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Home insulation guide: types of insulation

inside of a loft

By making sure your home is well insulated, you will immediately notice that when you switch your heating on, your home will feel considerably warmer for longer.

In a uninsulated home, such as single brick or cob properties, most heat is lost through the roof, ceiling and walls. There are some simple changes that you can make to help make your home feel warmer whilst also helping to lower your heating bills.

There are a few methods of insulation that will require professional installation. Some of the types mentioned may not be relevant to the type of property you live in. Read on to find out more about the different forms of insulation.


Almost half of the heat loss in poorly insulated homes in the UK is due to walls lacking any insulation. One of the most common ways to reduce heat lost internal and external walls is called cavity wall insulation.

When new build homes are constructed, a small air gap is left between the exterior brick and the internal blocks. This is often known as a cavity. This cavity is then filled using different insulating materials. The most common are Blown mineral wool, EPS beads or Polyurethane foam.

Installation of cavity walls usually takes a couple of hours and consists of the insulation installer drilling small holes into the exterior of the property, piping in the selected material and filling the holes back in.

Although this can be an expensive upfront cost, there are often grants or schemes available to help reduce the price.

The government’s ECO4 scheme is available to those who are looking to improve the efficiency of their homes. You can read more about the grant and see the eligibility criteria here.

To find out more about cavity wall insulation and find an approved installer, click here to visit the National Insulation Association’s website.

This consists of spun glass wool or rock wool injected into the cavity being insulated. The benefit of this type of cavity insulation is ideal for homes that need long-lasting insulation that is simple to install. Blown mineral wool is pre-treated to repel water, though cannot be considered an effective barrier for your property. Therefore, any properties at high risk of flood should consider alternative cavity insulation.

EPS beads are essentially polystyrene beads that are held together through an adhesive agent and installed into the wall cavity itself. They are usually effective at insulating properties for the lifespan of the building and are effective at providing insulation.

The foam is injected into the cavity, though is typically the most expensive solution. With that said, it provides superior insulation to other methods and provides additional structural support to the walls themselves.

Loft insulation

Second to your walls, your roof is another big contributor to heat loss in your home. Adding some blanket insulation to the roof can help to trap the heat in and prevent it from escaping. Blanket insulation is often the easiest and cheapest option for loft insulation, especially for fitting between roof joists.

If you're looking to install a heat pump, we recommend installing loft insulation that is 200mm and above in thickness. This ensures the heat pump can work at optimum energy efficiency.

You can get loft insulation from most good hardware shops, but it's important to correctly follow any safety instructions on the packaging and have the necessary protective equipment (such as gloves or a breathing mask) with you. For more information on loft insulation, how to choose the best material and advice for fitting, visit the National Insulation Association’s website here.

Floor insulation

Floor insulation involves adding insulation to the ground floor of your property. If you have a solid concrete floor, you can add rigid insulation on top which will act as an extra layer of insulation. Older properties tend to have suspended timber floors which can be insulated using mineral wool.

You can check to see if what type of flooring your have if you have a basement or cellar or by very carefully lifting a corner of your carpet.

Double or triple glazing

Upgrading your existing windows to ensure they are double or triple glazed will help retain warmth and prevent heat from escaping as easily.

Double glazing consists of two panes of glass with an air gap in the middle that is filled with an insulating gas. This stops heat from escaping outside, helping to improve the energy efficiency of your home. Triple glazing works in the same way apart from there is three panes of glass and two air gaps, making an even better insulator.

If you're looking to install a heat pump, having double or triple glazing will help it operate at peak efficiency and should make your home stay warmer for longer.

When upgrading your windows, make sure you contact a professional installer.

How can I quickly insulate my home?

Whilst there are some insulation jobs that need to be professionally installed, there are multiple ways to help insulate your home that you can do yourself, for a relatively low cost.

  • Pipe lagging - Insulating your pipes is important in preventing them freezing in the winter. Adding insulation to outdoor pipework or pipes in unheated areas can help to prevent this. Frozen pipes can affect your whole central heating system and if they get badly damaged, can be expensive in repair fees. Read our guide with additional detail on how to thaw a frozen condensate pipe.
  • Draught excluders - To help trap heat in the rooms and to stop cold draughts, investing in draught excluders is a simple yet effective solution. These are either temporary, which slip under a door, or permanent, which can attach to the back side of a door. Another method is by purchasing weather stripping tape that you can use to seal around windows and door ledges. They work by blocking cold and warm air from moving between the outside and inside.
  • Thermal curtains - A majority of radiators are positioned below windows meaning that heat can easily escape through the window above. Investing in thermal curtains and blinds can add an extra layer of insulation that can help to keep the heat inside. These are slightly thicker than regular curtains as they are made using special material designed to keep heat in the room.
  • Chimney balloons - A lot of heat can escape through chimneys making them a major contributor of draughts. One way to prevent this is by investing in a chimney balloon. These small, heavy duty balloons are designed to be inflated in the lower part of the chimney blocking the majority of the air flow, keeping your rooms warmer.
Chimney balloons will allow a small amount of air to pass to prevent damp forming in the chimney. It’s really important to remove any chimney balloons prior to building a fire. Once the fire has burnt out and the area has cooled, you can easily reinstall the balloon.

Looking for more tips to help you get ready for Winter?