Given the soaring cost of gas and electricity how can I better insulate my home? This blog will stimulate some ideas for you.
Heat loss is directly proportional to the difference in air temperature between the inside of your house and the outside (plus an impact from wind and draughts). So if the inside temperature is 24OC, and the outside temperature is 10OC, then heat is lost as it moves from hot to cold based on this 14 degree difference. If however, you only heat some rooms to 16OC then the difference is only 6 degrees and heat loss is reduced by 57%. Hence the importance of only heating rooms to the minimum temperature required.
You need to have an easily accessible and controllable wall mounted thermostat somewhere in the middle of your house or a hallway. Set it relatively low, perhaps at 18 degrees. A timer is essential, adjusted to your normal occupancy of the house. Using an app (I use the Hive system) you can switch this central thermostat up or down remotely if you are away from your house.
You should also have thermostats on each radiator allowing different but comfortable temperature in each room. For example, cold for the bedrooms or rooms that are little used, medium for the hallway and warm for the kitchen and living room. If you set your living room radiator to high then this room will be at a comfortable temperature and the central thermostat will prevent it from overheating. You can also save a lot of energy if you make the effort to manually change the room thermostats - for example, I have my kitchen thermostat set on high for the mornings whilst the living room is set at low, then reverse this in the evening.
Your house loses heat to the atmosphere based on the thermal conductivity of the various external surfaces (‘u’ value). A high ‘u’ value loses heat faster. For example, typical windows may have these values: single glazed (6), old double glazed (3), modern double glazed with argon (1.5), triple glazed (1). So, why do builders still fit double glazing? We should all demand triple glazing when we replace any window. Given that walls and roofs tend to have better (lower) ‘u’ values, windows, particularly older double-glazed units and glazed patio doors are often a weak link.
For most houses, insulating your attic is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to cut heat loss. Walls are often more expensive to retrofit with better insulation. Cavity wall insulation does pay for itself but adding more cladding on the outside, or the inside, is expensive and is unlikely to pay for itself in purely economic terms. Of course, it will make your house warmer, more comfortable and reduce greenhouse emissions from burning oil or gas.
And finally, to floors, another weak link in most houses. Often there is little or no insulation within or under floors; instead, we rely on carpets to keep our feet warm. A cold floor has a disproportionate impact as we feel the cold through our feet touching the cold surface. It should be a priority to insulate under your floorboards although for many houses this is difficult to access – if only our houses had been built better in the first place!
So, in conclusion, don’t waste heat by heating an empty house or empty rooms and only heat to the level you need. This is the first thing you should do, the second is to invest in improving the insulation, the third is to invest in a heat pump – but that is for another day.
If you live in the UK, your first port of call should be the Energy Savings Trust for guidance and financial support. There are different schemes in each part of the UK, but in Scotland there are energy efficiency loans available up to £15,000, with the potential for up to 40% (£6,000) cashback.
If you have enjoyed this blog, please share with others on social media. You might also enjoy Carbon Choices on the common-sense solutions to our climate and nature crises. Available direct from me or from Amazon. I am donating one third of profits to rewilding projects. I am also available to give presentations on 'rewilding' or on the 'common-sense solutions to our climate crisis'.