Over the past few years greater awareness of the need to insulate your home has increased and people are generally taking steps to improve the thermal efficiency of their property. In most cases this may take the form of installing loft insulation and double glazing.
In this blog we will look at the need to insulate your property and the outcome of poor insulation, we will also look at how to retrofit your property with increased insulation levels.
What is insulation?
It is common for people to think that insulation will generate heat but this is not true, insulation without a heat source is useless. This is because insulation acts to contain heat within the insulated space and without a heat source, over time temperatures inside and outside will equalise meaning that vacant unheated properties will be cold regardless of insulation levels. The below image shows a scenario with an uninsulated brick wall.
In this instance heat within the property is warming up the wall which is then escaping outside, the wall is not great at insulating the property and so the barrier is not enough to keep in much of the heat within the property.
In the next image insulation has been installed on the inside face of the wall. This is a much better barrier and so insulates the property better and less heat is escaping.
In the same way that a coat will contain your body heat and therefore keep you warm, insulation around the property will contain the heat therein. The thicker coat the slower the loss of heat will be, in the same way that thick insulation around a property will mean that heat is lost more slowly and the internal temperature will be warmer.
It is very important that effective insulation is provided in a property otherwise heating costs will increase and ultimately during periods of cold it may not be possible to warm a property to a comfortable level. Effective insulation means that it is thick enough or indeed in more modern examples reflects enough heat back but also that its coverage is uniform. For example if only a small area of the wall is insulated heat will be lost from the un-insulated areas of the same wall.
Insulating a house effectively is just part of keeping a house warm, there must also be just the right amount of ventilation and heating. Too much ventilation and the house will become cold as heat escapes in the air through leaky doors/windows, too little ventilation and moisture can build up in the air causing condensation.
What types of insulation are there?
Perhaps the most common form of insulation is glass or mineral fibre which comes in rolls and is normally laid on a loft floor. An example of this is below. This type of fibre insulation is made up of millions of fibres that are bound together in a texture that traps air pockets. The greater the surface area of an insulator, the better it is at insulating as all the heat is trapped and cannot permeate the material.
The Energy Saving Trust suggests that up to 25% of heat is lost through a roof if it is not insulated : http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/home-insulation/roof-and-loft. It is recommended that loft insulation is laid to 270mm in thickness, totally covering the floor space. Care must be taken if you install this fibre insulation as you will not be able to see the ceiling joists and could fall through the ceiling below, which will not be able to take your weight.
Other common forms of insulation are rigid foam or PUR/PIR insulation such as Celotex or Kingspan. This is normally cut to fit when on site or can be laid in boards over a flat roof in some circumstances. An example video can be seen below:
A modern form of insulating a home is a multi foil quilt, essentially a number of layers of foil with insulating fibres between. This is a very effective means of insulating a property without taking up large amounts of space as PUR or PIR insulation does. An image of this can be seen below. The insulation can be only 2 – 3 cm thick and provide similar levels of insulation as compared to rigid insulation much thicker.
As technology improves, other methods of insulating a home have been developed such as ‘Aero Therm’ a 1mm thick layer which is applied like a plaster. This claims to reflect heat rather than act as an insulator, sending heat back into the room and so acting to retain heat. More information can be found here: https://www.aerotherm.co.com/
How to retro-fit insulation:
Insulating a home can be difficult but the benefits can be great. As heating costs go up, insulating a property will mean that saving that heat will be a much more attractive proposition. Careful consideration will need to be given to the Building Regulations and a decision will need to be made as to the location and type of insulation you wish to install. Approved Document L: Conservation of Fuel and Power is a comprehensive guide and must be complied with in all new dwellings but also in certain circumstances in existing dwellings such as when conversions are undertaken. The document can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/conserv….
Fibre insulation within a loft may cost around £300 but you will see that paid back to you after two years with a reduction in heating costs, approximately. Other forms of insulation can be more expensive and so they will take longer to pay for themselves, however there are other benefits such as a reduction in condensation occurring on the walls (in most instances).
For further information, give The Hopps Partnership a call and we can help you decide which form of insulation is right for your property.