As energy prices eat into consumers' incomes, finding how to cut these bills has become crucial. We look at useful ways of saving energy with loft insulation.
In April 2022, household energy bills in the UK rose by 54%.
While it's not uncommon for energy prices to go up, this is the largest increase on record with a system that goes back over 50 years. Even more price increases are planned for October 2022, so what can you do to help deal with these rising costs?
The best way to save money on bills is to be more efficient. Wasted energy is wasted money, so you want to make the most of everything you use. The UK gets long, cold winters, and people rely on heating to keep their homes comfortable.
One of the best ways you can start saving energy is with loft insulation. For a rundown of how loft insulation works and the benefits that come with it, keep reading.
What Is Loft Insulation?
Loft insulation comes in various forms, but the different types all serve the same overall purpose - to stop heat from escaping your home. It's placed in your loft and will hold in heat. This is most useful in the winter when the outside temperature can get very low.
Heat will gradually escape from a home, and this happens quickest in areas that are poorly insulated. Open doors and windows will immediately let heat out and may let a lot out when closed if they're not well designed. As heat rises, it will generally escape through your roof faster than your walls, which is why loft insulation is so important.
Energy-efficient loft insulation will keep your home warmer, meaning you'll use less energy to heat it. It will also keep things much more comfortable and enjoyable during the coldest months of the year.
Types of Loft Insulation
There are various types of insulation you can use in your loft. Each type has its own benefits, so understanding the options available will help you decide which is best for your loft.
Quilt or Blanket
This is the most common type of loft insulation you'll see. You can buy it in rolls and it's typically made from glass, mineral, or rock fibre. This type is widely used because it's easy to install, so people can often do it themselves.
Some of the materials used to make this insulation can irritate the skin, so if you decide to install it yourself you must wear protective gear including eye and breathing protection. If this is a problem sheep's wool is an option as it is non-irritant, but it's generally more expensive.
Blanket insulation is ideal for insulating spaces that you can easily get to. It is relatively inexpensive and very easy to fit but can be quite bulky, so is generally less suitable for tight spaces or for insulating around obstructions.
This type of insulation comes in a granular format and is available in various materials such as cork, cellulose fibre, or mineral wool. Recycled newspaper is also becoming more common as it's one of the most environmentally friendly insulation options available.
Because it sits loosely, it's ideal for insulating around obstructions or between uneven joists. This does, however, mean that it can move around and become displaced, especially in draughty lofts.
Even if you already have another type of insulation installed, loose-fill can be useful for topping up spots where the insulation is too thin or missing. Like blanket insulation, protective gear needs to be worn when installing this.
Sheet insulation has a more specific design as it's made to insulate the underside of roofs where they slope down. It comes in the form of rigid sheets, and these generally require cutting to the correct sizes.
These sheets are available in various materials, for example PIR (Polyisocyanurate), PUR (Polyurethane), XPS (extruded polystyrene), and more recently vacuum insulated panels. For added safety, they can have a special covering applied that's resistant to fire and moisture.
Be sure to leave an airgap when installing the insulation between the insulation sheet and the roofing felt to allow airflow and reduce the risk of condensation.
If you have a loft conversion, this is one of the most suitable types of insulation. It's easy to cover these with plasterboard, giving a better final appearance. It's worth bearing in mind that sheet insulation is one of the more expensive options.
This insulation is blown between the joist in your roof using special equipment. Only a professional contractor can install this type of insulation. Fortunately, they can generally do this quite quickly, especially as the insulation itself is lightweight and easy to cut/handle.
Like the types mentioned above, various materials are available including some greener options like wool and recycled paper. It's good for insulating tight gaps and hard-to-access areas. Like loose-fill insulation, this might not be ideal for draughty lofts, and it can be fairly expensive.
This insulation is sprayed directly onto the underside of the roof using specialist equipment which then expands to create an effective thermal barrier. Again, this is suitable only for a professional contractor to carry out and as such can be more expensive than some other solutions.
It is good as insulating hard to reach areas and as it is applied to the underside of the roof (not the floor) it doesn't reduce the head height of the loft as quilt, blow-in and loose fill do. There may be issues however when coming to sell your home if you have installed spray foam insulation, for more information see here.
DIY Loft Insulation
Many home improvement jobs require the help of professional contractors, but that's not necessarily the case for loft insulation. While a contractor may have an easier time doing it, you may be able to install some types of loft insulation yourself.
The easiest type to install on your own is quilt insulation. When in your loft, you can simply roll it out between the joists on the floor, then across the joists to create the required 270mm of depth recommended by the government. Cover all spaces and gaps to ensure good efficiency. There can be some challenges with this, so before you get started you want to make sure of a few things.
You need to be able to easily access your loft - if it's unsafe to do so, you might be better off getting in a professional. It's much easier to do this if the joists in your loft are evenly spaced. You should still be able to do it if the gaps are irregular, but it will take more work.
If there are any damp or moisture issues in your roof, you'll want to have this addressed before putting down your insulation. If you don't you could face some much larger issues further down the line.
Note that this type of insulation is best for pitched roofs as flat roofs are generally insulated from the outside. You'll also need to be sure that you have all the right protective equipment before you get started.
If you're not entirely confident you should use a professional installer. It will be much quicker, and you know they'll get things done right.
Other Insulation Types
If you're going with sheet installation, it will take more work. This is because you need to attach it to the roof rather than just laying it out on the floor. You can sometimes order these with their own attachment systems.
This is a DIY option however it will require a lot of cutting and quite a bit of mess.
If you're not bothered about the finished look, you can leave the insulation exposed. You also have the option to cover it with plasterboard, which is ideal if you want a more luxurious storage area.
Loose-fill insulation is easy enough to install yourself. You'll just need to make sure you can access your loft and that you have the right protective clothing.
For blown-fibre insulation, you'll need to hire a professional installer. Not only does it take a higher level of expertise, but they already have the specialized equipment that's needed for the job.
Loft Insulation Benefits
The main reason for loft insulation is to conserve heat which will keep your home warm and save on energy bills. On top of that, there are a few other benefits that come with insulating your loft.
In today's world, more people are becoming conscious of their impact on the environment. If you want to reduce your carbon footprint, insulation is a great place to start.
As you'll use less energy to heat your home, you'll be creating fewer emissions, and the more efficient your insulation is, the more of a difference it will make. You can also be more eco-conscious here by getting insulation that's made from a green material such as wool or recycled paper.
The main purpose of any loft insulation is to stop heat from getting through, but it also works well at blocking noise. When you add insulation to your home, you're likely to notice a significant drop in the outside noise that you can hear. You'll benefit more from this if you live in a noisy area.
Increased Re-Sale Value
People are naturally more interested in buying an energy efficient home with a good Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating. This is because they know they'll be buying a home that already has the other benefits of reduced bills and increased comfort.
A correctly insulated loft will contribute positively to the EPC rating and your monthly bills, making insulating your loft a great financial decision for now and in the future.
It's difficult to say which type of loft insulation is the most energy-efficient. Construction, age and use will affect what type is most suitable for a particular home. When deciding which insulation to install, there are several things you should take into consideration to determine the right type for you.
Hot or Cold Loft?
You can choose between either of these. A cold loft is one with insulation on the loft floor, such as blanket insulation. It will stop heat from getting into the loft, keeping the heat in the rooms below and leaving it cold.
A hot loft is one with insulation installed on the underside of the roof, meaning the loft itself will stay warm. This is typical of sheet insulation.
Can You Store Things in an Insulated Loft?
Yes, however it is important if you are using quilt, loose-fill or blown-fibre insulation that the stored items do not compress the insulation. All these insulation types require a depth that is much deeper than the joists or trusses. Compressing the insulation to the height of the joists or trusses will reduce its thermal performance by over 50%, reducing the energy and money saving benefits significantly.
You'll need to raise the floor so that you can put more insulation in, then you can put boards over the top. At Loft Leg, we sell special plastic legs made from recycled materials that you can use for this. They're available in both 175mm and 300mm, and we have fitting guides and FAQs on the product pages to show you everything you need.
If you go with sheet installation, it will be installed on the ceiling rather than the floor. This means that storage won't be an issue.
It's important to maintain good ventilation in your loft to prevent dampness and mould from building up. A professional installer will already be aware of this, but if you're doing it yourself it's something you need to be careful with. Take care not to cover any vents, airbricks, or grilles.
Saving Energy with Loft Insulation
With the way energy prices are going, monthly bills are becoming more of an issue. Saving energy with loft insulation will help keep your bills to a minimum, and it provides other benefits such as noise reduction and increasing the value of your home.
At Loft Leg we provide a range of products that can help with various aspects of your loft. If you have any questions about our products, click here to contact us today.