Insulating homes can reduce costs

air duct with mineral wool

The start of the year can bring chilly temperatures. If you have a loft, there’s a fair chance it’s under insulated, which is bad news as heating costs are high and a lot of it is wasted as it floats up and out the roof. If home renovations are on the cards, save yourself some money by following these expert tips…

Richard Burr shows DIY insulation means less heat is lost:

Preparing your loft

Most lofts are dusty, itchy repositories of old Christmas decorations, holiday stuff, childhood treasures you don’t have the heart to throw away, and spiders. If you intend to use your loft for storage, now is the time to get all this stuff out and give it a sort, clean and re-bag. Try using vacuum bags – they save loads of space and keep your stuff airtight, clean and dry. Before you empty the loft, clear a room and lay a plastic sheet down – things are going to be messy! You are going to need a clear run and plenty of space if you’re going to crack on with insulating your roof. Be careful to only tread on the wooden joists in your loft, or on the wooden staging if you have some. If you tread anywhere else, you risk putting a hole through the ceiling underneath.

Insulating the fiddly bits

You will most likely have a water tank and some pipes in your loft, which if installed correctly, have a jacket for the tank and pipe insulation for the pipes. Once you have finished insulating your loft, it will be much colder up there, as you will have trapped all the heat in the house where you want it. It is vital that all the pipes and tanks are properly insulated. Tank insulating kits are very straightforward. There is usually string to tie it in place, and the foam pipe insulation has a deep cut already in it that you can open and then wrap around the pipe. Any spotlights you have poking up through the ceilings should already have diffusers on them, but if they haven’t, pop the diffuser hoods on them, and remember to cut around them with your insulation, so you don’t crush them.

Laying out the insulation

When you take the outer packaging off the rolls of insulation, you’ll find some presliced perforations cut into them – these usually correspond with the widths of your joists, so you can lay the bottom layer of insulation between them. Use your saw to cut the insulation while it’s still rolled up and compressed. Measure the length of your loft allowing for 100mm of gap at the eaves (the bit where the roof touches the walls) for air flow, and cut lengths of insulation accordingly. Roll these into place starting from the space furthest from your loft hatch. Once you have finished laying the bottom layer of insulation, you will need to lay the top. Lay this across the joists (rather than in line with them) so the top layer is perpendicular to the bottom layer, once again leaving a 100mm gap at the eaves to allow for air flow. If you want to use your loft for storage, build wooden staging as described above.

Don’t forget the hatch!

You’re nearly done now. You’re probably itchy, hot and ready for a celebratory bucket of tea – but don’t give up just yet! Whether your loft hatch is hinged, or just rests on the frame, you’ll need to first attach some draught excluder to the hatch frame to stop hot air whistling up in to space. Next, you’ll need to lay insulation on the hatch itself. For the resting (non-hinged) type, this is easy, just cut the required shape and lay on top of the hatch, then take some of the plastic casing your insulation was delivered in, lay it over the insulation and staple it in place on the hatch, being careful to stick neatly to the edges. For hinged hatches, the method is much the same, just make sure your insulation is cut small enough to fit through the hatch frame as you close it.

Now have a long shower, a cup of tea, and enjoy your nice warm house for the rest of the winter. Happy building!

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