A high level of insulation in floors, walls and lofts is the most effective way to reduce energy requirements in the home. There are many grants available to help to cover the cost of insulation improvements (see below). Areas of the house to think about are:
Hot water tank: Fitting an insulating jacket around the hot water tank is relatively easy and cheap and will immediately start to save energy and money. Pre-cut jackets cost from around £5 to £15 and can pay for themselves within a year as they save up to 45% of heat losses. Touch your hot water tank; if it feels warm it needs more insulation.
Loft: The loft is the easiest and most cost effective place to start with insulation improvements. It is now recommended to have 20cm of insulating material in our lofts, or more if there is space. Grants are available for loft insulation, and if you are over 70, on benefits or on a low income you should be able to get free insulation.
Walls: If you have cavity walls then this is relatively easy, as you can get them filled with insulation. If you don’t have cavity walls, options include cladding or creating your own cavity with internal plasterboard. There are also highly efficient, thin, rigid foam sheets, some of which are already bonded to plasterboard. These will help limit the amount of internal space lost.iency of the home, good insulation also helps with sound-proofing so is worth considering for partition walls as well as exterior walls. Grants are available for cavity wall insulation, and if you are over 70, on benefits or on a low income you should be able to get free insulation.
Windows and Doors: If you don’t already have double glazing then consider installing it. If you can’t have double glazing, because planning legislation doesn’t allow, then you could consider secondary glazing on the interior side instead. When purchasing any glazing, opt for wooden frames rather than UPVC frames; they are better for the environment and easier to repair. When considering spending money on windows, however, do be aware that a typical house only loses 10% of total energy through the windows, compared with around 60% through the walls and roof.
Insulation materials themselves vary in their sustainability. For example, natural alternatives such as WarmCel (recycled newspaper) require less energy in their production than do artificial materials such as fibreglass or rockwool. Natural insulation materials are also easier to dispose of at the end of their life than their artificial counterparts, can make for healthier home air quality, and can perform better in terms of breathability and moisture capture.
For information and advice on the most appropriate forms of insulation for your home, energy efficiency and on eligibility for grants, try one of the following:
Grants from your fuel provider: Some energy companies offer grants for energy efficiency measures including low energy light bulbs and insulation. Telephone your supplier (number should be on your bills) to find out what they offer.
Energy Saving Trust: This is a non-profit organisation, set up to promote sustainable and efficient use of energy. From their website you can find out about insulation materials as well as other energy saving products.