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Insulation

The first step to saving energy and reducing heating bills should always be insulation.

Installing or upgrading the insulation of almost any house or building will give the fastest economic return on any investment in any type of heating system, with the added benefit of having the greatest impact on lowering CO2 emissions.

isoenergy typically recommends all natural sheep's wool insulation for its excellent performance and environmentally friendly source.

It has worked in nature for millennia and will work for your property too!

Heat will always flow from a warm area to a cold one. The colder it is outside, the faster heat from your home will escape into the surrounding air.

Insulation makes it much more difficult for heat to pass up through your house by providing a layer of material which has lots of air pockets in it. These pockets trap heat, cutting what is known as the U value of the property.

The U value measures how quickly heat is lost. The lower the U value, the less energy you need to keep your home warm. Loft insulation cuts your loft's U value from around 2.3 (for an un-insulated loft) to 0.16 W/m2K, a reduction of around 95%.

You may on occasions also see references to an R value. An R value is a measure of thermal resistance and is the inverse of a U value, so the higher the R value the better. The NIA recommend lofts should be insulated to an R value of between 6.1 and 7 Km2/W. The R value is usually displayed on the packaging of insulation and R values can be added together to reach the total required.

Installing or upgrading the insulation of almost any house or building will give the fastest economic return on any investment in any type of heating system, with the added benefit of having the greatest impact on lowering CO2 emissions.

It is also possible to get financial support from the Government in the form of the Green Deal scheme. The Green Deal is the Governments flagship scheme aimed at improving energy efficiency at a domestic level. For more information, visit the Green Deal website.

There are seven main types of insulation identified by isoenergy that can immediately reduce fuel bills and minimise CO2 emissions:

Loft Insulation is the cheapest to install and gives a great and immediate payback: you can usually feel the effects on the day of installation as you feel the speed at which your property warms up!

Cavity wall Insulation is normally quite straightforward and usually completed in a relatively few hours by specialist companies who will recommend materials depending on the construction of your building. However care should be taken with old or listed buildings as the insulation could affect the fabric of the building with potentially disastrous consequences.

Wall Insulation if there is no wall cavity, the solution can be more expensive and problematic, however there are new products emerging each year that can improve the ease of retro fit and the effectiveness of insulation in innovative ways with stunning results.

Floor Insulation is often overlooked but it can be (after Loft Insulation) the second most effective form. Like wall Insulation above, it often requires raising floorboards or floor height (for solid floors). This, combined with the laying of underfloor heating, will transform the energy efficiency of your house and give good payback both financially and environmentally.

Double glazing or even triple glazing is costly and usually only justified when the windows need replacing anyway. Modern triple glazed windows, which are argon filled and manufactured with low emission glass, have a dramatic effect on a building, but unfortunately at quite a high cost and a long payback period.

Where double glazing is not possible or desirable, one should consider fitting secondary glazing which can be removed during milder weather.

Hot water cylinder jackets are the way forward. If you do not have one fitted you should be ashamed of yourself! Go out and buy one today!

General Insulation is the key. In older houses the exchange of warm air from inside the house with cold air from outside is one of the largest mechanisms for energy loss. It is always worthwhile doing whatever can be done to reduce draughts. Good draught proofing contributes enormously to the feeling of comfort in a room and may even allow you to reduce the temperature on the thermostat and feel just as warm. Without resorting to any of the above (or better still as well as any or all of the above) it is usually worthwhile fitting heavy curtains to all windows and doors. Further draught proofing around doors and windows is cheap and easy, as is fitting flue stops such as balloons in chimneys in order to stop draughts. (By the way, turning down the thermostat is the best cost-saving method there is when heating a house!).

For more information please contact isoenergy on 01293 821345