Upgrade your loft insulation

Last updated Wednesday 30 April 2008

Don't let your heating bills go through the roof

If your loft isn't insulated, then you're spending good money just to keep birds' feet warm. Even if it is, have you thought about the savings you could make by improving it?

Without loft insulation, as much as 110 worth of heat (15% of your heating costs) goes through the roof every year. With 27cm of insulation you can keep that heat in your house, and save over 935kg of CO2.

Already got insulation? Well, you're getting warmer - but more than six million homes in this country have 7.5cm of insulation or less in their lofts. Topping it up could still save more than 260kg of CO2 and leave you with another 30 or so a year in your pocket.

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Photo: Upgrade your loft insulation

CO2 savings: 935kg (0-27cm) - 260kg (5-27cm)

401 Bloomers are doing this

CO2 reduction 3 out of 5

Cheapness 2 out of 5

Popularity 4 out of 5

Cost 180 - 500

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It's Not Easy Being Green: installing loft insulation

Watch the Strawbridges insulate a loft with sheepswool

In this article:

How will it make a difference?

Pub Fact

  • About 7% of heat in the average home escapes through the roof
  • If everyone in the UK topped up their loft insulation to 270mm, an amazing 400m would be saved each year. That's enough money to pay the annual fuel bills of nearly 450,000 families
  • Half of the heat lost in your home escapes through either the walls or the roof

For a start, it'll save you money, although admittedly it will take a few years to repay your investment (see 'What's stopping me?') In the meantime, it will reduce your CO2 emissions by as much as 935kg a year, depending on how much insulation you have to start with.

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What's stopping me?

Not much - this has to be one of the easier actions to follow through. Admittedly you either need a bit of DIY confidence or you'll have to pay a professional. But as with many actions, it starts paying back on the investment immediately. Lagging your loft to 27cm depth from scratch will set you back about 250 if you do it yourself and about 500 to get someone in. Topping up from, say, 5cm will be more like 180 DIY (but still 500 to have it installed professionally). So if you've no insulation currently and you put it in yourself, you'll make your money back in a couple of years.

On top of that, you could be entitled to financial assistance - call the Energy Saving Trust helpline on 0800 512 012 or visit www.energysavingtrust.org.uk to find out what's available in your area.

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How do I do it?

  • Check whether you're getting a bit thin on top: if your existing insulation is much less than the recommended 27cm, you should definitely consider topping it up
  • Decide whether you want to install it yourself or get a professional to do it
  • If you're opting for DIY, see the Energy Saving Trust website for a step by step guide
  • You can still insulate if you have a flat roof. See the Energy Saving Trust website for more details

All the insulation materials listed have their own strengths and weaknesses, and their suitability for you will depend to an extent on the nature of your loft space - but all of them are a better bet than not insulating it at all.

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Anonymous 2009-01-02

Went from 0 to 250m of loft insulation - sitting around in my boxer shorts now

Breadon, Pershore 2008-08-30

There was an issue that our loft is partially boarded and we didn't want to loose the storage space. Apparently, with modern roofs the depth of the joists doesn't all for the full depth of insullation now recommended. However, we are upgrading the insulation in remainder of the loft. About a quarter of the loft is boarded. There are a lot of boxes on top of the boards so we are hoping that this help with retaining heat in the middle bit. Have accepted quote. Awaiting installation. The alternative of spraying foam on the underside of the roof was just too expensive. (Our roof is in good condition and does not require repair work.)

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Glossary terms used on this page
CO2, or carbon dioxide, is made up of the elements carbon and oxygen. It exists quite naturally in our atmosphere, as part of the carbon cycle. Everyday processes in the plant and animal world both add CO2 to the atmosphere and take it out. However, because it is a greenhouse gas - meaning it affects the temperature of the earth - the exact level of CO2 is important. Burning fossil fuels releases CO2 into the atmosphere, hence the anxiety that extensive use of these fuels is causing climate change.
Emissions are the CO2 (and other greenhouse gases) produced by energy use, usually calculated and stated as an annual tally: also referred to as your carbon footprint. Your personal emissions can be direct - such as the gas you personally use to heat your home or the petrol you burn to power your car - or indirect - meaning the energy use that has gone into the products or services you buy. The latter, such as the emissions caused by the manufacture of your new TV, or the packaging your food comes in, are also referred to as embodied emissions.
Lagging is another term for insulating, or for the insulating material itself. To lag means to add material to spaces or containers liable to heat loss - typically hot water pipes and tanks, and loft spaces.

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