Home Improvements

by Hannah Fenton

November 22, 2017

Peter Womersley Modernist house, Valley Spring

Built in the Sixties and nestled in a wooden dell, Valley Spring is a Modernist masterpiece with the majority of its original features intact. South…

Invest in insulation for your property to create a comfortable home and reduce your energy costs.

Buyers guide to insulation

Office OU (office-ou.com)

 

Whether you’re carrying out major renovation works, or building a house from scratch, making sure the property is as thermally efficient and insulated as possible should be high on your priority list. You may have heard of taking a fabric-first approach, which means designing a building that’s tightly sealed and packed with insulation. You can always add green tech later, but with this route you might not even need to.

Sealing gaps and topping up loft insulation can help make winter much more bearable without you having to crank up the thermostat. In fact, a well-insulated home has been proven to save homeowners hundreds of pounds a year on bills. ‘Insulation remains effective for the life of the building,’ says Neil Marshall, chief executive of the National Insulation Association (0845 163 6363; nia-uk.org). ‘And installing insulation can also protect homeowners from future energy price rises.’

There are a host of insulation products to help you keep your home warm, some of which you can fit yourself if you’re a confident DIYer.

 

Cavity walls

If your home was built between the Thirties and Eighties then you may have un-insulated cavity walls. Adding insulation consists of drilling small holes into the external walls and blowing in the insulating material (mineral wool, beads or granules, or foam) through the openings. With a third of heat lost through a property’s walls, adding cavity wall insulation could save you £160 annually according to the Energy Saving Trust (energysavingtrust.org.uk). This work will need to be carried out by a professional, and will require you to submit a notice to building control. However, the company carrying out the work might be able to do this on your behalf.

Buyers guide to insulation3

Knauf (0844 800 0135; knaufinsulation.co.uk)

 

Solid walls

These can be insulated either internally or externally with there being pros and cons for both options. The great thing with insulating the facade of a property is you can give your home a facelift at the same time. However, you will need help from the professionals and you may also require local authority permission, particularly if you live in a conservation area.

Should you choose to insulate your solid walls internally it will cost you less and you may be able to do some of the work yourself. Knauf’s thermal laminate is a popular easy-to-use product. Be aware that you will lose some floor space, and will need to move radiators and electrical sockets.

Buyers guide to insulation1

Corkstore (01225 904 560; corkstore.co.uk)

 

Floor insulation

The type of insulation you choose will depend upon the floor construction of your home. Older properties are more likely to have suspended timber floors to which you can add insulation beneath the floorboards. Newer buildings often have a concrete slab floor which can be insulated internally using rigid insulation boards. Try Celotex PIR (01473 822 093; celotex.co.uk), or Thermafloor TF70 and OPTIM-R by Kingspan (01544 388 601; kingspaninsulation.co.uk). According to the Energy Saving Trust, insulation will cost £300- £750 for a suspended timber floor, and between £950 and £2,200 for solid floors.

 

Roof insulation

Around 25 per cent of heat is lost through the roof of an uninsulated home and upgrading this space could save you around £200 a year*. It is also one of the more affordable insulation projects, costing between £285 and £395*, and you might be able to do it yourself depending on the type of loft space you have. ‘Loft insulation works by preventing the movement of heated air through the material. The main types are blown mineral wool (glass or rock wool), blown cellulose (recycled newspaper), and quilted mineral wool,’ says Neil Marshall.

The option you choose will depend on the roof construction of the house. The recommended minimum depth of mineral wool insulation is 270mm, while the thickness of other systems will vary.

Buyers guide to insulation2

ModCell (0117 955 6731; modcell.com)

 

Alternative build methods

New technologies and concepts provide better opportunities to ensure the fabric of our homes is well insulated and tightly sealed. Construction methods that include insulation within the building’s frame are worth considering if you’re taking on a self-build project.

Structural insulated panels (SIPs) consist of a layer of insulation sandwiched between two timber boards, usually oriented strand board (OSB). These panels are then used to create the main frame of the house. Another example is insulating concrete formwork (ICF), in which hollow polystyrene blocks are filled with a concrete mix, the whole structure then becoming the walls of the building. Straw bales – both insulating and load bearing – are becoming more popular as a building material, and are also being incorporated into innovative building systems, such as ModCell’s prefabricated panels.

 

Words: Ifeoluwa Adedeji, Photography Nicolas Koff *Energy Saving Trust

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