How to improve the insulation in your home
Heat can escape from your home in all sorts of ways - not just via the roof. It can get out through the walls, floors, windows, chimney and even the letterbox, meaning it exits from virtually every corner of your home. This isn’t what you want when you’re paying for gas to heat your property. To keep your house at a comfortable temperature, all this wasted heat will need to be replaced, meaning your boiler will work harder if the insulation in your home is poor.
To reduce this heat loss, you can find ways to improve your home’s insulation and seal up those areas where warmth can potentially escape.
How to improve your home’s insulation
Below, you can find just some of the ways you can improve your home’s insulation to keep heat loss to a minimum.
Increase your loft insulation
While it’s a myth that the majority of the heat in your home escapes via the roof, around 25 per cent can be lost in this way. This is because of convection. Convection describes the way in which hot air rises and cold air falls. This is generally why your home might be cooler downstairs in summer, but upstairs feels like a sauna
How can loft insulation reduce heat loss?
A conventional boiler is able to heat water up and store it in a hot water tank, keeping it warm for hours until it is needed. Once the stored hot water runs out, you will need to wait for more to be heated and the tank to be refilled.
These systems are better for larger homes that have multiple bathrooms and lots of radiators, however the tank can take up a considerable amount of space. Many people use the cupboard where the tank is stored as an airing cupboard.
If you have an attic that you don’t use, it’s useful to make sure that you have a thick layer of insulation on your attic floor. This will prevent much of the heat lost from the first floor into your attic. Insulation should be up to around 27cm here. If your insulation is thinner than this, you could have some more installed.
It may also be a good idea to seal the loft hatch using strip insulation. This will help to prevent convection forcing cool air down into your home from your loft if this part of your house becomes very cold in the winter.
As well as convection, there are other types of air movement that can cause heat loss. Draughts allow cold air to get into your home while also moving the warm air outside. Draughty areas tend to include gaps around doors and windows, but cold air can also get in between the floorboards and through the letterbox. Around 10 per cent of heat is lost through the floor.
Your chimney is also a culprit when it comes heat loss, but not because cold air comes down it. Instead, a chimney acts as a giant hoover and sucks the warm air out of the room, releasing it outside. Therefore, the heat lost through the chimney could be the same as leaving a window open.
Luckily, there are lots of gadgets and solutions that can be used to prevent the cold air from getting into your home through these little nooks and crannies.
You can use a chimney balloon that is pushed up the chimney and then inflated. It allows some air flow through, however, the reduction in heat loss could be huge.
You should also consider adding a brush to a letterbox, re-sealing doors and windows if you notice that there are gaps where there shouldn’t be and using draught excluders around door frames.
Finally, some home decor items can be used to prevent heat loss via the floors. You could use rugs and other soft furnishings to help keep the heat inside a room.
Use good quality insulation
Some materials are better at insulating than others and over the years, these materials have been improved. Therefore, if your home is around 50 years old and the insulation hasn’t been improved in the last 20 or so years, you could see an improvement by switching out the insulation for a better quality material.
The most popular form of insulation is mineral wool. This is because wool is able to trap air within its structure. The wool is often mixed with fiberglass to make it extra effective at keeping the heat within your home.
Wood is also often a good insulator, which is why it’s used for doors. Therefore, insulating your loft with wool rolls and then boarding out the loft with wooden planks could make a big difference to the energy efficiency of your home.
Finally, paper is another good material for insulation. It can be treated before use to ensure that it is fire resistant. It’s especially good for insulating small nooks and crannies where a roll of insulation won’t fit.
Insulate the walls
Did you know that heat can also move through solid items, including metal and brick? This is why so much heat, up to 40 per cent, could be lost through your walls.
Insulating walls is a little harder than adding some padding to the loft and using draught excluders. If you live in a home that was built in the 1990s or afterwards, you’ll likely already have some form of wall insulation. However, if your property is older than this, you may not have this type of insulation.
Cavity wall insulation can be retrofitted, however it can be a messy job and would need to be done by a professional. They can install it by drilling a series of small holes in the brick work and injecting the cavity insulation into the wall. This won’t work if your home has solid walls with no gaps.
If your house has solid walls, stud walls would need to be built inside each room. This could make your rooms significantly smaller and it costs more than installing cavity insulation.
Alternatively external insulation or cladding can help considerably reduce heat loss through walls.