The ultimate guide to insulating your home

Homes account for between 30% and 40% of all energy expenditure in the UK. That being the case, homeowners will be frustrated to know that a significant portion of the energy they use to heat their houses is lost to poor home insulation.

Not only does this inflate the bill at the end of the month but it also increases your carbon footprint.

In this Love Energy Savings guide, we examine how your home might be more toxic to the environment than you think — and explain how to make your home energy efficient.

How toxic is your property?

Unfortunately, we have only just really started to get the gist of how toxic our structures really are. As a result, the majority of our offices and houses are antiquated, meaning most are draughty and bad at retaining this heat. It is thought that over half of these buildings will still be in use in the year 2050, meaning that these levels of inefficiency are unlikely to improve significantly for generations to come.

Of course, no one is suggesting that these buildings should be knocked down and rebuilt with better standards of efficiency. So what’s the answer?

A process by the name of ‘retrofitting’ seems to be the prudent course of action and basically involved the implementation of energy saving features and add-ons for the business or the home. There are loads of energy management technologies available which can have a dramatic effect on your carbon output. There have been examples of buildings that were constructed nearly two centuries ago, being transformed into zero carbon-emitting structures, such as the QB2 house in the Cube Project. Therefore, it is possible to play your part in the wider energy efficiency project.

For homeowners, though, one of the most effective steps you can take to reduce the toxicity of your home — and save on your bills as a result — is home insulation.

What is home insulation?

Home insulation is the best way to not only keep your home warm and cosy in those cold winter months but also cool in the summer. It can also really help to combat noise pollution, particularly if you live in a built-up area.

Insulating your home is a surefire way to save money on your energy bills, blocking out any pesky draughts that occur in common places around the house.

But how much do we know about home insulation and its benefits?

How does heat leave the home?

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It’s surprising to discover how much heat can be lost throughout the home. There are four main ways in which it can escape. They are:

- Air movement - This is the draught you experience within any room in the home. This is often warm air escaping the most important rooms in your house, like the bedroom or living room.

- Radiation - The heat you feel when you are near a radiator, fireplace or another source of heat is actually infrared radiation. It’s similar to things like radio waves and UV, which are all forms of electromagnetic radiation. You can examine how much radiation is being emitted from your property by taking infrared photos of your home.

- Conduction - This is heat leaving your home through the parts of your home’s exterior that are made of heat-conducting materials. These include wood, brick or metal.

- Convection - This is the rising of hot or warm air in the home. This will often result in there being lots of air circulating in certain rooms and forms the principle behind central heating radiators.

Which insulation should I choose?

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There are a wide variety of insulation products available on the market, all carrying a variety of benefits and drawbacks. We’ve put together an insulation comparison below to help you find the best fit.

1. Blanket insulation

Pros: Easy to install

Cons: Expensive compared to other options

Probably the most popular choice for house insulation. Its easy-to-roll qualities mean most people can install it without having to call in a professional.

The downside to blanket insulation is that in most cases it is made from sheep's wool, which is usually expensive. And although alternative materials to sheep’s wool that are used, such as recycled glass, are cheaper, they are irritable to the skin, so care and attention is needed when installing.

2. Blown-fibre insulation

Pros: The quickest way to install home insulation

Cons: One of the most expensive methods

This is by far the quickest method of insulation, but needs to be done by a professional. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most expensive methods around because its versatility means it can be installed within any loft, especially cramped ones where the use of blanket insulation is virtually impossible.

3. Sheet/Board insulation

Pros: Environmentally friendly, discreet

Cons: Can become less effective if it accumulates moisture

One of the ‘greenest’ solutions on the market, usually made out of cork, wood and straw, its thickness makes sheet or board insulation one of the best choices for the majority of homes.

It can also be stylishly hidden within any loft when finished with plasterboard covering.

Make your home more energy efficient today

Upgrading your home with insulation is one of the best ways you can cut down your carbon footprint and live more comfortably at the same time. Once you’ve found the right insulation for your home, you’ll see the benefits straight away. What’s not to love?

For more top tips from Love Energy Savings, check out the rest of our guides and the Love Energy Savings blog.

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