Insulation: the unsexy home essential

Baby it’s cold outside. Well, as long as it isn’t cold inside too, you are OK. This is where insulation comes in.

Insulation makes for a dull dinner party conversation topic, but it is something any homeowner should tackle. Insulation doesn’t have to be expensive, and some is easy to fit yourself.

Loft insulation

Your loft needs 270mm of insulation these days. Most houses only have 100mm. Top-up insulation is easy to install yourself.

Loft insulation

Topped up loft insulation

Storing stuff in your loft? Well make sure you don’t crush the insulation as it renders it useless. You need to raise the boarding above the insulation, or limit the area you use for storage and insulate the rest of the loft, accepting that part of the roof will be under-insulated.

Loft boarding itself does not count as insulation, as it is the air trapped inside the insulation material that keep the warmth in.

Grants are available to have loft insulation installed, but you can DIY it for as little as £20 per loft.

Cavity wall insulation

Houses built between the 1920s and 1980s have an air gap between the inner block wall and outer brick wall. You can tell if your house has a cavity wall by looking at the brick pattern.

Brick wall

If your bricks are laid in this pattern, it is likely to have an air-gap cavity wall behind it.

Cavity wall insulation is not a DIY job, but grants will reduce the cost outlay to just a couple of hundred quid.

Draft excluders

Think of the gaps around doors and windows that can be filled with self-adhesive foam strips. Perhaps a sausage dog draft excluder will do the trick. Or a curtain behind drafty exterior doors.

TOP TIP – When it gets dark, just close the curtains in all the rooms in the house (even if not being used). Curtains act as another layer of insulation, and it costs you nothing to close the curtains…

Keyhole and letterbox covers are also effective at reducing heat loss, and all are easy to fit with hardly any DIY skills.

Double glazing

Changing windows is the most expensive way of reducing heat loss. Easily costing several thousand pounds for even a small house; try the other methods first.

A word of warning

Houses need to breathe. Improving insulation can increase problems with humidity and condensation.

If you insulate both your loft and walls, you will need to increase the ventilation in the eaves of your loft. This can start to get costly and complicated. Double glazing units have trickle vents to aid ventilation, but replacing double glazing is expensive.

As a bare minimum, properly insulating your loft and blocking drafts will go a long way to making your home a cosier place to live.


Posted on December 22, 2011, in DIY skills, Interior and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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