lost through the roof in an uninsulated home, it's essential to tackle this area.
  • Cavity Wall Insulation: Cavity wall insulation, often composed of polystyrene beads or mineral wool, fills the gap between the brickwork layers in your walls. This form of insulation is ideal for homes with unfilled cavity walls and can help stop around a third of heat loss. Start here, as wall insulation can deliver significant energy savings and reduce heating bills.
  • Suspended Floor Insulation: This insulation goes under your floorboards, reducing heat loss and drafts from below. While not the first area to insulate, it's a beneficial addition, especially for homes with wooden floors that can leak heat.
  • Solid Floor Insulation: Applied over a concrete floor, this insulation improves thermal performance. While it may not be the first priority, solid floor insulation can be considered during major refurbishments or new builds.
  • Party Wall Insulation: Party wall insulation, used in the walls separating semi-detached or terraced homes, is a good option to consider after addressing your primary heat loss areas like roofs and walls. It minimises heat loss through shared walls and also reduces sound transmission.
  • Internal or External Wall Insulation: Depending on your home's design and needs, insulation can be placed either inside or outside of your exterior walls. This measure should be considered if cavity wall insulation is not suitable for your home.
  • Loft Insulation: Especially cost-effective for accessible, unused loft spaces, loft insulation significantly reduces heat loss through your roof. After insulating your walls, look upwards to your loft as the next significant area for heat loss.
  • Room-in-roof Insulation: Room-in-roof insulation is tailored for rooms constructed within the roof, such as attic rooms. It insulates the walls and ceilings of these rooms, thereby limiting heat loss. If you're utilising your attic space as a living area, this should be a priority.

In conclusion, start with your walls and roof, then consider your floors and any unique features of your home, like a room-in-roof, for a comprehensive and effective insulation strategy.

Grants for insulation in the UK

There are five major grants available throughout the UK offering financial assistance for those looking to install home insulation. These are:

  • The Energy Company Obligation (ECO4) Scheme - Grants up to £14,000 are available for individuals who meet certain benefits criteria.
  • The Great British Insulation Scheme - This scheme offers up to 75% of the costs for anyone living in a property with an EPC rating of D-G and within council tax bands A-D in England and A-E in Scotland and Wales.
  • Welsh Government Warm Homes Nest Scheme - Provides free improvements to home efficiency for those who meet certain benefits criteria.
  • Home Energy Scotland - Grants of up to £5,000 are available for residents in Scotland over 16 years old.
  • Home Upgrade Grant (HUG) - Offers up to 100% of the costs for low-income, off-gas grid homes with an EPC rating of D, E, F, or G.

Each of these grants can help cover the cost of insulation and make your home more energy-efficient.

Conclusion

Investing in proper insulation is not just about saving on your energy bill. It's also a way to enhance comfort in your home, increase property value and reduce carbon emissions. Whether you're in the process of building a new home or looking to improve an existing one, remember: insulation is a key element in creating a comfortable, efficient, and environmentally friendly living space.

Ready to transform your home's energy efficiency?