Insulating Your House Correctly Is The First Step To A Real Home Improvement

According to a range of official figures, the average house loses about a third of its heat through the walls (33%), a quarter through draughty doors and windows (25%), about another quarter through its roof (27%) and the rest (15%) through the floor. In an age of ever increasing fuel bills, it is wise to first ensure your home is losing and using as little energy as possible. This is possible for the average householder to do themselves or hire a local professional to do at a fairly low cost. Consider this before you even start to look at the solar panel or home energy generation solutions. Indeed some of these factors need to be considered at the same time as other large home improvements such as: fitting a new bathroom or kitchen, as a lot of these improvements can be done at the same time.

* How Is It Measured.

To improve the heat efficiency of a home it is best to start with the insulation. Insulation is measured using an ‘R-Value’. The R-value is a measure of thermal resistance. It is expressed as the thickness of the material divided by the thermal conductivity. The higher the number, the better the building insulation’s effectiveness. Every type of insulation will have an R Value. The higher the better, but the cost and convenience should be taken into consideration to find what is best for you at the current time.

* (1) Insulating the walls.

Insulating the walls is the way of saving the most but depends upon the build of your house. Brick-built houses can be insulated by cavity wall insulation. In the U.K. (at the time of writing) and other parts of Europe, the governments are ‘encouraging’ the energy suppliers to install cavity wall insulation free or with a subsidy. Newer homes generally have insulating panels inserted but older homes can have the material blown through small holes drilled into the walls from outside. Solid walls of walls needing extra insulation can be further insulated by special insulation boards or simply an extra layer of plaster board (2 Inches – about 50 mm) on the inside of the walls – which will require the electric wiring and sockets to be moved out but this is not as difficult or expensive as it sounds.

* (2) Going Through The Roof.

Heat rises through the roof so the loft is not just a place for storing junk but is a key place for stopping rising heat leaving your home. You can either insulate in the ceiling joists (loft floor) or in the roof joists (loft roof). Traditionally the ceiling joists is the area favoured but that means either your loft will become less usable for storing your rubbish or you will have to ‘extend’ your joists as current guidelines recommend about 270 mm thick insulation. The most common loft insulation is mineral wool although sheep’s wool and other recycled materials are also used. Laying blanket or loose insulation is very easy and the average loft takes about 2 hours. The insulation rolls should be the same width as the gap between the joists. Another easy solution is the ‘Space blanket’. Space Blanket is an ‘encapsulated’ glass mineral wool products for use between ceiling joists or on top of existing insulation. It is contained in a part metallised polythene film that reflects heat and makes them extra easy and comfortable to install. Insulating the roof joists is a little more tricky and depends upon what the loft is used for, it has the benefit of allowing you to use the loft as it is ‘heated’ by that escaping heat from below and leaves the floor spaces as usable as before for all your stuff. Insulation laid under the felt roof must have a ventilation gap of 50 mm behind it. Roof insulation has the effect of making the un-insulated parts of the roof coder than before, so increasing the risk of moisture. A vapour barrier (normally a foil coated plaster board is used). There are some installers that are using a rigid foam insulation system that in effect inserts a foam barrier in between the roof joists, a fantastic solution that can be sanded and painted but a little expensive if you are not planning a loft conversation. This solution is installed by spraying the foam into the rafters. It is a little messy but dedicated professional installers can do it with the minimal impact. One more solution could be a multi-layer foil ‘Thinsulex’-like solution which can easily be fitted to the roof rafters, it is best used in conjunction with other methods but can be effective by itself.

* (3) The Old Lag: Lagging.

Where ever your water cylinder is, it is well worth lagging it by fitting a jacket made from fibre insulation. Ensure all cold water pipes and any exposed parts of hot water pipes running through unheated areas are lagged. Insulate the cold water cistern but ensure the area below it is not insulated so that escaping heat can stop it from freezing in severe weather. If you are having a bathroom fitted get the bathroom fitter to check the pipes in the loft and use this as an excuse to get them lagged.

*(4) Window To Your Wallet: Double Glazing Windows.

Window technology has moved on significantly in the last few years and is often a good way to start a house make over. A cheaper way of ensuring your windows are insulated for the minimum of cost is by adding a second sheet of glass or plastic. By trapping an area of air, a 5% reduction of heat loss is achieved… Not great amount but something of a stop gap whilst you save for replacing your windows with modern double or triple glazing which can be fitted by a local window fitting professional. If you swapped all the single glazed windows in a three-bedroom house you’d save around £165 ($250) a year on your heating bill, as well as 680kg of carbon dioxide emissions. Double glazing should last for at least 20 years (so about £3,300 ($500) savings over 20 years). Factory made sealed units are made from specialised glass and are filled often with an inert gas that insulates both heat and sound.