Insulating your Attic
Installing efficient attic insulation can save you a fortune in your energy bills, as a lot of the heat lost in your home (about 25%) escapes through the roof. It's estimated that households can save between 30%-50% on their household bills through insulating their attic properly.
The type of roofing you have will affect the complexity of insulating it, sloped roofs are the simplest whereas flat roofs can be more of a challenge. They type of insulation you opt for must also be considered, as some options are more effective than others, and some are likely to better suit different needs you might have for your attic.
Cold Loft insulations
This involves installing insulation between the top story of your house and the floor of your loft. Cold loft insulation is the cheapest option, but it means that the attic itself will not be insulated and therefore you won't be able to store any temperature-sensitive items up there.
Care must also be taken when opting for this type of insulation to ensure that any pipes or tanks within the attic are individually insulated. This is important because they will be exposed to colder temperatures, as your insulation is only keeping the floors below warm. This can lead to burst pipes and frozen tanks in the colder months if not properly taken care of.
Warm loft insulation
This process involves insulating the roof or your attic. This is the more expensive option, but it means that your attic will be warm and can therefore be used for storage or as an addition room in your house. This is the more effective option of the two in terms of heat retention in your home, but it will be a longer and more costly process.
What to use
There are four types of material most commonly used for loft insulation.
Blanket loft insulation, made of foil-backed rock, mineral or glass fibre, is very popular as it's straightforward to install for yourself.
Sheet loft insulation is a firmer board design, largely used for sloped roofs. This have a very high insulating value and are therefore most commonly used if an individual is seeking to convert their loft into another liveable room.
Loose-fill loft insulation is an easy way to insulate spaces which are not going to be used for any other purpose and for topping up and insulation which has already been placed in the attic. Materials that can be used for this range from mineral wool to recycled newspapers, so long as the insulating material can easily fit between irregularly shaped spaces.
Blown-fibre loft insulation is a method used mainly by professionals in which they blow the fibre insulation into the gaps between joists. This is an easy method for insulating areas which would otherwise be difficult to access, but as it must be done by a professional, it can be more costly than other types of loft insulation.
Insulating your Floorboards
Insulating the floor on the ground level of your home could save you between £45 - £55 every year, and is a worthwhile investment if you're looking to save money on your energy bills in the long-term. Floors on the second level of your home should not require any extra attention unless they are above an unheated room such as the garage, in this case, additional insulation should be considered.
The type of insulation you need will depend on the type of flooring you have on your ground floor. Suspended floors are the worst in terms of heat loss as the floorboards are resting over joists which means that your floors are effectively suspended over vacant space. Installing insulation between these joists is the best way to solve this problem, this can be any insulation material such as mineral-wool rolls, sheep's wool or insulation boards. The main issue with installing this form of insulation is that, if you do not have access via a cellar or basement to the space beneath the floor boards, you will have to lift the floorboards to fit the installation, which can be a large and messy task.
In many newer homes it's now common to have a ground floor made of solid concrete. The best way to insulate flooring of this type is to place a new layer of rigid insulation on top, such as wooden floor boards. If you opt for this form of coverage, it's important to ensure there are no gaps left in between the panels or skirting boards. If you do notice and gaps which could be letting in excess draughts, simply fill them using a sealant which can usually be found in any DIY store.
A cheaper, but less effective, way of insulating your floorboards is to use rugs on the floor wherever possible. This will help keep the floor warmer and block off excess draughts. However this is not a long-term solution and will not insulate your floors as effectively as the other methods we have discussed.
Double glazing is an extremely efficient way to insulate your home, and could save you hundreds when it comes to paying your annual heating bill. It can be quite a costly process but you'll see the money returned through the savings on your energy bill in the long run.
If you don't think you can stretch to installing new windows throughout your home, a less costly solution is to invest in insulating film that you can place over single-glazed windows in order to increase their energy efficiency. This method will save you a lot of money but will not be as efficient when it comes to saving energy in your home. This is also obviously not a long-term solution to your insulation problems, the film must be replaced every time you open your windows as this breaks the seal.
Draught-Proofing your Doors and Windows
Your home can lose a significant amount of insulation through unwanted gaps letting the warm air out of your house and the cold air in. Most commonly, these gaps will be found underneath doors or in cracks and crevices around the frames of your windows. These gaps will make a huge difference to the efficiency of your homes insulation but in most cases can be very easily fixed.
To fix any drafts which may be coming in underneath your doors, simply purchase a brush or hinged flap draught excluder. These will usually come with a self-adhesive surface to ensure that they are easy to fix to your door, and are relatively cheap to buy, making them a very worthwhile investment for your home.
To ensure that your windows are efficiently insulated, first you must check for any gaps around the frame. Run your hand over the boarders of the window to check for a breeze at any point, if you can feel a breeze then you've found a gap which needs to be fixed. A good way to do this is with sealant which can be used to fill any crevices you may have found.
Making sure you have thick curtains up in your windows is a great way to prevent heat loss in your house, and if you don't want to splash out on heavy duty curtains, you can always line your existing ones with cheaper material yourself.
Keeping your curtains open in the sunlight allows the warmth from the sun to enter and heat your home, and keeping them shut when it's dark prevents the heat already in your house from escaping. It can also be a good idea to place an additional curtain in front of your main doors to the outside to add another layer of insulation and protection.
An unblocked fireplace could be costing you hundreds of pounds each year through excess energy costs. Unless you often make use of your fireplace, you'll be losing a considerable amount of heat through your chimney. A cheap and effective way to resolve this problem is to purchase a chimney balloon, a small plastic balloon which you place inside your chimney and inflate until it blocks out any air trying to get in from the outside. These can be purchased from as little as £20 and will make a significant difference to your heating and energy bills.
Pay Attention to Draught Spots
Small draughts can make their way into your house through a variety of different sources, and will actually be making a significant difference to the heating in your home. It's worthwhile to take extra measures in blocking these draught sources if you're keen to insulate your home more effectively. The main culprits for this are usually your letterbox, keyholes and, if you have one, your cat flap. These can usually be blocked very simply by adding an extra barrier such as a brush or some sheep's wool insulation to the problem area.
Insulate your Loft Hatch
If you've gone to all the effort of insulating your loft, it's then extremely important that you don't undo this hard work by allowing your loft hatch to be uninsulated, letting a cold draught in and your home's warmth out. You can easily apply extra insulation to your loft hatch by attaching a layer of Styrofoam or sheep's wool insulation to the back of the hatch panel. It is also a good idea to attach draught proofing strips around the frame in order to seal the loft hatch as effectively as possible.