In the depths of winter, our energy bills often sky-rocket. We are also increasingly aware of the environmental issues around our energy use, making the need to lower annual household energy consumption more important that ever. But how green are our homes and what steps can we take to make our houses more efficient? Here at D.W. Nye we’re used to helping customers deal with this issue, with experts on hand to guide you through the best options to beat the chill, and do our bit for the planet.
According to the UK Energy Research Centre, when it comes to energy usage we waste the equivalent to the output of six nuclear power stations. The Government is taking a hard line on this issue since committing to cutting carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. Shockingly, one third of this waste comes from heat escaping from draughty houses. The research warned that 25 million homes will fail to meet the standards required by 2050. So, one home every minute will need work.
The problem with insulating older properties is the disruption caused during this process, however one look at the annual cost savings may convince more of us that the short term pain is worth it. Our bills could be reduced by an average of £270 per year by insulating lofts, walls and improving the energy efficiency of household appliances.
The best place to start is in the loft. A quarter of the heat in your home is lost through the roof. Insulating your loft space is a job that most people will attempt themselves as the products available today make it a relatively straight-forward process. Rolls of mineral wool by suppliers like Earthwool can be laid between and over the joists. The recommended depth is currently 270mm. Start at the furthest point from your loft hatch and work backwards, aiming for a complete blanket of insulation. If you use this space for storage you may have to raise the level of the boards in order to create a thick enough layer. This can be done by using purpose made plastic legs or timber batons which attach to the joists to support the new floor. Ensure there is a gap between the new floor and the insulation to prevent condensation. For loft conversions, hard insulation boards can be cut to fit between roof rafters and covered with plasterboard.
During this process, don’t forget to use caulk and expanding foam sealant to close air gaps between plumbing vents, pipes and holes where electrical wires enter the loft space. Weather stripping around the loft hatch will also prevent draughts.
If your house is over 20 years old then it is likely your walls will have very little insulation. With a third of heat lost this way, it is definitely an option worth considering. Cavity walls have a gap between the exterior and interior and are a common feature of houses built from the 1920s. The cavity can be filled easily using cellulose which is blown into the space through a small external hole.
Houses built before the 1920s tend to have solid walls which require either internal insulation or an additional external layer. Internal options include applying rigid boards directly to the existing wall and many new products have a moisture barrier to tackle condensation. The alternative is to construct a new timber stud wall. Remember, external insulation could change the outward appearance of your home and may not be suitable for protected period properties. A range of renders, silicone paints, bricks and tiles can be used to cover the insulation blocks and recreate the existing appearance.
It may seem like an old-fashioned idea but blocking out draughts from windows and doors can have a massive impact. Draught-proofing strips can be fitted to windows and sealant effectively covers cracks between frames and walls. External doors can be fitted with brushes that close the gap between the door and floor. Unused chimneys can be temporarily blocked with chimney balloons to prevent your hard-earned cash simply disappearing out of the holes.
We hope that you have a warm and comfy start to 2018, but if you’re struggling to keep the heat in why not pop along to our depot for some expert advice. We’re really easy to find, on the A24 at Kingsfold, just north of Horsham on the West Sussex/Surrey border.
You can also call on 01306 628114 or get in touch via our contact form.