What's insulation and can it save me money?

Insulation may not be the sexiest topic, but with rising energy bills it’s worth brushing up on your knowledge and finding out whether it could benefit your home. Climate Campaigner Connor Schwartz answers your questions.
  Published:  18 Aug 2022    |      3 minute read

What is insulation?

Insulation is a way of reducing the amount of heat your home loses in the winter. It can also keep your home cooler in the summer too. If you live in a well-insulated home, you’re less likely to be wasting money on unnecessarily high energy bills.

Can all homes be insulated?

Most homes can be fitted with some sort of insulation, but the type you choose depends on the type of building you live in and your budget.

Give me the specifics.

If you live in a flat, then your easiest options are draught proofing and making sure your windows and doors are at a minimum double glazed. Double- or triple-glazed windows make a house warmer and reduce outside noise. Upgrading single-glazed windows and doors should be doable for most types of homes, including flats, though it can be expensive.

If you’re in a top floor flat, then loft insulation will make a big difference. It’s cheap and simple to install, so it's worth telling your landlord this if you rent a place with a loft. If you install it yourself, it'll pay for itself in a year through lower energy bills (or 2-3 years if you pay someone else to install it).

If you live in a house, you may have a wider range of insulation options:

Cavity wall insulation. Houses built after 1920 are likely to have cavity walls (2 sets of walls with a gap in between) which can be insulated. We’d recommend getting a professional round to check your home’s suitability and figure out the best type of material to use.

External or internal wall insulation. Properties built before 1920 will likely have solid walls, so you can explore installing external wall or internal wall insulation. Both are expensive to do, costing between £8,000 and £10,000, but are incredibly effective at reducing emissions and slashing your energy bills.

Draught-proofing. Draughty windows, doors and floorboards make homes chilly in winter – wasting heat and increasing your impact on the planet. Draught-proofing means blocking small gaps around windows, doors and chimneys that let cold air in. It’s relatively straightforward to do yourself and is suitable for both flats and houses.

What's the cheapest way to insulate my home?

Loft or attic insulation is easy to install and causes minimal disruption to your home. As long as you take some basic safety precautions it’s something you can do yourself, but it might be an idea to watch some YouTube videos for guidance before you crack on. Loft insulation leads to good annual cost-savings and carbon emissions savings for all property types.

Draught proofing is also one of the cheaper options. You can either pay a professional to do it or, if you're comfortable with basic DIY, give it a go yourself. Just do your research first.

Some people can apply for money to help cover the cost of some of these measures. Unfortunately, there's currently not enough support available for everyone trapped in cold and leaky homes. That's why we're campaigning for free basic insulation and energy-saving measures for all homes that need it. In the meantime, check out whether you’re eligible for support.

I'm a renter. Can I get my landlord to insulate my home?

Unfortunately, rented homes are some of the worst when it comes to leaking warmth. Although you can’t force your landlord to insulate your home, it’s definitely worth asking.

Not only should landlords be looking out for the comfort and health of their tenants, installing good insulation in rental properties is in their best interest too, as it can help increase a home’s EPC (energy efficiency) which adds value to the property.

Won't insulating my home make it hotter in summer?

No, quite the opposite! Insulation can slow down heat entering your home through the walls, keeping things cooler during the warmer months.

What are the benefits of insulation?

Insulating homes across the UK could bring a range of benefits, including:

  • reducing energy bills
  • improving our health
  • generating jobs.

The UK has some of the coldest and costliest homes to heat in Europe. Our latest research shows there are almost 9,000 energy crisis hotspots across England and Wales where communities are at greatest risk of serious financial hardship as a result of unaffordable energy costs. And roughly 16 million homes need some form of improvement to bring them up to a reasonable energy efficiency standard (EPC C) by 2035.

Insulating our homes means we’ll need to use less energy to heat it, resulting in lower energy bills. What’s more, with the majority of our homes dependent on climate-wrecking fossil fuels for warmth, using less energy is good news for our planet too.

That sounds great. How can we make sure more homes are insulated?

By asking the government to fund a free nationwide insulation and energy efficiency programme, carried out by councils, prioritising those who need it most. Agree?

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