There are many types of home insulation available that can make a huge difference in reducing your energy bills. Traditionally, the most common forms of insulation have been made from materials like fibreglass, cellulose, and foam but in recent years many new types claiming to be more environmentally friendly have been gaining popularity.
But what type of insulation is best? And how much will it cost to replace the insulation in your home?
In this blog post, we will discuss the different types of insulation and their benefits. We will also look at UK government grants that can help you with the cost of insulation.
Rigid Foam Insulation
Rigid foam insulation is one of the most popular types of insulation. It is made from polystyrene or polyurethane and can be used to insulate both homes and commercial buildings. Rigid foam insulation is very effective at preventing heat loss and is often used in walls, ceilings, and floors.
There are three main types of rigid foam insulation: PIR/PUR boards, phenolic boards, and expanded polystyrene boards.
- PIR/PUR boards are made from polyurethane or polyisocyanurate and are the most common type of rigid foam insulation.
- Phenolic boards are made from a mixture of phenol and formaldehyde and are often used in floors and roofs.
- Expanded polystyrene boards, also known as EPS boards, are made from styrofoam and are often used in walls and ceilings.
One of the main benefits of rigid foam insulation is that it is very easy to install. It can be cut to size and fitted into almost any space. Rigid foam insulation is also very durable and has a long lifespan. The main downside of rigid foam insulation is that it is made from petroleum products, which are not environmentally friendly. Rigid foam insulation is also one of the more expensive types of insulation.
Wool Type Loft Insulation
Wool type insulation is usually made from mineral fibres or fibreglass. These materials are spun into wool and then used to insulate homes. Wool type loft insulation is often used in ceilings and attics but some people have also used it for walls and floors where it is often less effective and can lead to issues such as damp penetration.
The main benefit of wool type loft insulation is that it is very effective at preventing heat loss when used correctly. It is also very easy to install and has a long lifespan. As well as allowing damp penetration, another downside of wool type loft insulation is that it can be irritable to the skin. If you are installing it yourself, make sure to wear gloves and a mask.
Aluminium Foil Backed Insulation
Aluminium foil backed insulation is made from recycled aluminium so it is also a relatively environmentally-friendly option. Like rigid foam and wool type insulation, it can be used for walls, ceilings, and floors but it is most often used as warm roof insulation.
Aluminium foil is a very good conductor of heat so it is very effective at preventing heat loss. It is also very easy to install and can be cut to size.
One downside of aluminium foil backed insulation is that it does not have a long lifespan and will need to be replaced more often than other types of insulation. It is also one of the more expensive types of insulation.
Multilayer Foil Insulation
Multilayer foil insulation is a less common option made from multiple layers of aluminium foil and wadding that is often used for roofs, walls, and floors. It is a very effective type of insulation because it is lightweight, reflects heat well, has built-in vapour control and can be taped into place.
The main downside of multilayer foil insulation is that it is not as durable as some other types of insulation and can be damaged easily. It is also one of the more expensive types of insulation.
Foam Spray Insulation Kits
If you want to save money on your insulation, you can buy a DIY spray foam insulation kit. These kits contain everything you need to insulate an area yourself including the foam, a sprayer, and instructions.
Foam spray insulation is very effective at preventing heat loss and is also good at reducing noise. It is quick and easy to install because all you need to do is spray it onto the desired area where it will expand and harden.
The main benefit of buying a DIY kit is that it is much cheaper than hiring a professional to do it for you. However, it is important to note that these kits can be difficult to use and the results are not always as good as if you were to hire a professional.
Wood Fibre Insulation
Wood fibre insulation is made from recycled wood that is shredded and then treated with fire-retardant chemicals. It is often used for walls, floors, and ceilings and can be either roll-out or loose-fill.
Wood fibre insulation is a good insulator because it is dense and does not allow heat to pass through easily. It is also environmentally friendly and has a long lifespan. The main downside of wood fibre insulation is that it can be irritable to the skin and lungs so it is important to wear gloves and a mask when installing it. It is also one of the more expensive types of insulation.
Sheep’s Wool Insulation
Sheep’s wool insulation is made from, you guessed it, sheep’s wool! It is an often-overlooked material but it is actually a very effective type of insulation. It is often used for walls, floors, and ceilings and can be either roll-out or loose-fill.
Sheep’s wool insulation is a good insulator because like wood fibre it is very dense when packed in and does not allow much heat to pass through. It is a very environmentally-friendly material as it is biodegradable and has a long lifespan. The main downside of sheep’s wool insulation is that, like wood fibre, it can be irritable to the skin and lungs so make sure to wear gloves and a mask when installing it.
Blue Jean Insulation
Blue jean insulation is one of the newer eco-friendly insulation options on the market. It is made from recycled blue jeans that are shredded and treated with fire-retardant chemicals.
Proponents of blue jean insulation say that it is just as effective as other types of insulation but it is much cheaper and better for the environment. The main downside of blue jean insulation is that it has not been around for very long so we do not know how well it will stand the test of time.
Why Is Insulation So Important?
Insulation is so important because it helps to keep your home at a comfortable temperature by trapping heat in during the winter and keeping it out during the summer. It also helps to reduce noise levels and can save you money on your energy bills.
Insulation has become a hot topic in the UK in recent years because of the high cost of energy. In 2022, UK energy costs have reached record highs as a result of various factors including global price rises, Brexit complications, the Covid-19 Pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
With prices not looking likely to drop any time soon, more and more people are looking to insulation as an effective way to save money on their energy bills.
Which Areas of the Home Need Insulation Most?
The areas of the house that need insulation most are typically the ones that are exposed to the elements the most. This includes the walls, floors, ceilings, windows, and doors. As a % breakdown, heat is lost in a house through:
- Walls: 35%
- Floors: 25%
- Ceilings: 15%
- Windows and doors: 15%
- Other (e.g. gaps in the structure): 10%
Of course, these numbers vary from house to house and depend on a number of factors such as the age and type of the house, the climate, the state of your windows and doors, the condition of the roof and so on.
How much does Insulating Your House Cost?
The cost of insulating your house depends on a number of factors, including the size of your house, the type of insulation you choose, whether you install it yourself or hire a professional and so on.
As a general rule of thumb, the cost of insulating a three-bedroom semi-detached house will be in the region of £8,500 to £15,000. This is a sizeable investment but it can save you a lot of money in the long run on your energy bills.
UK Home Insulation Grants
The government recognises that insulation is expensive but wants to incentivise people to insulate their homes by offering insulation grants. These are available through the ECO scheme which is a government initiative that requires energy companies to help low-income households with the cost of insulation and other energy-saving measures.
To be eligible for a grant, you must meet certain criteria such as having a low income or receiving one or more of the following benefits:
- Child Tax Credits (CTC)
- Universal Credit (UC)
- Working Tax Credit (WTC)
- Income-related Employment & Support Allowance (ESA)
- Income-based Jobseekers Allowance (JSA)
- Income Support (IS)
- Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
- Pension Credit Savings Credit
- Housing Benefit
What does the ECO Scheme Cover?
In terms of insulation, the ECO scheme can help you with the cost of the following types of insulation:
Cavity Wall Insulation
This is where insulation is installed in the gaps between external walls. Cavity wall insulation can be expensive but you could claim up to 100% of the cost through the government grant.
This is where insulation is installed in the attic or loft of your house. This is very important as heat rises and a lot of heat is lost through the roof. A loft insulation grant could potentially cover 100% of the cost.
External Wall Insulation
This is where insulation is installed on the outside of your house, over the brickwork or render. External wall insulation can be very expensive but you may be eligible for 25% of the cost through a government grant. It is worth noting that you may need planning permission for external insulation so check with your local authority.
Internal Wall Insulation
This is where insulation is installed on the inside of your house, between the studs in walls. Through government grants, you may be entitled to free internal wall insulation.
Room in Roof Insulation
This is where insulation is installed in the roof space of your house. Room in roof insulation can be expensive but can save you a lot of money on your energy bills because so much heat is lost through the roof.
There is no easy answer when it comes to what type of insulation is best with different insulation materials more effective in different buildings. The most important thing is that you make sure your house is well insulated to save money on your energy bills and keep your home warm. You can find more tips top tips on keeping your home warm in the winter here.
If you are thinking of insulating your house, we would recommend getting quotes from different companies to see how much it will cost. You should also check whether you are eligible for a grant as this can help to offset the cost.
To find out whether your home is eligible for the ECO Scheme, enter your postcode here.