Act now to stay warm and save energy next winter

The summer is here and the last thing any of us are worrying about is keeping our houses warm. Even if you’ve had a new insulated loft conversion done in the last couple of years, chances are the rest of your home could be better insulated.

Two quick insulation wins

I think of my own house and what I could do before next winter. The quickest and cheapest wins are insulating what is known in the business at the ‘opaque elements’ of my home: the exterior walls, the loft and the ground floor, and now, over the summer, is the perfect time to time to get it done.

1.   Insulate the wall cavities

I have considered the pros and cons of cavity wall insulation for many years and have still not done it. Looking at my energy bills over the last year, it’s a no-brainer and I am having it done. I’m not too close to the coast to be classed as “an exposed property” and the work is grant funded through the Warm Front Scheme in England for a few more months. When the Green Deal comes in, in late 2012, the grant will be replaced with a loan.

The cavity wall insulation was not without its problems. Downs Energy arrived to do the job but on opening up the cavities they found that some of them were full with rubble, well above the DPC level. Filling the cavities without removing the rubble would cause bridging of the damp proof course, so they had to be cleared. Several bags of rubble later and a couple of days labour (which was a cost to me) the cavities were clear and filled.

2.   Insulate the roof

Luckily, my loft conversion is already well insulated, but if you need loft insulation it is also grant funded until the Green Deal comes in.  I’ve also insulated the ceiling of my flat roof, which has really improved the heat-retention. However, I will check the eaves and storage area in the loft to ensure it is up to the optimum insulation thickness of 270mm.

3.   Seal the floor

The final task I’m going to complete this year is insulating the ground floor . I have sanded and sealed the original timber floor boards. They are beautiful, but cold air rushes in through the gaps and it is often cold, even on a summer day. The problem I have not yet solved is how to insulate under the floor boards without lifting and re-fitting them: I can get underneath the floor but the space is only 400mm (1’ 4”).

Taking your insulation even further

Next year I will look into improving the energy performance of my single-glazed windows, probably by fitting Slimlite double-glazing units . With two large bay windows (five sash windows in each) and four further large sash windows the refurbishment cost will be much more than what I’ll be spending this year!

If you need advice on what you can do to make your home more energy-efficient, contact me for advice or an energy assessment.

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Energy costs are forever increasing and we are all being asked to reduce our carbon footprint. As part of our architectural services we will give you advice on the actions you could take to make your home more comfortable, to reduce your energy bills and to help towards a low carbon future.

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