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Insulation buying guide

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If you’re looking to save money on your heating bills, then checking that your home is properly insulated is a great place to start.

Having the right amount of loft insulation will make a huge difference to your home by reducing the amount of heat lost through the roof. In turn this will help you to cut your heating bills by up to 15%, whilst reducing your carbon footprint and helping you and your family to stay warm in the colder weather.

Loft insulation can also help to upgrade your home’s EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) rating, making your property more attractive to potential buyers.

When it comes to choosing the right loft insulation, there are a lot of different options out there, and in this expert buying guide, we’ll show you exactly what you need to look for to find the right insulation for your home.

How to choose insulation

Here is a guide to the different types of home insulation available

What are the basic types of insulation?

Space Blanket

Space Blanket is a premium 'encapsulated' glass mineral wool product. Designed to provide excellent thermal insulation for pitched roofs at ceiling level, it’s usually put down in two layers - the first layer between the joists and the second at right angles on top of them.

Space Blanket is manufactured from a lightweight mineral wool, and it’s really easy to cut to size and install. It comes covered in a part-metallised polythene film that reflects heat, and prevents irritation of the skin when you’re laying it. Space Blanket should always be laid silver side up for the best results.

Space Combi-roll

Space Combi-Roll is a flexible glass mineral wool quilt that's light, flexible, resilient and non-combustible.

The rolls are 1140mm wide and partially perforated to produce either two rolls 570mm wide or three rolls 380mm wide. This makes it ideal for use between 400mm or 600mm ceiling joists.

Space Combi-Roll is mainly used for the thermal insulation of pitched roofs at ceiling level, but you can also use it to insulate floors and partitions, or wherever a lightweight mineral wool quilt is needed.

When you're insulating at ceiling level, you usually lay in two layers - the first layer between the joists and the second at right angles over the top of it. Space Combi-Roll is really quick and simple to install, as it's lightweight and easy to cut to size.

Both Space products are virtually itch-free, and made from a non-combustible inorganic glass wool (called mineral wool). Although synthetic, they contain CFCs, HCFCs or other material associated with ozone damage.

They're also odourless, rot-proof, non-hygroscopic (they don't absorb moisture), and don't support vermin or encourage fungi, mould or bacteria.

Thermawrap Easy Fit General Purpose Insulation

Thermawrap Easy Fit General Purpose Insulation is light, flexible and CFC and HCFC-free. It’s also very easy to install.

Durable and 4mm thick, Thermawrap features high reflective foil facings on each side, which reflect heat, helping to keep houses warmer in winter and cooler in summer. It also helps resist damp problems and reduces condensation.

Ecohome

If you’re looking for an environmentally friendly product, but don’t want to compromise on performance, then the Ecohome Non-Itch Recycled Fibre Insulation is ideal.

Designed to last for 50 years or more, Ecohome is made from user-friendly non-irritant material that's free from floating fibres or dust. This prevents skin irritation and respiratory problems associated with the installation of other insulation.

Ecohome won't deteriorate over time and isn't affected by water, mould, mildew or rot. It's also resistant to vermin and insect attack. Ecohome insulation is totally safe, clean and easy to fit, and you don't need any protective clothing to install it.

Manufactured from recycled plastic bottles, it’s extremely environmentally friendly, and 100% recyclable. Ecohome's acoustic properties also protect your home (or commercial premises) against noise pollution.

What are the benefits of loft insulation?

  • Lower energy bills and great savings each year.
  • It could upgrade your home's Energy Performance Certificate (buyers will find a more energy-efficient home a more appealing prospect).
  • You're doing your bit against global warming and climate change, as your heating system will emit less CO2.
  • Insulation offers sound absorption.
  • Your home will be warmer in cold weather.
  • Quick and easy installation.

How easy is it to fit loft insulation?

Fitting loft insulation is a relatively easy DIY job that you can do in a single day – the most time consuming part of the job is usually clearing out the loft.

Once the loft is clear, lift all the insulation rolls into the loft. Starting at one end of the space, unroll the first length so that it fits between the ceiling joists over the floor of the loft.

Take care not to insulate below the cold water tank (if you’ve got one) or block the eaves, leaving a gap of 25mm to allow for ventilation and prevent condensation.

Don't squash the insulation down or compress it into tight corners or eaves. This reduces the insulation's depth and effectiveness. Avoid contact between insulation and hot flues, chimneys and light fittings.

Once you’ve finished insulating the loft, it’s also a good idea to insulate your water tank and pipes, as insulated roof spaces are colder as they get less heat from below.

How much loft insulation do I need?

UK Building regulations recommend a minimum depth of 270mm of loft insulation, but you can use as much as you can fit in. Put simply, the thicker the layer of insulation, the more money you’ll save on your heating bills.

Before you go out and purchase your rolls of insulation, measure the area of your loft, the depth between your joists, and the height of the roof. This will help you to work out how many rolls you need.

What sort of clothing should I wear when installing loft insulation?

Synthetic insulation can cause skin irritation, so it’s really important to wear the right protective gloves, goggles and a dust mask during installation.

How much does loft insulation cost?

The cost of your insulation project will depend on a few factors:

• The existing insulation
• The size of your loft
• The type of insulation you go for
• The depth of insulation you choose to install

As a rule of thumb, you should be able to insulate an average 3 bedroom semi to the minimum 270mm dpth for £200 - £300 (Dec 2014 figures) if you install it yourself. Your insulation will pay for itself by reducing your heating bills in around 2 years.

How can insulating my home help the environment?

A well-insulated house uses less energy to keep it warm, so less CO2 is released. (CO2 is produced when fossil fuels are burnt to create energy.) Large amounts of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have prompted global warming. This causes the earth's air and sea temperatures to increase and sea levels to rise. This in turn causes weather conditions to become increasingly severe - this is climate change. You can play your part in the campaign against it by insulating your home!

Top tips:

  • Don't forget the loft hatch! If you don't insulate your hatch, warm air can be drawn up through it. Cut insulation to fit the hatch but make sure the edges are well draught-proofed.
  • Keep insulation away from ceiling lights (such as halogen down lighters) to prevent overheating. Leave 150mm clearance around recessed ceiling lamps.
  • Lift electrical cables above loft insulation to avoid overheating. Don't cover high-load cables like those leading to cookers, electric showers and storage heaters.
  • An insulated loft is a colder loft so it's important to insulate water tanks and pipes to prevent bursts in freezing weather.

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