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Last updated: 28 November 2016

Insulation - Why Is It Important?

The first step to going green is to check your home's insulation.

Whether you are considering investing in solar panels, solar water heating, heat pumps or any other green source of energy for your home, the first step you should take is to improve your home’s insulation. This will ensure that you maximize the use of natural resources and don’t waste energy. If you skip this step, you will end up spending a lot of money buying a very powerful system to cover the energy needs of a badly insulated house.

Insulation is one of the most efficient ways to save energy at home since it keeps it warm in the winter and cool in the summer. In fact, the Energy Saving Trust estimates that in one year a typical three-bedroom semi-detached house can save up to £310 on energy bills by installing loft and cavity wall insulation.

This guide will help you understand the importance of home insulation as well as introducing you to the different measures you can choose from to improve your home’s insulation and make it as energy efficient as it can be.

Windowinsulation

What Is Home Insulation?

Insulation will help you keep the desired temperature in your house all year round, protecting it against cold in winter and excess heat in summer. Insulation is also useful to reduce noise pollution. A well insulated house is very energy efficient and will need very little additional heating and cooling.

How much money you will save by insulating your home will depend on different factors like the type of insulation and the size of your house. Moreover, depending on how old your house is, you will need to incorporate more or less insulation measures. The good thing is that you generally don’t need any planning permission for fitting insulation measures and they will eventually pay back so it is a wise investment.

Usually modern houses are built to very good insulation standards, but old houses in the UK need a lot of work to be done. In the last case, there are probably many options to improve the energy efficiency of your house. When too cold, heat can be lost in all directions, so you should think of integral insulation to keep the heat in your house.

You can choose to insulate your roof, floors, walls, windows and doors. The most important thing is the walls, since for a typical house the walls will lose around 30 to 40 per cent of heat. The roof comes in second place, accounting for approximately 25% of heat loss. Then comes windows and doors with 20% and finally, the floor.

Roofinsulation

What Are Insulators Made of?

There are different materials and qualities, but generally good insulators consist of products that have a structure similar to wool, that trap tiny pockets of air. Fabrics like cotton and hemp are great insulators, which means that having strong curtains will help to have a well-insulated home. Also, wood based products like hardboard and wooden doors are good insulators that will help keep your house warm. There are also spray foam solutions generally polyurethane based. Foam can be either used for roof tiles since it fills gaps, or also the adhesive stips variant can be used around windows and doors. You can also use sealants to stop draughts through cracks and gaps.

Wallinsulation

What Types of Insulation Are There?

1. Wall insulation

Depending on the type of wall you have, you can use:

a) Cavity wall insulation (there is a gap between the inner and outer leaf). Insulator is inserted to the wall through drilling holes which are then refilled with cement.
b) Solid wall insulation (no cavity inside them). If you have solid walls you can choose between internal and external insulation. External insulation typically covers the entire facade of the property while internal is generally applied to inner rooms.

2. Roof insulation

a) Warm loft, insulating immediately under the roof. This is more expensive than cold loft but usually is a better insulator.
b) Cold loft, insulating immediately above the ceiling of the top storey.

3. Window and door insulation

Make sure you have double (or triple) glazed windows and doors! This is, having at least two panels of glass some millimeters apart instead of a single glass. Double glazing will also protect you from outer noise, keeping your home warm and silent!

4. Floor insulation

This might be very expensive, make sure if you really need it depending on the type of floor you have. Usually modern houses have insulators under the concrete floor surface, but older houses with suspended floors will need some investment. One very accessible alternative for floor insulation is placing good rugs all around. This will also give you a nice feeling when walking!

What Is the Next Step?

Once you have checked and optimized your home’s insulation, you are ready to give your home’s energy efficiency the final touch! You can heat your house and make your own electricity by applying some green energy systems that will eventually pay for themselves. This way you will reduce your household’s carbon footprint and also, in the long term, save a lot of money!

There are many government incentives regarding green energy for domestic use, either if you want to install solar panels, solar water heating systems, or heat pumps. You can get free and no-obligation quotes by filling a form on GreenMatch.co.uk. This will make your research a lot easier!