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Blog Post 17 November 2020

Stay warm in winter: five areas to add insulation in your home

Winter has arrived. The days are shorter, the nights are colder – and with that comes the worry about how to keep your home warm without breaking the bank.

With more of the UK population working from home due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s likely we’re using more energy during the day – making cups of tea, turning on the lights and dialling up the thermostat – which will have an impact on our energy bills.

What you might not know is how much heat you could be losing from your home if it’s not properly insulated. We look at five areas to add insulation in your home, which could help keep the heat in, lower your carbon emissions, and save you money on your energy bills.

01

Walls

About a third of all the heat lost in an insulated home escapes through the walls. By adding insulation here, you could save energy and cut costs off your heating bill.

Houses in the UK mostly have either solid walls or cavity walls.

If your house was built after the 1920s, it is likely to have cavity walls. A cavity wall is made up of two walls with a gap in between, known as the cavity, which can be filled with insulation.

Older houses built before 1920 are more likely to have solid walls. A solid wall has no cavity; each wall is a single solid wall, usually made of brick or stone.

While a solid wall can’t be filled with insulation, it can be insulated either from the inside or outside. This will cost more than insulating a cavity wall, but the savings on your heating bills will be bigger.

Find out more about wall insulation in our advice pages on how to insulate a solid wall or cavity wall.

02

Roof and loft

If you have a poorly insulated roof or loft space, you could be losing heat through the top of your house. Insulating your loft, attic or roof is a simple and effective way to reduce heat loss and lower your heating bills.

If your loft is easy to access, does not have damp problems and is not a flat roof, you could probably insulate it yourself. In cases where there are damp problems or more complex insulation is needed, you should use a professional installer.

Flat roof insulation always requires professional insulation and damp roofs require professional assessment before work can be carried out.

The National Insulation Association is a member organisation for the insulation industry in the UK. You can use their website to find an accredited installer near you.

Our guide to roof and loft insulation contains more information, including typical installation costs, energy bills savings and how much carbon dioxide you could save each year by insulating your roof or loft.

03

Floor

Insulating your ground floor is a great way to keep your home warm. If you live in an upper floor flat, you don’t usually need to insulate your floor space.

Many homes – especially newer ones – will have a ground floor made of solid concrete. This can be insulated when it needs to be replaced or can have rigid insulation laid on top.

Older homes are most likely to have suspended timber floors. Timber floors can be insulated by lifting the floorboards and laying mineral wool insulation supported by netting between the joists. Insulating under the floorboards on the ground floor will save you about £40 a year.

If you’re looking for a quick fix, rugs and carpets on the floor will help your feet feel warmer, which might mean you don’t feel the need to put the heating on as much.

Find out more about floor insulation in our handy advice guide.

04

Tanks, pipes and radiators

Insulating your water tank, pipes and radiators is a quick and easy way to save money on your bills.

Adding insulation to water tanks and pipes and insulating behind radiators reduces the amount of heat lost, so you spend less money heating water up, and hot water stays hotter for longer.

If you want to insulate your hot water tank, you can buy a hot water cylinder jacket for around £15 from a DIY store. Fitting it is a straightforward job if you follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Pipes can be insulated using foam tubes that cover the exposed pipes between your hot water tank and boiler. Choose the correct size from a DIY store and then slip it around the pipes.

You might not know this but adding reflector panels behind your radiator is a low-cost option that could reduce your energy consumption. Fixed behind radiators, these panels reflect heat from the radiator back into the room, instead of letting the heat escape through an external wall.

Find out how much you could save by insulating the tanks, pipes and radiators in your home.

05

Draught-proofing

While it isn’t technically a type of insulation, draught-proofing is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to save energy – and money – in any building.

To draught-proof your home, you should block up unwanted gaps that let cold air in and warm air out. Saving warm air means you’ll use less energy to heat your home, so you’ll save money as well as making your home snug and warm.

Draught-proofing around windows and doors could save you around £20 a year*. If you have an open chimney, draught-proofing your chimney when you’re not using it could save around £15 a year*.

Draught-free homes are comfortable at lower temperatures – so you may be able to turn down your thermostat, saving even more on your energy bills.

* Savings based on a typical gas-fuelled semi-detached property in England, Scotland or Wales.

Explore our advice page to find out more about how best to deal with draughts in your home.

Support for making home energy efficiency improvements

Insulating your home can be a big investment, requiring an upfront cost before you start to see savings on your energy bills. However, there is financial support available across the UK, with the focus on keeping warm for less.

In England, the new Green Homes Grant scheme offers vouchers to homeowners or landlords to help with the cost of installing energy efficiency measures – including insulation – in your home. Find out more about the scheme and eligibility.

If you live in Scotland, check with Home Energy Scotland to see what financial support might be available. In Wales, if you’re struggling to keep your home warm or pay your energy bills, the Nest scheme offers a package of home improvements to eligible applicants.

And for those living in Northern Ireland, we recommend contacting NI Energy Service to find out more about energy efficiency grants, including the Affordable Warmth Scheme.