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Saving Energy & Money with Loft & Roof Insulation

Have you ever walked down your street after it has snowed and looked at all the homes with snow on the roofs and all those without? This is generally a good indication as to who has the best insulation and who needs to improve theirs. In your home up to a quarter of the heat produced in your house can be lost through the roof if you don’t have the correct insulation; this wastes energy and money, with you having to heat your house far more than you would if you had more effective insulation.

Putting insulation in your loft is often quite a simple task and the initial outlay is far less than the savings you will make over the years. Good standard loft insulation also lasts forty years, so it will pay for itself time and time again. Many homes have insulation but this is only to 100mm, with the maximum of 270mm being recommended to save you the most money. In fact, if everyone in the UK had loft insulation up to 270mm approximately £500million would be saved on energy bills a year and a whopping 2.7million tonnes of Carbon Dioxide.

If you have no insulation at all at the moment, you will be looking at £100-£350 on initial installation costs, with DIY costs varying depending on whether you can install it yourself, but these will normally range from £50-£350. The cost of this will have been regained in just up to two years, with an average saving of £175 per year in your energy bills and approximately 720kg of Carbon Dioxide.

If you already have 100mm of insulation, you will be looking at the same initial installation costs and DIY costs, with the costs being regained over a slightly longer period from around four years. The average saving will be around £25 per year and approximately 110kg of Carbon Dioxide. Please note: these figures are based an average three bedroom semi-detached home with gas heating.

Types of insulation & how to install them.

The type of insulation you need to install in your home will depend entirely upon what type of roof space you have; some will be easy to access, while others may be harder to do so. If you are unsure of how you should be insulating your roof space, then you should seek professional advice before purchasing the insulation. Here are some tips on the types of loft insulation you may require:

Easy Access Loft

If your loft is easy to get into and there don’t appear to be any condensation or damp problems, then insulating this space should be fairly straightforward, and may be something you can install yourself. You will first need to check whether the joists are regular; if so, you should be able to roll out mineral in between these joists. Many lofts may already have this insulation in between the joists, but this is often not up to the highest recommendation.

To ensure you will get the maximum effectiveness from your insulation you should then look at covering the joists in a cross layer of insulation, taking it up to the correct depth. You may need to seek professional help when carrying out this part of the installation.

Lofts as Living Space

If you use your loft as a living space, or are planning on doing so, you will want to look at laying boards on top of the insulation and over the joists. However, this isn’t just a case of insulating in between the joists and placing a board on the top as this won’t reach the maximum thickness.

There are several options that can be carried out to ensure you have the most effective insulation:

1. Raising the floor level

By doing this you can ensure enough mineral wool is placed underneath the new floor, but this may prove quite costly.

2. Rigid insulation boards

These can be installed on top of the mineral wool and joists, with wooden flooring then laid on top of this. It is possible to buy insulation boards that are already attached to floorboards to make this easier.

If you do choose to carry out either one of these methods then you will need to make sure none of the mineral wool is compacted as you lay the floor as this will affect its efficiency.

On the other hand, instead of worrying about insulating the floor you may want to think about insulating the roof of the loft, particularly if you’re thinking of using it as a living space. The insulation can be installed by placing rigid insulation boards between the roof rafters; this can then be covered by plasterboard. If your rafters aren’t deep enough to get maximum insulation, you can use insulated plasterboard to get more efficiency.

Hard to Access Lofts

If you struggle to even get into your loft then insulating it may be an issue. However, there is insulation available that can be blown into the loft by a professional. They will blow fire-retardant loose insulation material into the loft using specialist equipment; this material is normally mineral wool or cellulose fibre and the entire process won’t normally take more than a couple of hours.

Flat Roofs

Insulation in a flat roof should normally be installed from the above layer, with rigid insulation boards added on top of the timber roof surface, with new waterproofing added on top, or it can be added onto the waterproof layer. It is generally recommended to install insulation in your flat roof when your roof needs replacing and it will need to have this insulation in order to adhere to Building Regulations.

You should seek professional help when carrying out this type of insulating, particularly if you want to insulate from underneath as problems with condensation can arise if this isn’t carried out correctly.

Irregular Joists

If your loft joists don’t follow any particular pattern then the standard mineral wool roll probably won’t fit in between the joists. Therefore you may want to look at getting loose insulation, which can be poured in between the joists. This type of insulation normally consists of mineral wool, cork granules, vermiculite or cellulose fibre, but will be just as effective as your standard insulation. You should seek professional help when installing this type of insulation and you may find the floor height will need increasing in order to get the maximum insulation level.

4 Comments to Saving Energy & Money with Loft & Roof Insulation

  1. March 16, 2013 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    Good advice in this one. I have talked to many townhouse owners who experience ice dams late in winter because the builders haven’t installed enough insulation in the loft/attic area. It’s a relatively easy fix, so thank you for pointing it out.

  2. May 21, 2013 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    My home really could do with some roofing insulation as my heating seems to be on most evenings as it’s always so cold! My windows are all double glazed, so I don’t think these are the problem – therefore the heat must be escaping through the roof. Thanks for all your useful info!

  3. August 6, 2013 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    Was considering turning my loft into a bedroom so this came in useful…I never considered raising the floor level, so I’ll have to remember that.

  4. August 6, 2013 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    If you’re unsure what type of insulation will work best with your roof type, it’s best to seek the help of a professional. I know a couple of people that tackled the task alone and it was a bit of a disaster! Great post =)

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