A guide to home insulation
Insulation is essentially nothing else than a barrier between your home and the outdoors. In summer, it plays a major role in reflecting heat and retaining cool air inside your home. During the winter months, insulation can help to reduce condensation build-up and aid in keeping your home warm and dry.
Fitting each part of your home with the right insulation is the best way to provide year-round comfort. It’ll also save you plenty of energy and money. Insulation prevents the loss of heated air, which means that less energy is required to maintain your ideal room temperature. The same is true in summer, when cooling your home can become expensive.
Good insulation can help keep your home at a comfortable temperature throughout the year, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, shrinking your carbon footprint and putting more money in your pocket.
The different types of insulation
The majority of a home’s floors, walls and lofts are insulated with one of these types of insulation:
- Loose-fill: Made from a combination of cork, wool, fibre and vermiculite, loose-fill insulation is usually placed between the beams of loft roofs. Due to the flexibility of loose-fill insulation, it’s often used to insulate sharp corners, irregular joist segments, and other partitions that can’t be insulated with matting or other materials.
- Matting: The most common insulation found in lofts, floors and walls, matting is typically made with mineral wool. It comes in rolls of varying thickness and flexibility.
- Blown insulation: Blown insulation is installed using special equipment that can blow and seal the loose materials to a certain depth. It’s made with a combination of mineral wool and fire-resistant cellulose fibre. Blown insulation can adhere to surfaces or stay as a loose fibre, making it a versatile choice for insulating a variety of walls and surfaces.
- Insulation boards: The best insulation for walls, floors and roofs – insulation boards are cut from stiff foam plastics and can be scaled to fit any surface. They require a professional to install, but provide exceptional heat insulation.
How to choose insulation
If you plan on installing your own home insulation, you’ll need to pick the best insulation for each area.
In general, thicker insulation means you’ll lose less heat, and thereby save more money. Finding the right level of thickness and warmth depends on certain factors, such as how exposed each part of your home is, which floor needs to be insulated and whether it’s colder or warmer in the region you live.
That being said, not all insulation is created equal. Sometimes thinner insulation can perform better than its thicker counterpart. You’ll be able to tell how each insulation performs by checking its K-value, which denotes its level of thermal conductivity. Materials with lower K-values conduct heat slower and therefore allow less heat to pass through your walls. A thin layer of insulation with a low K-value is a better insulator than thicker insulation with a high K-value, something to bear in mind when choosing your home insulation.
The benefits of loft insulation are tremendous. Loft insulation prevents up to 25% of the heat in your home from leaking outside. It’s also an effective way to cut utility bills, saving the average homeowner around £200 a year on heating costs, meaning that good loft insulation pays for itself fairly quickly.
It comes in a variety of materials and is placed between the joists of the loft space. It’s also simple enough to install yourself, assuming the loft is easy to access. Most homes in the UK use glass fibre insulation, which can last up to 40 years, for their loft areas.
Cavity walls feature a small space between both sides of the wall. It’s harder for heat to pass through the cavity, especially if cavity wall insulation is pumped through the wall to fill up the empty space.
Solid walls lose twice as much heat as cavity walls, making insulation a top priority if you want to increase the amount of money saved on heating your home. They can be insulated from the inside or the outside.
The potential savings when using cavity wall insulation depends on the size of your home. Homeowners can expect to save anywhere between £120 and £425 on their energy bill per year.
Floor insulation is primarily used to insulate the ground floor of any home. Insulating your floor can also take care of any draughts that seep through floorboards, reducing the overall chill of your home and floor. Saving you up to £65 a year on energy, it’s well worth investing in some floor insulation.
How much money can I save with insulation?
With the proper insulation installed in your home, you could save yourself as much as £700 a year. Insulation reduces heat loss, helps cut utility bills, and makes you less likely to rely on standard home heating and cooling solutions. Not only will you be saving money, you’ll be much more comfortable in your home too!