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Insulation and draught proofing
     
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Insulation, insulation, insulation
Domestic heating currently accounts for 25% of UK energy use; we use so much energy for heating because many British houses have little or no insulation, are draughty and lack basic energy efficiency technologies. Cold damp homes cause excess winter mortality, particularly among the elderly, and living in a cold house greatly increases the risk of contracting a serious illness.

Installing better insulation will address these problems and is the most effective way to improve domestic energy efficiency and raise the standard of UK housing. As well as reducing the carbon emissions from domestic energy use, better insulated homes would save money – especially as fuel prices keep going up.

There are many easy and inexpensive ways to improve the energy efficiency of your home and under the CERT grants scheme almost anyone can get help towards the cost of some of the most effective methods including cavity wall and loft insulation.

Insulating and draught proofing products
The table below outlines the main ways homes or other buildings can be adapted to keep warm more easily. It also gives some of the latest cost breakdowns, information about payback periods and yearly carbon dioxide (CO2) savings. More detail is given in the text below.

 Measure

Annual Saving

Installed cost

Payback period (years)

Yearly CO2 saving

Cavity wall insulation

£115

£500

4 years

610kg

External wall insulation

£400

£10500 - £14500

26 years

2100kg

Internal Wall insulation

£380

£5500 - £8500

15 years

2000kg

Floor insulation

£50

£100 (DIY)

2 years

270kg

Filling gaps between floor and skirting board

£20

£20

1 year

110kg

Loft insulation
(full installation of 270mm)

£110

£250

2 years

800kg

Loft insulation
(top up installation from existing 50mm to deeper 270mm)

£30

£500 (installed)
£200 (DIY)

16 years (installed)
6 years (DIY)

230kg

Draught Proofing

£20

£200 (installed)
£90 (DIY)

10 years (installed)
5 years (DIY)

up to 155kg

Hot water tank jacket

£35

£12 (DIY)

6 months

190kg

Primary pipe insulation

£10

£10 (DIY)

1 year

60kg

Double glazing

about £90

Varies

Varies

740kg

These costs and payback periods do not take into account grants that may be available under the CERT scheme. Also, with fuel costs expected to rise dramatically over the next few years, annual savings and payback periods will become more favourable.

Insulating walls
Houses lose most heat through the walls and the roof, so this is where to prioritise insulating the home. Insulating the walls and the loft can save about 2 tonnes of CO2 and reduce annual heating bills by £200. The environmental impact of the home can be reduced still further by using environmentally friendly insulation materials instead of the traditional fibreglass. These alternatives include sheep’s wool, shredded recycled newspaper, hemp and flax.

Most homes built since the 1920’s have cavity walls, with an air gap between two layers of brick. By insulating this space, heating bills (and CO2 emissions) could be reduced by 15%.Uninsulated homes with solid walls, such as Victorian terraced houses, lose even more heat through the walls than uninsulated cavity walled houses. The solution is solid wall insulation. This comes in a variety of types; flexible thermal lining or rigid board for internal fitting, or cladding and render for external application. Solid wall insulation is more expensive to install than cavity wall insulation, but delivers greater savings and shorter payback periods.

Insulating floors
The next step is to install floor insulation, and fill any cracks between floorboards and round the skirting boards. For homes with wooden floors, insulation can be installed by taking up the floorboards and laying insulation which is supported by netting.

Insulating hot water system
A simple but effective way to reduce waste heat is to insulate hot water pipes and fit a jacket to the hot water tank. The jacket should be at least 75mm thick. This will cut heat loss from the tank by 75%, and typically will pay for itself in reduced heating bills within 6 months. Pipe insulation is easy to install as a DIY job if the pipes are accessible. Professional help may be required to fit insulation where access to the pipes is awkward.

photo - living room

Windows and Doors
Single glazed windows are a significant cause of heat loss, and although it is fairly expensive to install double glazing, this can halve the amount of heat lost from windows, and save nearly £100 per year on heating bills. Costs can be reduced by only fitting double glazing in the rooms which are used and heated most regularly, such as the living room.

A more affordable option for reducing heat loss through windows (and doors) is to fit heavy curtains. Choose lined curtains to achieve an even better insulating effect. Hang curtains close to the window recess to increase effectiveness as a barrier to heat loss.

Draught proofing is another way to reduce heat loss through doors and windows and it is an easy DIY job to get it fitted. There are a range of products available, from foams and sealants to brushes, rubber strips and shaped plastic.

Warm Streets in Amber Valley
Amber Valley Borough Council and Apex Carbon Solutions are working in partnership to offer loft insulation from £49, cavity wall insulation from £99 and huge subsidies on external wall insulation. Replacement boilers are also available from £400 and they can arrange other improvements such as solar panels. Loft and cavity wall insulation may be free to those entitled to a range of benefits. For more details see: http://www.apexcarbonsolutions.co.uk/ or phone them free on 0800 043 9569 (or 0333 577 9569 if calling from a mobile)

Further Advice and Grants
A wide range of grants and discounts is available from the government, utility companies and local contractors. Action Heat, Marches Energy Agency’s affordable warmth team, has up to date information on these. Other help may be available depending on a number of factors including your circumstances, existing insulation, type and age of property and where you live. Contact your energy supplier or the Energy Saving Trust (see below).

Further information
Action Heat - 01743 277123 Check for latest offers  at www.actionheat.org
Energy Saving Trust - 0800 512012 www.energysavingtrust.org.uk includes online database of grants and discounts.

Information from Marches Energy Agency Updated June 2010 – www.mea.org.uk

 
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