Updated: 01/09/2022 12:05:56
With poorly insulated homes looking at energy bills of over £6000, it might be worth spending some extra time to ensure your home is as insulated as possible, increasing the effectiveness of your heating and keeping the heat in to reduce the amount of time the heating needs to be on.
Prices and savings in this article are based on the current energy tariffs, so costs and savings are likely to change in the near future. In some cases the effective savings you can make a year will double, triple or be even more!
Roughly one third of all heat loss in a poorly insulated home is through the walls. If your house was built in the 1990s or more recently, the changes are it already has wall insulation to help stave off heat loss. If you have an older house you may not have any wall insulation whatsoever!
Houses built after the 1920s will likely have cavity walls. You can usually tell what wall type your home has by looking at the brickwork.Cavity walls have bricks with an even pattern and all bricks laid lengthways. A cavity wall is essentially two walls with a gap or cavity in between. This space can be filled to increase your home insulation. This is usually done by injecting insulation into the cavity. It is easiest to hire a company to do this for you. They will drill small holes in intervals around the outside of your home before injection. This shouldn't take more than a couple of hours. Installation costs vary from around £400 for a mid-floor flat to £2500 for a detached house. It used to be that on average it would take around 5 years to make back the costs of insulation, but with energy prices on a steep rise, you may be able to gain this back even sooner. Be aware though, demand is likely to be very high so the cost of insulation may also rise. If you have cavity insulation in your home and start to notice mould or damp, be sure to get this inspected and looked at by a professional as this can be a sign of insulation problems in the home.
If your home has a solid wall, the bricks will tend to have an alternating pattern, where you will be able to see the small ends of some of the bricks from the outside. This is a likely indicator that you have a solid exterior wall. In general this process can be quite tricky and expensive. It would be best to get this kind of insulation installed when you are already redecorating or having work done. Internal wall insulation is cheaper than external wall insulation and involves fitting insulation boards to the wall. This is however quite messy. External wall insulation entails fixing a layer of insulation material to the wall before using a render plaster or cladding. This is a great solution to prevent damp, but once again is relatively messy and inconvenient. The cost and savings of internal and external wall insulation can be significantly different to cavity wall insulation so this option requires careful consideration.
Insulating your loft can be a relatively simple task if there is easy access to the area and you aren't already suffering from issues with dampness. One benefit of loft insulation is that it can be installed by you, though care is needed as you don't want to put a foot through the bedroom ceiling! You can purchase rolls of insulation which can be placed between the joists in your attic before a second layer is placed at right angles to cover the joists. Some people lay boards over their joists for access to the loft as a storage space. However, the insulation needs to be over the joists as well as between to ensure the thickness is enough to be effective. You can raise the floor to get around this, but you'll need a gap between the insulation and the floor for ventilation. There are also options available to insulate between and over the rafters instead of the floor, allowing you to keep any boards you might already have in place. This does tend to be significantly more expensive than standard loft insulation.
Loft insulation costs vary but tend to be relatively accessible, especially if you do it yourself. It would only take two to three years to gain your savings back. Again, with the energy cap set to rise again these savings could become even more important.
Many homes will have ground floors with solid concrete underneath. This can have insulation laid on top. If you live in an older home you may have timber floors, which can be insulated by lifting the flooring and laying insulated wool instead. You'd need to make sure you don't block any air bricks in your walls as these are needed for ventilation. Get a professional to pop round and talk through your options. Suspended floor installation can cost up to £2700 and save up to £130 a year. If you'd like a DIY fix, you can try and seal the gaps between floors and skirting boards to reduce draughts in your house.
Draught-proofing your house can be relatively cheap and save you good chunks of money each year. If you can remove draughts from the home, you will feel comfortable with the thermostat at lower temperatures. Draught proofing and sealing your windows can be a great place to start. An open chimney is easy to forget about when not in use, but draught proofing this when you're not using it can save upwards of £60 a year. It may seem counterproductive but your house needs ventilation to prevent damp, so make sure you don't block any extractor fans or vents. Strip insulation is a great buy and can be used on windows and loft hatches. Take a look at your front door, if you notice in the windier months that your letterbox is making a lot of noise, it may be time to take a look. Use a letterbox with a brush and fit insulation strips around any edges.
You may think that the warmth from your water tank is heating the home, but it can be a big drain on your energy bills. Potential heat loss from your hot water tank means that the water inside doesn't hold its warmth as well, meaning that more energy is needed to heat the water back up to temperature when needed. Insulating your hot water tank can be very easy and works just like an insulated coffee mug. If the water inside the tank stays warmer for longer it will take less time and power to heat it back up. You can buy hot water cylinder jackets for less than £20 and they are easy to install. Savings even before the price increases are around £35 a year, which is more than the cost of the hot water tank sleeve! You can also install radiator reflector panels behind your radiators which reflect heat from the radiator back into the room rather than heating the wall.
When buying a new home, it is becoming more important to check the energy efficiency. Read the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), which has to be made available to you by law. This will provide a rating from A-G, estimate energy costs and a list of current existing insulation and heating systems. Be sure to take this into account as insulation costs can leach into your home improvement budget.#advice