We talk a lot about the UK insulation industry; the products, the costs, the methods. For once, we thought it would be worth looking around the globe at other countries and if we could learn anything about insulation that could apply to UK homes.
The UK in fact has some of the lowest gas prices in Europe, so why does it cause so many more problems than other countries? The key lies in insulation – and the UK has some of the worst insulated homes in Europe. In Scandinavia, where insulation is absolutely vital, deaths from the cold are much lower than in Britain. That just should not be the case, when insulation is such an easy way to reduce your bills. There are some grants available now that can help pay for the cost of the installation however, so make sure you check out our insulation page if you need insulation yourself.
Germany leading the way in Europe
Germany really has taken the lead in many areas of the energy industry, from producing clean energy, to top insulation standards, to green roof technology. It also invented the Passivhaus Standard. This is a building standard designed to make homes super efficient – making them ultra insulated and airtight, with excellent ventilation and heat recovery systems. It means that heating is almost unnecessary – and indeed, many do not come with any conventional heating at all. The UK is heading towards this philosophy in its code for sustainable homes, but it hasn’t quite taken the idea to heart like Germany has.
Like Germany, Norway takes insulation really seriously. In a country where temperatures drop down to -20, home insulation standards have been in place since the Second World War and homes are generally very well insulated compared to the UK. Deaths because of the cold are also much lower in Norway – largely because of these top standards.
Insulation in Australia?
It might sound odd, but insulation is taken very seriously in many warm climates too. Townships situated within the Australian deserts often have a huge range of temperatures over the course of a year. This difference, often from 45 to 0, creates extremely difficult and uncomfortable living conditions. However, just insulating the roofs and the walls of properties allow for cool air to be trapped in the house during summer, and the building to maintain its heat throughout winter. Insulating and making a property airtight – without draughts – prevents the warm outside air from getting into the house, and helps improve the efficiency of the air conditioning. This leads to savings on the energy bills as well as a more comfortable living environment. This is a lesson for those of us in the UK who say our home is warm enough and doesn’t need insulation – you couldn’t be more wrong – the more insulation, the cooler your house will be in the summer months.
Extremely cold climates
The UK, whilst getting below freezing at times, rarely experiences extreme temperatures. Where it gets down to -20 degrees or more, like Canada and Alaska for example, insulation is even more important. There is some research to suggest that at very low temperatures, blown, loose insulation and wool/fibre insulation is less effective. As a result, airtight foam or rigid insulation is preferable in order to ensure effective insulation at these temperatures.
Economic trouble in Greece
Greece has, in recent years, faced some turbulent times. Job cuts, high taxation and tough economic measures have created a dangerous scenario for the domestic homeowner. In fact, it was so tough that domestic fuel use dropped by around 2/3rds simply because of the number of people who could not afford to have their heating on during the winter. A few easy steps per household, taken out prior to the county’s problems, would have provided the ideal solution and protected them from the cold. As it is, thousands are freezing with only short-term fuel subsidies to give them temporary relief. A more long-term solution would be to provide the public with stability, in the form of insulation.
Insulation is important around the world, however in most cases it is overlooked. We hope that the UK can improve on the currently insulation levels, and homeowners can start to protect themselves from cold weather and volatile energy prices.