Have we insulated sensibly?

Lambs Running

A fairly large proportion of the energy used in the UK is used for heating homes. Most of this is from burning gas. This releases a great deal of carbon dioxide from fossil carbon. We can burn less gas by reducing the temperature of our home (and wearing warmer clothes around the home) or by installing more insulation. Insulation can be a very powerful means of reducing energy used. It can be most easily added to the loft. It can also be added to walls and floors. And when we need to change our windows and external doors we can ask for the best energy efficient ones that include more insulation in the frames and glazing (for windows this can now mean triple glazing systems with two layers of trapped gas). To keep insulation effective we need to keep it dry and we must make sure the house is suitably ventilated to reduce the risk of damp.

Types of domestic insulation

Examples of some insulation materials are shown in the image

  • Loft insulation – for houses with accessible loft spaces above the ceilings
  • External wall insulation – often the best choice for older houses with solid walls
  • Cavity wall insulation – ideally installed when the house is built – retrofitting can be problematic especially if there is side-driven rain
  • Internal wall insulation – an alternative using insulated plasterboard but this can use up a tiny bit of room space
  • Under floor insulation – ideally installed when the house is built – can be added if under-floor heating systems are desired
  • Under-rafter insulation – for houses where the roof space is used for living

Examples of a few insulation materials are shown in the image

Selection of Insulation Materials
From left to right: grey polystyrene (EPS) for external wall insulation, insulated plasterboard, high performance phenolic panel, multifoil insulation, foil-backed polyisocyanurate (PIR)

Other common insulation materials include glass fibre, mineral fibre, wood and wool and there are many other insulation materials on the market.

More and more people are becoming interested in insulation these days with the great increase in energy prices and there are quite a number of guides on the internet to help. A good introduction can be found here.

In our reference pages we share some learning from our own insulation projects:

Useful knowledge (loft, under-rafter, external wall, internal wall and cavity wall)


We also have an educational resource on heat loss