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Home Insulation Guide: Types Of Insulation

You’ve read all our top tips. Your boiler has been serviced and given a clean bill of health. You’ve bled your radiators. You’ve insulated your condensate pipe and you’ve checked your controls and heating programmes. So why is your house still cold? It could all be down to your insulation (or lack of).

In an uninsulated home, over 30% of all the heat produced by your heating system is lost through the roof, ceiling and walls. But by doing some simple DIY, you can make a massive difference to your home and your energy bills. A few insulation types need professional help, and some may not be relevant for your home, but you can find out more below.

Walls

Almost half of the heat loss in uninsulated homes in the UK is due to walls lacking any insulation. One of the most common ways to reduce heat lost through walls is called cavity wall insulation. The way newer homes are constructed leaves a small air gap between the exterior brick and the internal blocks, often called a cavity. This cavity can be filled by a professional using different insulating materials, the most common of which are Blown mineral wool, EPS beads or Polyurethane foam. Each has their advantages and disadvantages, and it pays to do your research to work out what’s best for your property.

Installation of cavity wall insulation usually takes a couple of hours and consists of the installer drilling small holes into the exterior of the property, piping in the selected material, and filling the holes back in. The usual payback period is only a few years and there are often grants or schemes available to help reduce the cost. To find out more about cavity wall insulation and find an approved installer, click here to visit the National Insulation Association’s website.

Blown mineral wool

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

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.

Polyurethane foam

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 the second biggest contributor to heat loss in your home. Luckily, you can make a big difference by installing some loft insulation. Generally, loft insulation comes in rolls as blanket insulation. Blanket insulation is often the easiest and cheapest option for loft insulation, especially for fitting between roof joists. You can get loft insulation from most good DIY shops, but be sure to follow any safety instructions on the packaging, especially any protective equipment (such as gloves or a breathing mask) needed. For more information on loft insulation, how to choose the best material and advice for fitting, visit the National Insulation Association’s website here.

Quick wins

Whilst there are some insulation jobs that need professional intervention, there are lots of ways to help insulate your home that you can do yourself, for a relatively low cost.

Pipe lagging - Insulating your pipes can not only help keep the heat going where it’s needed, but it can also help pipes that are exposed to the elements (such as outdoor pipes or pipes in unheated areas) from freezing in the winter. This can save a big head-ache and expensive repair fees. We have also written a guide with additional detail on how to thaw a frozen condensate pipe.

Draught excluders - To help keep heat in the rooms where you want it and stop cold draughts from blowing under doors, it’s a good idea to invest in draught excluders. These are either temporary, which slip under a door, or permanent, which can attach to the back side of a door.

Thermal curtains - If your radiators are positioned below your windows, it may be worthwhile investing in thermal curtains. These are slightly thicker than regular curtains, and use special material designed to keep heat in the room.

Chimney balloons - Open fires can make a huge difference in the temperature of a room, and give that nostalgic glow and crackle only a wood fire can. But when you’re not using it, they can be a major contributor of draughts and warm air escaping your home, straight up the chimney. 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, effectively 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, and usually come with warning labels to remind you it’s installed. 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.

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