by James Bentham (Leeds)
Although you may already have a good quality central heating system, utilising the 100% efficiency of
, you might still be paying for a lot of heating energy that you are not even using, whilst significantly increasing the environmental impact of your home. Making sure your house is properly insulated is essential as the winter months draw in and heating costs go up. There are a number of ways to do it, depending on the type of house you have and your budget, but there is certainly an option for everyone.
The most common form of house insulation, it fills the gaps between the wooden joists in the floor of your loft or attic to stop any rising heat escaping out through any gaps or cracks. The installation process is very straightforward if you only use your attic for storage. If you are considering converting your loft to a usable room, make sure you put down some insulating material before laying the flooring, along with lining the sloping walls with insulation too. The actual insulating material varies in type too. Chances are you will have seen blanket insulation, which looks similar to fibreglass or wool. However, there are several eco-friendly options that you could use instead, such as hemp, wood fibres of even recycled plastic bottles. The gaps between your joists could also be filled with loose material called granular insulation, or even recycled newspaper.
Cavity Wall Insulation
If your house was built after the 1920s, it is likely to have a cavity wall construction. Two principle layers make up the walls, with an air space in between. The gap between the layers can therefore be filled up with insulating material, seriously reducing heat loss through the wall.
This may be the only wall insulation option for those with houses that pre-date the 1920s and lack cavity walls. External wall cladding tends to consist of three parts; firstly the insulating material is laid down, the components to fix the insulation to the wall and finally the cladding itself. The final layer is available in many different styles and can add a nice aesthetic to the house. However, older listed houses may be subject to planning laws, preventing them from affixing anything to the outer walls of the building. In this case internal cladding is an option, which is applied in the same way as external but to the inside of your walls, usually not subject to any planning issues.
Again this is usually only something you need to worry about if you have an old house, as modern builds will all have double glazed windows. The concept is the same as cavity walls, but involves two layers of glass in the frame, with an insulating air space between. This space is, in some cases, filled with a gas like argon, which has very good insulating properties. Double glazed windows can be fitted to any house, and are definitely worth investing in.
Finally, a few bits of head-smacking advice that are sometimes forgotten; make sure you close all the windows and doors when the heating is on and set the timer for your central heating system to come on only when you’re in the house!. Obviously some of these options are more costly than others but there is certainly something here for everyone to save themselves a bit of moneywhilst helping the environment!