One of the most important things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint is to take home insulation seriously. If you are planning a home renovation project or considering an extension, then including a good deal of insulation in your designs is a good idea. In fact, if you require planning permission to be granted – depending on the size and exact nature of the project – the home insulation measures you have planned will be considered as a part of the application process. Even if you are not going ahead with any form of building work on your property at the moment, then you can still add further insulation to your home. What are the most common insulation products you can have fitted and why should you install them?
Regardless of when you fit home insulation products – either during a new construction project or not – the point about doing so is twofold. The first is a straightforward environmental one. If you lose less heat from your home to the outside, then you will need to burn less fuel to keep your home warm in winter. The result is that your home will contribute less to global warming from the fossil fuels required to heat it. Since most homes in Europe are still heated by boilers firing natural gas to warm up a central heating system, minimising losses means lowering the amount of carbon dioxide that is ultimately released into the atmosphere.
Furthermore, homes which are better insulated also stop the sun from making them overheat in the summer months. Although not many houses in Ireland have carbon-intensive air-conditioning units which are needed in summer, better insulation means you can keep your home cooler without the need for any devices, making them more pleasant to live in during a hot spell.
The second main reason for retro-fitting insulation systems in your home is to lower your expenditure. If you look at the wholesale cost of energy – whether that comes from natural gas or electrical generation – then the long-term trend has been upwards over the last couple of decades at least. In other words, we are all spending more and more money on heating our homes. Therefore, any insulation product which successfully reduces your need to burn fuel means lowering your bills. Once fitted, an insulation product will last a lifetime and many come with warranties of 25 years, or more. Therefore, fitting them doesn't simply start to save money on your next utility bill, but future proofs you against hikes in gas and electricity prices down the line.
There are a number of tried-and-tested insulation systems which you can have retro-fitted. Read on to discover more about the most frequently used ones.
Sometimes manufactured from spun glass, as well as other man made materials, mineral wool creates a layer of heat-trapping insulation. Commonly, this is supplied in rolls which you can push out in places like lofts where it will prevent heat from escaping upwards. This material also helps to dampen homes from an acoustic point of view.
By trapping air inside it, polystyrene is widely used for insulation as well as packaging. The material can be sprayed into place and is also sometimes supplied in pre-formed sections. Expanded polystyrene works in much the same way as mineral wool but the inclusion of graphite in it has been found to work even better.
Foam boards can be fitted inside cavity walls when they are being built, but you can also use them to line your home's roof. Many are simply cut to size with a handsaw and can be placed between the purlins of a pitched roof. Some foam boards are also lined with a reflective metallic layer which helps their insulating properties, too.
Recycled materials of many kinds can be used to insulate buildings. Old paper and wood can be formed into a pulp-like material which is then pumped into cavity walls. In addition, hemp and cotton fibre have been shown to be great materials when they are used to backfill the cavities in a wall.
Even if you are not in a position to fit insulation products in your home in the next few months, then there are measures you can take that will help. Fitting and drawing curtains over your windows is a great way of improving the heat retention properties of your home, for example. If you have a fireplace which is not in use, then you could block it off by stuffing it with loosely screwed up newspaper to prevent heat from rushing up the chimney. Bear in mind that this is not suitable if you use the fireplace though because noxious gases need to escape. Installing weather strips around the seals on doors and windows will also help to reduce draughts and, therefore, energy usage.
To find out more about how the design of buildings can help to make homes more environmentally friendly, contact BIY. Our experts can help make your home cheaper to live in as well as doing your bit in the fight against climate change.