The Best Ways to Insulate Your Home This Winter
When we consider ways to be more eco-friendly around the house, there can be a tendency to think of technological solutions only. Expensive additions like solar panels can certainly be effective, but so too can the more ‘basic’ options, such as properly insulating your home. When you insulate your property, it is an effective way to maximize heat retention, which means you’ll need to heat your home less and you’ll reduce energy consumption.
Ultimately, this can be very good news for the planet and for your finances. A surprisingly 35% of heat lost in the home is through the walls, so even something as simple as adding wall insulation can be enough to make a big difference. Beyond that, there are many options to improve your home’s insulation.
In this article, we take a look at the best ways to insulate your home this winter by reviewing the key steps to take.
Step One: Look Out for Asbestos
The first thing to note is many homeowners who start looking into the possibility of insulating parts of their home find it is already insulated in places. In an effort to add higher quality insulation, they might be tempted to simply remove the insulation currently in place. However, doing so can potentially expose you to a dangerous substance.
“Asbestos had been used for many years as an insulating material,” says David Hanley, Managing Director of Crucial Environmental, a firm specializing in asbestos removal “but we have learned comparatively recently that exposure to asbestos has life-threatening risks connected to it.”
Asbestos is at its most dangerous when the material is damaged or disturbed, which can easily happen if you attempt to remove asbestos insulation. Hanley continues, “…since asbestos removal can be such a hazardous undertaking, it’s important that it’s carried out by a licensed professional so that they can remove it safely and dispose of it properly”. As such, it is essential you should act with care when considering stripping out existing asbestos insulation.
Step Two: Deal with Cavity Walls
Heat naturally flows from warmer areas to colder ones. That means when it gets cold this winter, the heat in your home will search for cooler areas of the home. Modern homes typically have cavity wall insulation. But for older properties, it is far from a certainty – and that’s why this is such a common place for the house to lose heat.
“Some homes were built without, or with very little, insulation in the wall cavity,” says Sarah Warwick, writing for Real Homes. “Cavity wall insulation can bring savings as well as making your home more comfortable. Blowing insulation into the wall cavity is the top option if you want to save on utility bills. Loose fill cellulose or fibreglass can be used for cavity wall insulation, and you will need a professional contractor to do the job.”
This is a key part of insulating your walls, but if you have solid walls these can be insulated too.
Step Three: Insulate Your Solid Walls
If your property has solid walls this can be an even more serious problem than cavity walls. It is thought solid walls typically let through around twice as much heat as cavity walls. However, solid walls can also be insulated. This can be done either from the inside or the outside.
If you are looking to add internal insulation, this can be accomplished by adding rigid insulation boards. An alternative would be to add a stud wall – but this would significantly eat into the space in the room.
Step Four: Manage Your Floors
Your floors are another key area where heat can be lost. Gaps between floorboards and skirting boards can be a pain – but they can actually be dealt with easily. Visit any DIY store and you can carry out this task simply with floor sealant. Some older properties will have suspended timber floors that can be just as easily insulated by lifting up the boards and adding wool insulation.
It is worth noting, it generally isn’t necessary to insulate floors above heated areas. In fact, doing so might stop the flow of warm air through the house. However, if you have rooms above unheated spaces, such as your garage, this should be insulated.
Step Five: Draught Proofing
Don’t forget about the possibilities of draught proofing (aka draft proofing). Often overlooked, this is a cheap and highly effective way to reduce heat loss in the home. The concept of ‘draught proofing’ is to “block any unwanted gaps that allow cold air to enter your property and warm air to leave it”. You might be surprised at just how effective it is to block up these gaps and ensure as little heat as possible is able to escape.
Homes with proper draft proofing are more comfortable at lower temperatures, as there is not the unpleasant draftiness that can make a room feel cooler than it is. This also means homeowners who decide to insulate this way can turn down their heating without feeling colder.
Step Six: The Roof and the Loft
If you know one thing about heat, it’s that it rises. Take a good look at your roof and loft to establish whether the space has high-quality insulation. If your roof is properly insulated, it not only stops cold air from escaping, but it can also keep your pipes from freezing in the winter.
Once again, this is a job for a professional installer, as they will be able to provide you with information on the most effective forms of insulation based on the specifics of your roof and loft.
In summary, insulating your home is a great way to do your bit for the environment, while also saving on your energy bills. Insulation will typically pay for itself fairly quickly in terms of the savings you make on your bills, so you can think of it as an investment rather than an outlay. There is no reason to delay insulating your home this winter and to start enjoying the multiple benefits it delivers.
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To prevent pipes in your home from freezing, we recommend looking around electrical wiring, pipes, and dryer vents and sealing the leaks using caulk or insulation. Remember, even the tiniest opening can allow cold air into your home that can freeze your pipes in extremely cold weather conditions.