Tuesday, 26 October 2010
A Quick Guide to...Home Insulation
Is your home leaking money? Without proper insulation, as much as 50% of your heating could be disappearing straight through your walls and roof. But it's easy to put right. For instance, if every UK household who could, fitted loft insulation to a thickness of 270mm, it would save enough energy to heat 750,000 homes for a year!
Modern, energy-efficient insulation products can reduce an average household heating bill by as much as £180 - £220 per year.
Most homes have at least some insulation in the loft – but is it working as well as it should? Insulation is one of the most important things you can do to make your home more energy efficient. To be effective, standard loft insulation needs to be at least 270mm (10 inches) thick. Plus it keeps your home warm in the winter and cooler in the summer. If your loft insulation is quite old, or if you've compressed it under boarding, that may well make it less effective. However, there is a variety of modern materials, and innovative and user-friendly products to choose from.
More and more people are boarding over their lofts – either for storage or to convert them into extra living space. But, if your joists are less than 270mm deep (which most are), boarding them over will compress any existing insulation, making it less effective. One solution is to use a multi-foil insulating product. This has a silver finish, which reflects radiant heat. Although more expensive than conventional insulation, it's far more efficient, generating the same level of insulation in less space.
SPACE BOARD INSULATION
Space Board enables boarded lofts to provide the same energy savings as lofts insulated with glass wool. Using two layers of Space Board over existing loft boards will create space and the required insulation level (more at www.space-insulation.com)
ThermaWrap's Top-up Quilt is a very flexible, easy-to-fit, multi-layer insulation that effectively deals with all forms of heat loss. Although it is just 15mm thick, it is equivalent to 100mm of glass wool. ThermaWrap's SuperQuilt is an easy-fit multi-foil pitch roof insulation which is lightweight, and flexible. Ideal for loft conversions it is equivalent to 270mm of glass wool in a single layer (find out more at www.thermawrap.co.uk)
CHOOSING THE RIGHT INSULATION
ECO WOOL INSULATION
Eco-Wool insulation is made from 85% recycled plastic bottles and is totally itch free. It is ideal for topping up existing insulation.
NATURAL SHEEP INSULATION
Natural sheep insulation is made using wool from British sheep and takes very little energy to manufacture. It is naturally breathable and able to absorb as well as release moisture - keeping your house warm in the winter can cool in the summer. It is non irritant, clean and easy to use.
NATURAL HEMP INSULATION
Naturally breathable absorbs and releases moisture improving insulation properties it is ideal for topping up insulation the natural way.
Ideal for topping up existing loft insulation. Space Blanket is a revolutionary product, designed specifically for topping up existing loft insulation. It's available in 150mm and 200mm thicknesses, which you can simply lay over your existing insulation to bring it up to an effective thickness. Space Blanket is encapsulated, making it easy and quick to lay: most lofts can be completed in around an hour. As it's incapsulated it is virtually itch free making it clean and easy to lay (learn more at www.knaufinsulation.co.uk)
RAFTER ROLL ROOF INSULATION
If you're converting your loft into living space, the insulation needs to move to rafter level. A quick way to do this is by fitting two layers of Rafter Roll 32 85mm wool between the rafters to give 170mm of insulation – then placing a vapour membrane and plasterboard over the top. Alternatively, if you are not converting your loft but simply wish to make it warmer you can use a single layer of Rafter Roll.
When insulating solid or floating floors, Jabfloor is a versatile solution. It's an expanded polystyrene sheet, in a variety of thicknesses, that can be placed either between or below the joists or suspended timber floor (more info at www.jablite.co.uk)
FILLING THE GAPS
HOW IT WORKS?
In most properties, the outer walls consist of two layers, with a gap (or 'cavity') between them. Cavity wall insulation fills that gap - acting like a 'thermos' flask to keep the air in your home naturally warm or cool. In new-build properties or extensions, the easiest way to fit cavity wall insulation is with preformed slabs (like the Crown DriTherm Cavity Slab or Polystyrene Cavity Slab), which fit snugly into the gap between the layers of the outer wall. In existing properties, small holes are drilled in the outer wall, allowing insulation to be injected at high pressures, so that it expands to fill the gap.
As well as keeping your home insulated for temperature cavity slabs provide a layer of sound-proofing and act as a fire retardant.
CAVITY WALL INSULATION
Around six million homes in the UK and Republic of Ireland have cavity wall insulation. It's quick, clean and comparatively inexpensive - and it can save you around £90 a year on your heating bills.