Best insulation tips for 2012
In the autumn of 2010 the block of flats in which I live (I’m not posh enough to live in an apartment) had cavity wall insulation installed. What followed a few months later was one of the coldest winters the UK had suffered in recent years, and certainly one of the coldest I could remember. However it was the warmest winter I had ever experienced in the flat. Lesson learnt: Cavity wall insulation works. Wherever I live from here on, getting cavity wall insulation shall be on the ‘to do’ list of the new place if it hasn’t already got it.
Knowing the effect that such a relatively simple modification has had on my own home has got me wondering what other insulation options are available, be it at the requirement of a professional installation, or something that can be done by an enthusiastic DIY-er or just someone with a bit of sense and some time. Below are several options I’ve found to help make your home warmer, cosier, and ultimately cheaper to run.
Cavity wall insulation
I may as well start here as I’ve already mentioned it. Most homes built after 1920 have a gap between the outer and inner layer of bricks, and filling this with insulation (which can vary from foam to tiny plastic balls) can improve the energy efficiency of a home enormously, and could save as much as £135 on annual energy bills.
Cavity wall insulation can cost several hundred pounds but there are grants available. The Energy Savings Trust (EST) has plenty of information on getting a grant that could save you a lot of money helping to get your home insulated.
I can’t mention the sides of a home without mentioning the top. In the same way that a human body loses a lot of heat through the head, a house loses a lot through the roof. While I wouldn’t suggest dropping a large woolly hat on your roof, you can line the loft with insulation. The EST estimates that £175 could be saved through insulating a loft. Combine that with cavity wall insulation and you could be looking at savings of £310!
That’s 31 good bottles of red wine you could get, and they’ll taste great because the room temperature they should be drunk at will be a cosy one.
Double – or even triple - glazing is another great way to stop heat escaping your home. By adding an insulating layer of…well, nothing (the gap between the panes of glass is a vacuum) less heat escapes through the thinnest area between inside and outside your home.
If you have an older boiler that stores hot water rather than the newer ones that heat more or less on demand, then make sure it is insulated as well. Think how much warmer you feel when wrapped in a duvet – all that heat comes from you. Apply the same logic to your boiler and you won’t have to spend as much money in heating your water and keeping it hot.
And speaking of you: if you do feel the cold, dress warmly. Putting on a jumper and wearing thicker socks when the weather gets cold can make a big difference to how warm you feel. A human body generates a lot of heat on its own. Dressing appropriately, even when plodding about in your own home, can make a difference.
Don’t forget the paperwork. Combining insulation with a good deal on gas or electricity could save even more money and the Earth’s dwindling resources. And if you do make any changes to your home you must tell your insurance company to make sure that your buildings and contents insurance policy, or policies, are up-to-date and valid.