Much of the heat from the sun arrives on our planet in the form of far infrared radiation. Not to be confused with harmful UV, infrared is the reason we feel heat from the sun even though it is 150 million kilometres from earth.
By installing infrared radiant heating in your office, you could drastically reduce your energy bills and CO2 emissions.
The difference between regular convection heating and infrared
Most buildings in the UK are heated via radiators – this is funny because, despite their name, they don’t actually radiate heat at all. Hot water travels through a radiator, which in turn warms up and heats the air above it. This warm air then rises, only to be replaced by colder air below it. As this cycle repeats, convection currents are created which move around the room to make it nice and warm.
Infrared heating is very different. It does not rely on air as a medium to carry the heat: instead, the infrared waves are produced directly by the panel. This infrared travels unimpeded until it hits a solid object which then absorbs it and warms up.
Since the energy is only turned into heat when it comes into contact with solid objects, draughty rooms pose no issue to the warmth felt. You may have come across infrared heating panels under umbrellas in the outside areas of restaurants. The heating panels that we recommend for heating commercial spaces work on the same basis, although they don’t glow red and look much sleeker.
Why opt for infrared heating over conventional heating?
More and more businesses are adopting infrared heating solutions over more traditional heating systems. Why is this?
Infrared heating panels are energy efficient since they take very little time to warm up and also are less impacted by draughts. If a cold draught enters a room with convection heating, the hot air will very quickly be stripped out and the occupants will once again feel cold. This is not an issue with infrared.
If you have sat outside at a bar you may have seen an infrared heater in action: it glows red, and while it is glowing you can really feel the warmth. These are the old infrared heaters though – nowadays you can feel the same warmth from a unit that doesn’t need to get so warm it glows. This means that they are far safer in a work environment than these older heaters.
Infrared heaters also make for a more elegant heating solution. They can be glass, mirrored, or printed with a favourite photo for a canvas effect. You can get panels that are very thin (2cm or less) and can be hung anywhere. All they need is access to power, so no additional piping or lost floor space.
In a workplace, you may not use all of the rooms at once. With infrared heating, you only need to heat the rooms in use. This is because they can be controlled with a smart control system. With Jigsaw infrared their control system has been proven to save 30% on energy bills when using Jigsaw heating panels.
Which Infrared Heating is best for the workplace?
If you need higher-powered infrared heating units over the panels. Jigsaw’s higher-powered infrared heaters range from 1500w to 3200w, so they can provide you with the extra heat needed. They are perfect for bigger spaces like warehouses. These infrared heaters look very similar to the heaters you might see outside in restaurants, but they don’t glow red hot – and are safer because of this.
In warehouses, the infrared heating panels are ideal since they help reduce dampness because the infrared raises the temperature of any surface it hits. This can be very useful if the business is offering perishable goods.
Some panels also offer dual functionality; for example, they act as mirrors, and we have even come across restaurants using them as menu boards. The great thing about infrared heating is that they can be personalised to anything you want. For the best results and a cleaner finish on any RAL colour or a bespoke design, we recommend Jigsaw infrared’s glass heaters because the quality and vibrance of the colours stand out from any other infrared heaters. This is because the heaters aren’t mass-produced as they are made in Britain ensuring premium quality as it goes through a thorough process before being delivered,
In Offices, Schools, hospitals, or any property that has suspended ceilings. Aluminium infrared heaters are designed to slot perfectly into the suspended ceiling. The perfect sizes that Jigsaw infrared would recommend are 400w and 800w which makes the heating look invisible! This is really useful for any business as the walls are free and can be used for desk or storage space. For a case study on an installation in a school click here.
One of the major benefits of infrared heating is that the panels are near enough maintenance-free, basically because they have no moving parts, and often manufacturers will offer 5-year guarantees to provide a piece of mind. However, Jigsaw infrared offers a 10-year warranty as they are confident in the quality and efficiency of the panels.
How much do infrared panels cost?
This is entirely dependent on the size of the panel, for example, a 300w panel may cost as little as £350, while a bigger 1200w panel may cost in the region of £755. However, having a lower wattage heater won’t heat as much room space as a higher wattage heater may. Therefore, you would need twice as many infrared heaters in a room to even reach your required temperature and it would be more efficient to have higher wattages in the long run.
For example, the total energy usage for an 800w Jigsaw infrared panel to heat a space for 8 hours would require around: 1kWh. When the average electricity price from the grid is 30p/kWh. The total cost of running IR heating for this zone: 1kWhx (p/kWh) = 30 pence. Figures are based on a room 8m2 with good levels of insulation holding a temperature of 19º.
This means that the energy savings that will arise from infrared heating panels are substantial, using just 1/3 of the electricity to produce the same level of heating as other methods as it converts 100% of its energy into heat. If your business is considering its heating options, make sure to look at infrared heating. we recommend choosing the right infrared heating company that will maintain the heat best for your property.
Installing infrared heating
Are you thinking about installing infrared heating in your home? We have scoured the country for the best tradespeople so that we can make sure we only recommend those we really trust.
If you would like us to find you a local installer to help install infrared heating in your home, just fill in the form below and we will be in touch shortly!
For a free quote for Jigsaw infrared heating panels book a call today by clicking here!
Infrared light is the reason why we feel warm when the sun is shining in the middle of a wintery day. Conventional wisdom would suggest that if the air temperature were freezing, then you too would feel cold. However the infrared waves emitted by the sun travel unimpeded through space, and warm any object they hit, including your body.
Infrared is a form of electromagnetic radiation that sits just beyond the red end of the visible light range of the electromagnetic spectrum. We often hear the word radiation and automatically associate it with being harmful, but in fact, radiation is just a process of energy emission. Just like visible light radiation, infrared radiation is 100% safe and even our own bodies emit infrared radiation (which is what allows search and rescue helicopters to find lost travellers at night for example).
Conventional space heating in homes
Conventional heating in the home works by warming up the air around you; for instance a radiator does most of its heating through convection currents (it also gives off small amounts of infrared radiation).
When the radiator warms up, it heats the air directly around it, which then expands and rises. As the hot air rises, it creates a vacuum behind it, which pulls colder air into contact with the radiator, causing it to heat up. As the hot air begins to cool down it drops down back to floor level. This cold air gets heated again and this process keeps repeating itself – this is known as convection heating.
Most conventional heating systems do emit some infrared waves. For example, if you have ever sat near an open fire, you will have felt the heat on your face. Then when you put your hand in front of your face, this stops the infrared hitting your face directly; instead you will feel your hands get warm. This is infrared.
Infrared heaters in the home
Infrared heating is a fairly recent addition to the domestic and commercial heating scene. It is emitted from the heater, which then travels unimpeded through the air until it hits an object. The object absorbs the radiation, causing molecules within it to vibrate, producing heat.
If the waves come into contact with humans, they will travel about an inch into the body providing a feeling of deep heat, but even if you are not directly in the way of the waves, any solid body will vibrate when the waves hit them, causing them to radiate heat back towards you.
Despite being able to purchase gas, oil and solid fuel infrared heaters, we suggest using electric infrared panels in the home, since you do not need to integrate any pipework or fuel storage facilities when you install the panels. There are also no direct emissions associated with using the electrical panels (and if you use them in conjunction with solar panels you get 100% emission-free heating). According to a study made by Jigsaw infrared when adding solar panels to their infrared heating, you could save up to 50% on your energy bills. They also can be placed high up on the walls or the ceiling, so they will be easy to keep away from pets and children (they get about as warm as a standard radiator).
The electric panels come in numerous sizes and certain models can double up as mirrors. Since they have no moving parts, they operate in complete silence, which makes them ideal for any property.
Infrared heating works by heating the surface area of a room, rather than the volume (as is the case the traditional convection heaters), which means they are heating considerably less to provide the same amount of heat.
The following worked example compares a 800 Watt infrared heat panel and a standard 2000 Watt convection heater (like for like providing the same comfort of heat), providing heat up to 4 months of winter (November through to Feb 119 days) for 8 hours a day at a cost of £0.30 per kWh of electricity (As of May 2022 estimated 10 minutes per hour of use for IR panel. 10 minutes per hour for convection heater).
Electricity units per hour
Total electrical units used
In addition, you are heating solid walls or objects with infrared radiation and these have a thermal mass, which means they retain heat and help keep the home cosy. Conversely, air has no thermal mass, so in the case of traditional convection-warmed rooms, when a door is opened, the hot air will quickly escape; requiring you to reheat the room to feel warm again. One brilliant factor in favour of these panels is the ability to provide the home with a fully-zoned property. Unlike central heating systems, the panels can be switched on in individual rooms using the thermostats. This means that heating is only fully used when required. If you think how much energy is wasted in rooms that do not need to be heated, such as guest bedrooms, this is a real benefit.
A study was placed by Aston University and Jigsaw Infrared which found that Jigsaw’s infrared panels can increase the room temperature to 18 C in 10 mins which is less than a 2000 W storage and convection heater take 15 and 17 min respectively. Moreover, the IR heating system has an efficiency 2 times higher than a 2000 W and storage and convection heating system. Therefore, the IR panel used half the energy (50% less) of the storage heater and reached room temp in almost half the time. Therefore, Infrared heating is much more efficient at heating a space than conventional space heaters. The heat is also contained in the thermal mass of the room surfaces, as opposed to the heat. This means that it stays warmer for longer and draughts do not play as large a part when compared with convection heaters.
Infrared vs. other heating systems
Gas central heating with zone controls
Jigsaw infrared with zone controls
Reversible air con with zone controls
Air-water heat pump with zone controls
Electric convector heating with zone controls
Electric underfloor heating with zone controls
New electric night storage with automatic controls
Based on a 2-bed property and May 2022 energy prices. Heating only.
Other advantages of infrared heating
Another major advantage of infrared heating is that unlike conventional heaters that just heat the air, infrared heaters heat the walls, which will mean they stay completely dry. It then builds up the thermal mass within the walls and the floors, which maintains the warmth and keeps it dry by reducing condensation. Therefore infrared heating helps prevent the spread of mould in the property.
In addition, conventional heaters warm the room by convection currents that circulate dust particles continuously around the home, however these convection currents do not occur with infrared heating, so for people who suffer from asthma, infrared panels can be the ideal solution.
The units are compact and can be designed to provide other functions such as a mirror in the bathroom, which helps save room.
Since infrared heaters heat solid objects in the home like walls, they prevent any moisture build-up on these surfaces and so inhibit the spread of mould.
Fit and forget technology, very little maintenance required
These heaters are emission-free (i.e., no fuel is burnt in their operation) and if they are used in conjunction with renewable energy sources like solar PV, you are producing 100% clean heat.
The way these heaters heat a room is more efficient than conventional convection heaters, so they are more cost-effective to run.
Infrared heaters warm solid objects with a thermal capacity, therefore if a room is draughty or a door is opened, the solid objects retain the heat keeping the room warm.
low weight, small size, and no need for thermal bricks.
They cost about twice as much as traditional convection space heaters. However the saving difference made should mean that they pay back in a little over a year, and then you will experience savings on your energy bills.
To feel the true benefits of the heating panel, there needs to be no obstacles between you and the heating unit, which is not always easy to achieve.
Based on a newly built two-bedroom house, hall, and a bathroom at 18℃ with Jigsaw infrared aluminium infrared panels. IR panels are required for 5 x 400W at £395 each and 4 x 800W at £595 each. Including one room thermostat for each room at £89 each and one control Hub per property at £129. Total units and parts costing £5,285.
Installing infrared heating
Are you thinking about installing infrared heating in your home? We have scoured the country for the best tradespeople, so that we can make sure we only recommend those we really trust.
If you would like us to find you a local installer to help install infrared heating in your home, just fill in the form below and we will be in touch shortly!
Meeting your heating requirements with infrared panels
Meeting your heating requirements with infrared heating panels
On the whole, an infrared heating panel will heat one square metre of space for every 50 Watts of power supplied to the unit. Take an 800-Watt panel for example this will heat an area of approximately 12m2 in an average property.
Having said that, other variables also have a part to play in the heating ability of infrared heating panels. These include the quality of existing insulation, the temperature of the outside environment and the temperature the household tends to set its thermostat.
The Thermal envelope of the property and infrared heating panels
The level of insulation, the quality of glazing and the airtightness of a building are key factors in determining how much heat is retained. Each building fabric will offer a different thermal insulating performance, and this must be taken into consideration when you are sizing panels.
If you have good quality insulation, for example, then the heating panels will be at their most effective – warming the room quickly, then modulating on and off to top up the heat as required. The better insulated the walls and the roof space, the more heat will be retained and the less the panels will need to work.
If, on the other hand, you live in a period property and you have solid walls; or if you live in house with unfilled cavities, then installing insulation prior to putting up the heating panels may be a sensible idea. Loft insulation, for example, is cheap and easy to install. Ideally this should be be done prior to installing the panels, since once in place, the insulation would help limit the heat loss from the home when the panels were switched on.
How infrared heaters work
Infrared heating panels work by emitting infrared radiation; this is then absorbed by an object, which in turn will then warm up. The residents should be able to feel a comfortable level of warmth, even though the air temperature may be lower than you would normally experience with a traditional radiator heating system (which relies on convection heating).
If the heating panel is positioned on the wall, a certain amount of infrared radiation will be aimed at the ceiling and will get absorbed. As a result, this energy will not be felt directly by any people in the room. Therefore, positioning heating panels on the walls may limit the heating area by as much as 20%.
In an ideal world, the panels would be positioned on the ceiling; however, this is slightly dependent on whether the plasterboard is able to support that weight from the panels. If in doubt, seek advice from a construction expert or an electrician before installation.
It is important to touch on shading when talking about infrared heating; if the radiation is absorbed by something before it reaches the intended target, then the target won’t get warm. This is very similar to the effect of moving from direct sunlight into the shade – you will suddenly feel colder. This is because the sun does the bulk of its heating via infrared radiation (this is 100% safe and different from UV rays). The same thing happens in the home; if a table absorbs the infrared, the floor underneath it will not warm up.
To achieve a more all-around warm feeling, similar to what you would experience with a traditional central heating system, the heating panel needs time to warm the walls and furniture. These then give off warmth and effectively act as secondary heaters. Solid stone or brick walls take time to heat up, but then give off warmth nicely.
According to a study made by Wolverhampton University using Jigsaw infrared heating panels Gas central heating can often take around 30 minutes before occupants can start to feel the warmth as it heats the air within the space. Infrared heating heats objects, not the air, meaning that the warmth can be felt much quicker, normally less than 10 minutes. The Infrared system is so quick at heating that they can be controlled by motion sensors. The panels only come on when there is a person in the room.
Infrared heaters reduce condensation
Cold walls tend to cool the warm air created by conventional central heating and can cause condensation, whereas infrared heating is designed to heat the walls and the contents of the room. The fact the walls are heated means they will stay dry, reducing condensation and helping prevent the build-up of mould. Installing infrared heating means the objects are heated in addition to the air around them. Because of this, the panels can be directed towards damp walls to dry the wet areas and reduce the formation of mould.
How much heating output does my home require?
The sizing information we give is based upon a fairly well-constructed and relatively well-insulated home. As a result, we assume your home requires 50 watts per m2; however, this can be more like 100 or even 150 watts per m2 for an uninsulated house or commercial premises. The customer should always do some background research and assess how well insulated and thermally efficient their property is.
The other element to factor in is the temperature the homeowner would like to heat their property to. A recommended ambient temperature is normally between 18 and 22 degrees C; however, if you like to heat your home at 30 degrees then you will require more watts per m2 – and this will obviously cost you more to do.
A room thermostat and programmer may also help you take control of the heating. By fitting a room programmer, you can judge the warm-up period and cool-down time needed, and also set a lower daytime temperature just to prevent the room from becoming too cold. A thermostat will help prevent electricity from being wasted, by turning the heater on and off to maintain a set temperature. This is especially useful in spring and autumn when the weather is changeable and also in winter to keep a general warmth to the room rather than letting it get very cold and then having to use lots of power to boost the warmth up.
When installing Jigsaw control systems for the infrared heating panels you will need one Hub at £129 and a room thermostat for each room at £89 and any added extras to make the most of your efficiency. This can be set at several different times and temperatures throughout the day while only directing the heaters to heat a room in use via an app.
If you do decide to hang the infrared panels on the wall, you also need to consider where on the wall you are going to hang them. Infrared rays travel about 3 metres out of the panel, so a central position on the longest wall is preferable. Positioning at one end of the room and leaving areas unreachable will, unfortunately, produce cold spots, so you may wish to consider two panels if this is the case.
For the best results contact your supplier for a quote on where the most efficient place is to install your infrared heating system. Click here to get direct access to book a free quote from Jigsaw infrared.
Questions to ask yourself before installing an infrared heating panel
Q: What is the area/room size you are trying to heat?
A: The bigger the room, the more heating output you will require to get it up to comfortable temperature.
Q: What is the construction of the room/house – is it an old stone building, a modern building? Assess the level of existing insulation.
A: Older, solid wall properties will be less insulated, which means the rays are absorbed more by the fabric of the building; which in turn means less useful heat will radiate back into the room. So you may require more watts per m2.
Q: How many walls are external?
A: The more external walls that the heated area is exposed to, the more likely that heat will escape and radiate outside the building. Again this is where insulation is important, so determining how well the walls are insulated will have an impact on the heating requirement per m2. The better the insulation (filled cavity or solid wall insulation), the more likely the heat will remain in the room/s and keep that useful warmth, so the panels need to work less hard.
Q: What type of glazing do you have? Is it single or double and what is the size that occupies the walls?
A: If the answer is single glazing and the amount of area is large, then you will require higher output wattage than the 50 watts per m2 that we recommend.
Q: What height is the ceiling?
A: Domestic panels work optimally up to 3m in room height. If you have higher ceilings you can contact us and we will give you further guidance.
Q: Where do you think you will be placing the panels – ceiling or walls?
A: If you place the panels on the walls, ensure they are at least 1 metre from the ground. Some of the bigger panels will require a bigger gap of at least 2metres. On the other hand, if the panels are installed on the ceiling, make sure the plasterboard can support the weight.
Q: Will you be installing infrared heaters with thermostat and/or programmer?
A: When you have control over the temperature and running times of your panels you can ensure that energy coming in is optimised to the energy being released. The more sophisticated the setup, the more it will work around your lifestyle and operate efficiently to minimise wastage.
Infrared panels heat objects, not the air, so cold draughts have less of an impact.
Infrared panels are incredibly easy to install, requiring no pipework. They are just plug-in and go.
Shading will impact the infrared heating, if an object impedes the infrared radiation, the intended target will not get warm.
Infrared panels vary in price depending on the size of the panel, but prices start at around £150.
Installing infrared heating
Are you thinking about installing infrared heating in your home? We have scoured the country for the best tradespeople, so that we can make sure we only recommend those we really trust.
If you would like us to find you a local installer to help install infrared heating in your home, just fill in the form below and we will be in touch shortly!
Insulating your loft is one of the best ways to improve the EPC rating of your home. If you have a virgin loft (i.e. 25mm or less of insulation) then insulating it will produce massive savings on your energy bill and the great thing is that for many of us, the energy companies offer this insulation free.
Without proper loft insulation, a lot of the warmth produced by your heating system escapes through the roof of your property; in fact, as much as 25% of the heat in an uninsulated house is lost in this way. Loft insulation acts as a barrier, slowing the movement of heat out of the property during the winter and into the property during the summer.
Even if you can’t get it installed for free, it is an incredibly easy DIY job. In the tabs above, you can find out exactly how to do it.
The first decision to make is whether you are looking to create a warm loft or cold loft. The majority of us just use the loft space for storage so normally a cold loft will more than suffice, but for some we use the loft space for a games room or a study. To be honest, insulating your loft as a cold loft is far easier than trying to produce a warm loft – mainly because you don’t need to fight gravity. The method of insulating your loft varies considerably whether you have decide to push forward for a warm loft or a cold loft, but since the vast majority go for a cold loft lets start there – at the joists.
Insulating your loft at the joists
The purpose of insulation is to produce a barrier that slows the movement of heat either in or out of the property. When you produce a cold loft, you need to lay insulation directly above the ceiling to produce this barrier to slow the movement of heat out of the home during the winter and visa versa in the summer to prevent the home overheating.
The latest building regulations stipulate you need to reach a U-value of 0.16 to conform – now for most of us who don’t talk ‘U-values’, this simply means you need a 300mm blanket of wool insulation (if you decide to use rigid insulation board like celotex or Kingspan then you can achieve this u-value with less thickness).
What materials can you use to insulate joists?
We describe the main types of wool insulation in detail here. Each have their own advantages and disadvantages, but all of them work in a similar way. The wool traps air, which provides an insulating barrier. They are all fairly easy to work with, in that they can be cut to measure, shaped to fit around immovable objects and also rolls of wool insulation are cheap.
The main issue with wool insulation is that it compresses if you put any weight on it, which lowers its insulating efficiency. If you lay wool insulation to a depth of 270mm, it is also difficult to locate the joists, which you should use as support if you are in the loft space. Never stand between the joists, otherwise you will more than likely come through the ceiling!
Wooden boards can then be laid over all the insulation if you need to make the loft usable for things like storage. The insulating mineral wool used normally comes in rolls of blanket, which is a consistent thickness and width.
Sheep wool insulation
If you are using sheep wool insulation you will get the added benefits of the material being able to absorb moisture as well. Warm air rises from the heated rooms below and condenses when it comes into contact with cold insulation materials. Unlike other wool products, sheep wool can absorb some of this moisture and protect the joist timbers from rotting, without affecting its own insulating properties.
Loose-fill loft insulation
Insulating your loft floor using loose-fill is great as a top-up process for a pre-insulated space. It tends to be light material such as recycled newspapers and mineral wool, which can be spread to cover any gaps between the joists. You simply open the bags of insulating material and pour into any spaces that were previously lacking an adequate level of insulation. This process is a fairly simple do-it-yourself job.
Rigid insulation boards
These boards, produced by companies like Celotex, are ideal for insulating loft spaces. They are more expensive than the wool, however they offer double the insulating capacity (therefore where you would normally use 270mm of wool, you would only require 135mm of the insulating board). In addition, since they are rigid it is easy to store items directly on top of them without laying board on top of them first. They can be cut to size using a saw to fit between the joists and also drilled to allow room for light fittings.
Blown fibre insulation
Another type of loft insulation is blown fibre insulation, which must be installed by a professional. An installer will use specialist equipment to blow insulation material into the gaps that require it.
Having a carpet of insulation in your roof will significantly reduce heat loss out of your home. The reason why we are such advocates of loft insulation and consider it the no.1 method of saving energy in the home is basically because the insulation is incredibly cheap to buy and the process of producing a cold loft is so easy.
Now a couple of important things to mention; while this is certainly the cheapest way to go, the loft space itself will be very cold in the winter. This means that anything you really value should be kept in the home itself, not in the loft. In addition you need to insulate any pipework and cold water tanks up in the loft as these may now be liable to freezing and the cost of repairing bursting pipes will far outweigh the energy savings produced!
For detailed instructions on how to insulate your loft to produce a cold loft please click the tab here.
Insulating your loft at the rafters
Gravity is a pain – it makes producing a warm loft that much harder. Unfortunately if one tries to insulate between the rafters by squishing in lots of wool insulation then 9 times out of 10 it will just fall out.
However if your heart is set on creating a warm loft space then it is definitely possible. There are four main ways to insulate your rafters; the first is to use netting and wool insulation. Using solid insulation board is again a really good way to minimise heat loss out of your home. The third way is simply to use reflective foil stapled to the rafters – this doesn’t produce significant energy savings but is by far the simplest way to go, requiring just reflective foil and a staple gun. You might want to use reflective foil anyway even if you do opt for a cold loft.
What materials can you use to insulate between rafters?
The materials you should use to insulate the rafter space will depend on the way you have chosen to insulate, however the products used will tend to be denser and more rigid than those used for joists.
If you are looking to insulate between the rafters you can use both wool or insulation boards.
If you are looking to insulate below the rafters then you may choose to use insulation boards or reflective foil.
Normally the process you decide on depends how deep the actual rafters are. If the depth is rather shallow the best option will be to insulate below the rafters. You can in theory increase the depth yourself by attaching planks of wood top of the rafter, but then you are giving yourself more work and adding complexity to the process.
Mineral wool for insulating between the rafters
This can be glass wool, rock or mineral wool and it comes in rolls. You will need to wear protective material, a mask and have the adequate tools to fix this to the space between the rafters. The material is then fixed to the space between the rafters, whilst ensuring there is gap to the roof membrane to avoid condensation.
The difficulty in creating a warm loft with mineral wool insulation is basically due to the thickness of wool insulation needed to hit the necessary U-value as specified by building regulations (300mm) although to be honest, if you are doing this yourself, you are not required by law to conform. The way to keep the insulation in place is to use a net that you can then staple to the rafters which acts as a hammock for the insulation.
Sheep wool for insulating between the rafters
If you are using sheep’s wool, which is not an irritant, then you can handle the material without wearing protective clothing. If you are using sheep wool insulation you will also get the added benefits of the material being able to absorb moisture. Warm air rises from the heated rooms below and condenses when it comes into contact with cold insulation materials. Sheep wool, unlike other wool products, can absorb some of this moisture and protect the rafter timbers from rot, without it affecting its own insulating properties. When insulating rafters, a more rigid form of sheep’s wool insulation can be used, which is more suited to rafter insulation.
Insulation boards for insulating between or below the rafters
Insulating board can be fitted between the rafters or below the rafters. Note: Because the material is thick, if you are going below the rafter space you will certainly lose headroom in the loft space. If your rafters are shallow then you have no choice and have to insulate below.
These boards, produced by companies like Celotex or Kingspan, are ideal for insulating loft spaces. They are more expensive than the basic mineral wool, however they offer double the insulating properties (therefore where you would normally use 200mm of wool, you would only require 100mm of the insulating board). They can be cut to size using a saw to fit between the spaces and drilled through for cabling.
Reflective foil for insulating below the rafters
A thin layer of reflective material is placed below the rafters to prevent heat escaping from the property. This is the most simple way to insulate your loft via the rafters, but obviously the insulating properties on this type of insulation are very limited compared to either mineral wool or insulating board.
As mentioned, the foil is by far the easiest way to insulate your loft; you simply staple it to the rafters. It is worth starting at the apex of the ceiling and then working down the rafters, overlapping the foil to achieve a continuous reflect surface. You can then tape over the joins.
A layer of foam is sprayed into the rafters and sets hard. This can only be installed professionally.
When professionals come in and install spray foams, they can achieve high thermal efficiency with very little depth. The two downsides of this firstly that it is very expensive compared to the other methods and also it doesn’t allow the roof to breath, locking in the water next to the timber – which as we have mentioned previously can lead to problems.
While having a warm loft space is great because you can then use the space – you are now heating an extra ‘room’ that you wouldn’t normally heat if you insulated just above the ceiling (i.e. a cold loft) – which means your heating bill will be higher.
A warmer home.
Can be done cheaply.
Potential savings on your energy bills.
CO2 saving of 210kg to 730kg p/a.
Installing loft insulation
Interested in installing loft installation? The Green Homes Grant is a Government run scheme, offering grants of up to £10,000.
If you are interested in this scheme, we advise you look in to this on the Government website.
Not all windows need to be draught-proofed. Double or triple glazed windows installed since 2002 should be sufficiently well-built and installed so as not to require any. Older double glazing and single glazed windows can be draught-proofed, however. If you are unsure on the age of your double glazing, you should check for either a FENSA certificate, which you will have received with any windows installed since 2002, or a stamp in the metal seal of the window.
Where to look for draughts
The gaps between the window and the frame
Caulk on the outside of the window frame
The area around any locks or catches
Although the potential for draughts to occur around the edge of one window is not equal to that of an external door, the accumulated draught from every window in your house can account for huge amounts of energy loss. Therefore it is crucial to draught-proof these areas. In order to complete a successful draught-proofing of a window, you must firstly pinpoint the gaps that require work. After locating the area that requires draught-proofing, there are a few methods to consider.
How can I draught-proof my windows?
How should I draught-proof a window that opens?
Firstly, compression seals provide a professional finish and prevent draughts, as well as dust and moisture entering the home. The seals are sometimes held by metal, plastic or wooden carriers, which are fixed onto the frames through pre-drilled fixing holes. This maintains the ‘memory’ or ‘bounce-back-ability’ of the seal, enabling it to return to its original shape even after periods of crushing, due to normal everyday use of the window. The carrier is cut to length and must be less than 25mm from the cut end to avoid any snagging on unwanted items such as clothing. However they may also be glued to the frame. While these compression seals, as well as the similar tubular seals, provide excellent performance on narrow window gaps, they are not the best option when draught-proofing sash windows on larger properties.
How should I draught-proof a window that doesn’t open?
The best method for draught-proofing a window that does not open is a silicone-based sealant. After the gaps in the framework have been located and cleaned to remove any dust that may reduce the longevity of the draught-proofing method, a gunned silicone sealant can be easily applied. This is a cheap and easy way to DIY draught proof.
How should I draught-proof a sash window?
If you are looking to draught-proof a sash window or if the gaps between the window and its frame are not consistent due to seasonal changes, brush strips may provide the best solution. While mainly used in the draught-proofing of doors, it is not rare to see this method around larger windows. This solution involves brushes or blades fixed into a carrier, which is pinned onto the frame. While they may be painted to reduce their visibility, this does decrease their efficiency. However the brushes or blades may be contained using wooden carriers, which may provide a more aesthetically-pleasing solution to window draughts.
Another method of draught-proofing your window, and common when taking the DIY approach, is low-friction seals in loose strips or carriers. This solution involves the rubbing of wipers or blades, which are fixed onto the frame, against the closing window. While they may also be fixed using an adhesive-based foam strip, this method (although cheap) does not comply with British standards and is therefore not recommended.
Using gunned silicone as a sealant
A DIY-friendly and relatively cheap solution to your window draught-proofing needs is gap-filling seals with gunned silicone sealant. In order to ensure that maximum draught-proofing is achieved, you must cover the part of the window that comes into contact with the frame in a release agent. This prevents the sealant from sticking to the window as opposed to the frame. The window is then shut to provide a temporary mould for the sealant before it sets. While it provides an efficient solution to the draught-proofing issue, if it isn’t carried out correctly, the result may look untidy.
There are plenty of houses in the UK that have been rendered, so its not that hard to work out that rendering can be really beneficial for a property. It can be a little confusing to look at your rendering options for the first time however – there are plenty of different reasons whether or not to render, and many different types to choose from. Here at TheGreenAge, we are going to talk you through your options and decide whether rendering is right for you.
Reasons to render
If you have a typical house with exposed brickwork, why might you want to spend a small fortune rendering your walls?
Protection – Render is great for protecting your walls. Over the years, brickwork will get damaged and need repointing, and especially in more exposed areas the brickwork is under a constant state of attack from the elements. Rendering creates a protective barrier from the outside world and ensures your brickwork remains unaffected.
Damp – Solid brick walls are liable to issues from penetrating damp, where water seeps through the brickwork. This is especially the case in exposed areas. Putting a render finish on the wall will help stop this and ensure that penetrating damp is not an issue through the brick.
Aesthetics – If your brickwork looks tired or tatty, or if you have a mixture of different types of brickwork, rendering can make the property look a lot more attractive. It will freshen up even the roughest-looking wall and make it look modern and clean.
Insulation and render
Until recently you had a simple choice: to render or not. Now it makes sense to insulate your external solid walls and render at the same time. You can find out much more about external wall insulation here.
What type of render should I choose for my home?
So you want to render or externally insulate your home? There are so many types of render out there it can be a bit confusing. Let’s take you through some of the options available to you:
Acrylic is a relatively cheap render, which makes it a good option if you are on a budget. It also holds vibrant colours for longer, great for instance if you want a nice brick-red render. The disadvantage is that it does not breathe, so if you want air to get to the bricks and insulation underneath, acrylic is not going to work for you. More about Acrylic Render…
Mineral render is breathable, has a quick drying time, is highly impact resistant, and very durable. It falls somewhere in the middle in terms of price, so it a is a good option for many properties. Breathability is obviously very important for some insulation systems, so that can make mineral the preferred option for many of these installs. More About Mineral Render ….
Silicone or silicone silicate render is a top of the range system that has a number of fantastic advantages.
It is the easiest system to apply. Thin coat silicone renders can be applied to a correctly prepared surface in just a few hours.
It is hydrophobic (which makes it a self-cleaning render). The silicone render system repels water, meaning any dirt particles are washed away by the rain.
It is the most flexible system on the market, making cracking over its lifetime less likely. The Silicone render system should be applied along with a fibreglass mesh layer which provides extra flexibility.
It is highly durable, with some manufacturers offering over 25 years warranty.
It is breathable. Unlike acrylic and cement renders which seal off the wall, silicone render is breathable.
So, there is very little to say against silicone render. The few drawbacks are that you cannot apply it in cold weather as it takes a while to dry in colder conditions. It is also more expensive than the other types of render – you get what you pay for, as they say! Read More about Silicone render…
How long will render last?
Render will last a long time – the design life is around 30 years, and our partners Be Constructive EWI Ltd will guarantee your render for 25 years. In reality, it should last even longer. There are plenty of rendered properties around the UK that have not needed work for 50 years or more. It really is a long term investment on your property.
Render can be pretty much any colour you like – the pigment is just mixed in with the render. The advantage of doing this is that the colour is much more durable than simply painting the house. A painted wall will peel and lose colour over time, but coloured render will last much longer and provide a much better-looking finish. Read more about Coloured render…
If there is one relic of the 60s and 70s that some people really hate with a passion it is pebbledash. The great thing about pebbledash render is that it is unbelievably strong. Unfortunately, that also means it is really tricky to strip it off and start again. One way of getting around this is to insulate over the top and then render – this is a great way to avoid the costly exercise of stripping the pebbledash, and you get a great layer of insulation at the same time.
How much does it cost?
Rendering is not a cheap exercise. It will involve scaffolding if you have a two storey or higher wall. If you have existing render it will need stripping, plus it is a fairly labour-intensive job. A typical cost might be £60 per square meter to apply, with an additional cost for stripping render. When you see the cost of external wall insulation at £100 per square meter, it really does make sense to insulate at the same time as render.
Think we missed something? Do you have a different opinion?
As we mentioned in our Introduction, there are two main ways to insulate your loft: one is via the rafters and the other is by insulating your joists. Insulating the joists is often the easier of the options and especially makes sense if you have no real plans to use the loft space.
Key points before you start
If your loft is easy to access, the insulating process should be pretty straightforward and can be undertaken as a DIY job. However, if you have any doubt in your own ability to carry out the work, we recommend getting a professional to do it.
Normally, people use mineral wool (either glass fibre or Rockwool) to do the job and if you intend to do the same it is imperative you wear protective clothing, goggles and a face mask, since the wool is an irritant.
You can use sheep wool insulation, which is much nicer to handle, 100% sustainable and actually is more breathable than the other types of wool insulation. If you are happy to pay a little extra we really recommend using this.
As a final warning, never stand between joists otherwise you will more than likely come through the ceiling which is never ideal. Using a board supported by several joists is the best way of working in the loft area regardless of whether you are insulating the joists or the rafters.
Preparing the loft space ready to insulate
Before you get to the business end of installing loft insulation up in your roof, you need to make sure you have prepared the loft space and also bought the right quantity of materials to do the job. Below is a quick step-by-step guide on what you should do before you begin any work – but before this a quick word of warning!
Please remember not to step in between the joists – otherwise you will end up falling through the loft! Make sure you only stand of the joists themselves, ideally using a plank as a kneeling board.
A kneeling board should straddle several joists, thereby spreading the weight more evenly and reducing the load on the joist structure. The board should go across at least 3 joists to ensure it spreads the weight sufficiently. We also recommend covering your skin with suitable clothing and using a face mask, as stray fibreglass can act as an irritant if it comes into contact with skin.
Before installing the loft insulation:
Clean the space between the joists by vacuuming between them, removing any dust that may have settled there over time.
Make sure you pay attention to any cracks, dry rot or damage to the joists. If the are looks unsafe to work in, stop what you are doing and immediately seek professional help to repair these areas.
Ensure good lighting in the loft to provide decent visibility to help you do the work.
If you have boards fixed to your joists you need to remove these before you begin insulating the loft space.
Once you have the loft space ready to insulation we recommend doing a quick equipment check – below is a list of all the equipment you will need:
Tough pair of scissors to cut the loft insulation
Protective overalls and gloves when handling mineral wool (otherwise it is itchy!)
A disposable mask
The protective overalls, gloves, goggles and mask are really worth using – the mineral wool insulation most people tend to use to insulate the loft is incredibly itchy, so making sure your skin is covered is a good way of avoiding this.
Using sheep wool insulation is another way to get around the itch issue.
Measuring the size of your loft
After you have cleared bulky objects you can see the area more clearly on what you can insulate. When measuring your loft space you need to start with the following:
Take a measuring device and measure the whole area of your loft (this is simply the width multiplied by the length).
Take into consideration the thickness you want to insulate to and if there is any pre-existing insulation in place, we recommend using 300mm if using wool insulation and 150mm if using the rigid insulating boards like Celotex or Kingspan.
Measure the width of your joists – for example our wool insulation comes in two widths 380mm and 570mm – the idea is you go for the one that is closest to width of your joists so it minimises cutting.
Measure the height of your joists – normally this is about 100mm. This means that if you are looking to insulate to a depth of 300mm in total, you will first lay down a layer of 100mm thick wool between the joists, then use 200mm thick wool laid across the joists at a 90 degree angle.
Write down these measurements on a piece of paper and then take them with you to a DIY shop to buy the insulation or visit an online retailer. Just a word of warning: insulating wool is really bulky and so unless you have a huge car, you might be better off having it delivered directly to your home.
Installing loft insulation between the joists
Insulating the loft at joist level is actually pretty easy to do as a DIY job, but if you feel uncomfortable doing the work then please call in a professional. Since different insulation products have slightly different insulating properties, building regulations use a U-value that needs to be attained to conform. This allows you to calculate the thickness of your chosen insulation product required to conform with building regulations, for example if you opt to use mineral wool, you will need to use 270mm-thick insulation to reach the 0.16 U-value specified in building regs.
To insulate your loft at joist level, please follow the steps below:
STEP 1: The first thing to do is to check whether there are light fittings that protrude between the joists (e.g. a GU10 spotlight will always have the fitting protruding into the loft), if there are, these will require capping prior to laying any insulation. These caps, sometimes referred to as downlight fire hoods or insulation guards, allow sufficient space around the light fitting for the heat to dissipate to stop the light getting too warm. Each light fitting will require a cap to prevent this overheating – they are simply placed over the light fitting and then you are good to go with the insulation.
STEP 2: The first layer of wool insulation needs to be laid between the joists, so you need to measure the distance between the joists to ensure you can get the right width of product. Typically the gap between the joists is either 380mm or 570mm so you will need a width of insulation similar to this, so it can fit snugly between the joists. Most insulation you buy will be partially perforated, allowing you to cut the roll of insulation easily to produce either 2 rolls that are 570mm wide or 3 rolls that our 380mm wide. If the insulation isn’t partially perforated, you will need to use scissors to cut it to the necessary thickness.
STEP 3: Once the insulation is the correct width, you need to roll it out between the joists; lightly press the insulation material to fit between the joists, but be careful not to overdo it and compress the material. Joists tend to be only about 100mm high (although this can vary), so match the insulation thickness you buy with the joist height – once installed, the insulation should come up to the top of the joists. You will need to work the insulation around and over any downlight caps that may now be present.
STEP 4: You now need to spread an additional 170mm – 200mm thick insulation at 90 degrees to the joists. Starting at the furthest point from the loft hatch slowly unroll the insulation over the top of the joists – make sure you use kneeling boards to spread the weight load and reduce the risk of ceiling collapsing as you move around in the loft space. This second thicker layer of insulation should have no gaps between the strips that you lay out – it should produce a continuous layer of insulation – you will no longer be able to see the joists. This will take the total thickness of the insulation in the loft to 270mm – 300mm as specified by building regulations. You may like to install even thicker than this, but the energy savings of doing so will be negligible.
STEP 5: As a final step you will need to insulate the loft hatch, by strapping on some material to the top of the hatch. This can be stapled to the top of the loft hatch, helping to preserve a consistent thermal barrier. You can also fit draught proof strips on the outside of the hatch to stop gusts of cold air in the winter. A really easy way to do this is to fill a black bag with insulation and then tape this down to the top of the hatch using thick tape.
Although 270mm – 300mm is the optimum depth recommended for mineral wool, but if you are planning on using one of the other insulating materials such as loose fill, it is worth reading the guidelines provided by the manufacturer to ensure you use a sufficient volume to give the required depth. Putting more than 270mm on insulation within your loft (e.g. 350mm) will help you heat your house for less, but the savings equal the cost of laying the additional insulation so you may deem this unnecessary.
Storing items in the loft but still insulating to building regulations
As we have said, the more insulation the better and to adhere to building regs you need 270mm of wool insulation as a minimum. One of the issues with putting this much insulation in the loft space is that you lose sight of the joists. Many people like to use the loft space as storage, however, so will insulate only to the top of the joists and then attach chipboard directly to the joists making a solid, walkable surface. Obviously if you install 300mm this is not possible, so prior to STEP 4 above, you will need to install loft stilts (or loft lifters).
These are relatively simple to install, and are essentially strong plastic stilts that raise the height of the joists, allowing you to install the extra insulation and then attach chipboard on top of the them. This allows you to still produce a useable surface while also maximising the thickness of insulation you install.
Using rigid insulation board as loft insulation
Some people may prefer to use rigid insulation board to insulate the loft space – for example Celotex or Kingspan – the process is pretty similar to above, although you will need less depth to achieve the same insulation levels (than mineral wool). You will also need a hacksaw to cut the insulation to size. If you do decide to use rigid insulation board, then you will still need to use chipboard if you want to walk on it.
Insulating water tanks in the loft
One issue that arises from insulating the loft space just above the ceiling (i.e. in the joists) is that the loft space itself will become incredibly cold. During very cold weather the temperature could even become sub-zero, which if you have water tanks in the loft, could be a big issue!
If you do have cold water tanks in the loft, first of all, never insulate underneath them; always allow heat to travel up through the roof into the bottom of the cold water tank. Also, it is worth insulating the cold water tanks themselves and lagging any pipework you can see in the loft that sits above the insulation you have installed in the joists. The kit required to insulate the cold water tanks is known as the Byelaw 30 and can be purchased from any good DIY store.
Internal wall insulation is a great option in solid wall properties where external insulation is not practical or permissible; for example in listed buildings, conservation areas, where you wish to preserve the look of the building, where access restricts external work, or in flats.
How does internal insulation work?
There are a couple of methods to insulate a solid wall internally and all will decrease the floorspace of a room (as per the thickness of the insulation board or stud wall you use). We recommend getting a professional in to complete this type of work, and you do not undertake it as a DIY job unless you are very experienced.
An alternative to conventional internal wall insulation is using insulating wallpaper such as Wallrock Thermal Liner, which at only 4mm gives you some of the benefits of internal solid wall insulation, but has a far smaller impact on the size of your room. It doesn’t have the same insulating properties as proper internal wall insulation, but it is a much cheaper option.
Internal insulation and damp
Unfortunately, internal insulation will not be particularly effective against damp, when compared to external insulation. We recommend that any damp issues be dealt with before insulation is installed. All internal insulation should be installed with a vapour membrane.
Insulating directly to the wall
Fixing the insulation directly to the wall is ideal if floorspace is at a premium, but must only be done where there are no damp issues whatsoever, and the existing plaster is smooth and even. This approach is the most straightforward, as the plasterboard with insulation is attached to the wall using screws or adhesive. This approach requires a solid form of insulation such as Celotex or Kingspan, rather than wool type insulation. The table below shows the various U-values for different types of insulation.
Thickness of insulation
Polyurethane / Phenolic foam / Polyisocyanurate
Foamed glass (with plaster finish)
Insulating between battensSource: Energy Saving Trust
In this internal solid wall insulation method, timber battens are fitted between the wall and the plasterboard, with insulation between. This provides an optimum thickness of insulation and allows either rigid board insulation or wool type insulation to be fitted, making it a versatile and efficient way to insulate the wall.
Thickness of insulation
Polyurethane / Phenolic foam / Polyisocyanurate2
* Values assuming construction: 215mm existing solid brickwork with plaster finish (U = 2.1W/m2K) 1 Source: EST; 2 Source: Celotex
Source: Energy Saving Trust
Stud wall with insulation
This form of internal solid wall insulation is generally recommended for properties with uneven internal walls and those with damp issues. It also uses up the most internal floor space compared with the other options. This is because it leaves a gap of around 30mm between the outer wall and a stud wall, to which the insulation is attached. Timber stud can use many types of insulation with sheep wool, rock wool, Celotex or Kingspan fixed to the back of the plasterboard.
Reducing thermal bridging
It is really important that the installer avoids thermal bridging. With so much wood used in the installation, it is easy for this to form cold bridges, which allows the heat to dissipate from the room through the poorly insulated supporting frame. A good installer will avoid this by taking particular care around the door and window reveals, as well as the windowsill.
Cost and financing internal wall insulation
As a general rule, internal wall insulation will cost around £70-100 per metre, depending on the material you use.
Currently, internal wall insulation is being offered as part of the Green Homes Grant which last until March 2022. This grant covers up to £10,000 of the full cost, so it is worth looking in to!
Think we missed something? Do you have a different opinion?
If your house was built prior to the 1930s, the chances are that it will have solid walls – simply a solid layer of masonry bricks. Insulating your walls – regardless of whether they are cavity or solid (or even timber-framed) – is a great way to make your home more energy efficient. The insulation will minimise heat loss in the winter, saving you money on your heating bills. It will also stop your home getting too warm in the summer, helping to keep your home at a more comfortable temperature.
According to research, twice as much heat could be lost through an un-insulated solid wall as through an un-insulated cavity wall. However, the great news is that solid walls can be insulated, both internally and externally.
The science behind insulation
If hot air and cold air are partitioned by a wall, heat will transfer through the wall, eventually cooling the room until an equilibrium is reached (where the outside temperature is equal to the inside temperature). In reality this very rarely happens, because rooms tend to be heated; so as heat escapes through the wall, more hot air is supplied by your heating system, keeping it at a comfortable ambient temperature. If the thermal gradient is larger, for example on a cold and wintry day, the movement of the thermal energy across the wall will be accelerated.
Insulating a solid masonry wall helps to provide a thermal barrier, which helps to slow the movement of heat escaping out into the external environment. Less heating is therefore needed to keep the house at the required temperature.
Types of solid wall insulation for your home
Both internal and external insulation are great at keeping your home warmer, lowering your heating bills and cutting carbon emissions. However, both solutions have a different impact on your home, which is explained in the following section:
Internal solid wall insulation
There are a couple of methods to insulate a solid wall internally, which are either to use a rigid insulation board or build a stud wall. We recommend you get a professional in to complete this type of work, and you do not undertake it as DIY unless you are very experienced. Internal solid wall insulation can be as thick as 100mm, so your room will ‘shrink’ wherever it has an external supporting wall.
One way to avoid losing floor space is by using insulating wallpaper, which at only 10mm gives you some benefit of internal solid wall insulation, without impacting on the size of your room. However, the insulating wallpaper will not give you the same performance of dry-lining with the insulation boards unfortunately.
Advantages of internal wall insulation
Cheaper than external insulation
No aesthetic change to the outside of your home
Works well when the home itself is going through a process of internal renovation
Disadvantages of internal wall insulation
Will reduce the room you have in the living areas by up to 10cm, depending on the materials used
Won’t necessarily get rid of any damp problems, which need to be tackled separately
External solid wall insulation
For external wall insulation, you need to employ a professional and you also need to consider local building regulations. This is because this process involves covering the original brickwork and could significantly alter the current appearance of the property, making out of step with the local area. Once any planning permission has been granted, the home can be insulated using an adhesive material which is fixed to the wall, then plastered over.
The finish applied to the external wall can be any combination of texturing, painting, tiling, brick slips, masonry work and/or cladding.
Advantages of solid wall insulation
Less disruption to the household, as the work is carried out outside
Renews your home’s external appearance and increases the lifetime of the brickwork
Complements other refurbishment work
An opportunity to fill cracks and holes in the brickwork, which will help reduce draughts(see Draught Proofing for more information)
Disadvantages of solid wall insulation
More expensive than internal insulation
Planning permission may be required
Any work needs to comply with local building regulation
May not solve all damp issues
Work is not recommended if the building is not structurally sound
Costs of solid wall insulation
Additional costs for downpipes, gas pipes, boiler flues and dishes.
Subject to render strength – additional cost to remove old/weak render.
Potential requirement for scaffolding – around £15/m2.
Measuring the effectiveness of solid wall insulation
The R-value is the measure of thermal resistance used in the building and construction industry today. The higher the R-value, the better the insulating properties of a material – so you should be looking to insulate your house with materials displaying a high R-value. Confusingly, you may hear the word U-value also bandied around. This is exactly the opposite, describing the ability of a material to conduct heat, so you want your insulating material to have a low U-value.
Installing solid wall insulation
Interested in getting solid wall installation? Lucky for you, we work in partnership with EWI Store who specialise in external wall insulation systems! They have a great team who are always happy to help with your enquiries.
A home can lose as much as 35% of its heat through uninsulated external walls. By investing in cavity wall insulation, you can significantly reduce the heat loss from your home. The concept of insulating a cavity wall is really very simple – it involves filling the cavity between the two skins of masonry bricks with an insulating material, which slows the movement of heat through the wall. Maintaining the heat inside your home keeps you warm and cosy when you need to be. It also works in reverse by keeping your house cooler in the summer months.
Installing cavity wall insulation in your home will not only help to decrease your heating bills by saving energy lost through the walls, it will also help to reduce your carbon footprint by limiting the amount of CO² and other greenhouse gases emitted from your property.
Many houses since the late 1930s were built with a cavity between the inner and outer walls. Because of this cavity, many of Britain’s homes have thermal performances which are well below the standards required by current building regulations. These properties suffer from unacceptably high levels of heat and energy loss through the walls. A system was introduced in the 1970s to inject insulation into these cavity walls.
Can I get cavity wall insulation?
There are two things you need to determine to see whether you can benefit from retrofitting cavity wall insulation in your home.
The first thing is to work out if you actually have cavity walls – this might seem stupid, but you can not inject insulation if there isn’t a cavity and they do look quite similar to solid walls!
A cavity wall is made up of two masonry brick walls running parallel to one another with a space (cavity) between them of at least 50mm. Masonry bricks are very absorbent, so moisture absorbed by the outer wall typically drains through the cavity, rather than coming into the home, helping to prevent damp issues. This type of wall construction became the norm in the 1930s superseding solid walls and as time has gone on, the size of the cavity between the two skins of brick has continued to grow – a typical cavity wall now is between 280-300mm thick.
You can easily identify a cavity wall by the pattern produced by the brickwork, which is known as stretcher bond, where are the bricks are running in the same direction as one another – there are no ‘half bricks’. This is obviously harder to do if your walls are cladded or painted and in this case you might need to call in a professional (although sometimes you can see original brickwork in the loft space). In addition cavity walls tend to be over 250mm in width, with more recent cavity walls closer to 300mm. If you can see lots of half bricks in your wall, you have a solid wall with no cavity, so unfortunately cavity wall insulation is a no-go. In this case, you could look into external wall insulation as an alternative.
Once you have established that you have cavity walls, you need to determine the size of the cavity and whether it has previously been insulated. A registered installer will need to come and carry out a boroscope inspection. This involves drilling a test hole into the wall and checking with a camera to see if the cavity has previously been filled and the size of the cavity (ideally over 50mm). If this shows the cavity is unfilled, you could indeed benefit from cavity wall insulation.
Although some builders began insulating cavity walls in the late 1970s, it only became compulsory under building regulations to do so during the 90s. As such there are many properties in the UK that currently have unfilled cavity walls. The good news it that these can be insulated very easily!
How does cavity wall insulation work?
If a hot room is partitioned from the cold by a wall, heat will move through the wall, eventually cooling the room until an equilibrium is reached, where the outside temperature is equal to the inside temperature. In reality this very rarely happens, because rooms tend to be heated. This means that as some heat escapes through the wall, more hot air is supplied, keeping it at a comfortable ambient temperature. If the thermal gradient is larger, (e.g. on a cold and wintry day), the movement of thermal energy across the wall will be accelerated.
Insulating a cavity wall helps to provide a thermal barrier, which slows the flow of heat out of a room considerably. By slowing down the rate at which heat escapes from the home, less heating is needed to keep the house at the required temperature. In the summer, the reverse happens; hot air outside the home can’t get in as easily, which means you don’t need to use energy to keep the home cool. Therefore in both summer and winter, cavity wall insulation can make an enormous difference to your energy bills. The process is relatively quick and inexpensive, so it is certainly worth considering.
How do you insulate cavity walls?
The first thing to note is that you cannot retrofit cavity wall insulation as a do-it-yourself job – it is a job that needs to be carried out by a professional.
Once the cavity has been confirmed by the boroscopic inspection, the installer will drill a series of 22mm diameter holes into the mortar between the bricks. With specialist equipment, the installer will then inject the cavity with the insulating material, through each of these holes. Once the whole of the cavity wall has been filled, the mortar will be made good either with plugs or mortar created to match the existing colour, so the job will be barely noticeable.
The insulating material pumped into the cavity is normally a type of glass wool, or in some instances insulating beads and once installed will offer insulation for the life of the building. The whole process should only take about 2 hours but obviously if the cavity wall area is especially large you will need to leave more time for the job to be completed.
What materials are used for cavity wall insulation?
Expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam, loose polystyrene beads, or wool. EPS is the most expensive option for a reason; it is a premium product and we would always recommend spending the extra money for the best results.
Savings from cavity wall insulation
Although the savings from cavity wall insulation vary greatly from property to property, for an average size three bedroom home, the energy savings from installing cavity wall insulation should amount to £250 per year. With an installation cost of £600-1000, the savings you create from installing the cavity wall insulation should pay for the work in under 4 years.
Getting cavity wall insulation in the Green Homes Grant
If you are eligible, you can now get a grant of up to £10,000, using the Green Homes Grant scheme. The grants are available until March 2022 and are being offered to properties in England.
There are two grants within the Green Homes Grant. First is the £5000 which most are eligible for if they have cavity walls. However, if you are receiving one of the below benefits, then you may be eligible for the £10,000 grant.
Income-Based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
Income-Based Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
Contribution-Based Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
If you are interested in the Green Homes Grant, we advise you look at the Government website.
Paying for cavity wall insulation yourself
Unfortunately schemes like the Green Deal have now finished, but the Green Homes Grant is still available for cavity wall insulation.
If you are interested in getting cavity wall insulation installed, we work in partnership with EWI Store who have a network of approved installers. So please fill in the form at the bottom of this page, and we will be in contact with you shortly.
Insulating your cavity walls will help you to heat your home more efficiently, saving about £250 for a typical 3 bed home.
Cavity wall insulation will payback in 3 – 4 years for the investment giving lower heating bills .
According to the Energy Saving Trust, cavity wall installation can reduce carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) by 560kg, according to the Energy Saving Trust.
Approved cavity wall installation work is guaranteed for 25 years by the CIGA (Cavity Insulation Guarantee Agency).
Cavity wall insulation may not be suitable within your home, if it has a wall exposed to strong rainy wind.
Do not undertake the installation if the home suffers from damp problems – seek an assessment from a professional surveyor first
Cavity wall insulation can cost anywhere between £600 – 1000 (however with subsidies, the cost may end up at the lower end of this estimate – speak to your Energy provider).
Installing Cavity Wall Insulation
Need cavity wall insulation? We have scoured the country for the best tradespeople, so that we can make sure we only recommend those we really trust.
If you would like us to find you a local insulation installer, just fill in the form below and we will be in touch shortly!
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