The Easter bank holiday weekend always heralds the start of the DIY season. With fuel bills rising, there are a number of tasks you can undertake to improve the energy efficiency of your home. Now is the ideal time to get your insulation ship shape, block up those draughts and use some simple energy saving tricks to help trim down those heating bills.
Check your loft insulation to see if it’s adequate for your home. If your roof is un-insulated, you could be losing around a quarter of your heat through the roof space. This leads to cold homes and high energy bills. The good news is that loft insulation has a 40-year lifespan, and can be suitable for DIY. Even if you have a professional install your insulation, it will pay for itself in energy savings many times over.
If you have a pitched roof, there are two main ways to insulate a loft, you can either use a blanket style insulation that goes between and over the joists, or you can call in a professional to insulate between and over the rafters. The recommended depth of blanket style loft insulation (mineral wool) is a minimum of 270mm. If your insulation is less, you can top it up yourself. Installation of mineral wool insulation can be a DIY job if you have easy access to the loft, with no damp or condensation issues.
If your loft is currently boarded out for storage, it’s unlikely to have enough insulation. You will either need to raise the floor to fit in an adequate level of insulation, or you could insulate the rafters. Insulating rafters is a job for professionals as it requires the installation of rigid insulation boards or sprayed foam insulation. Other jobs for professionals include insulating damp roof spaces (as additional ventilation or specific insulation may be required) and flat roofs. For more information on the dos and don’ts of loft insulation, check out the Energy Saving Trust website at energysavingtrust.org.uk
When insulating the loft you’ll also need to insulate plumbing and heating pipework, storage tanks and cisterns. Kevin Wellman, CEO of the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE) explained, ‘Insulation traps heat within the home, and so your loft space will be colder and more prone to frozen or burst pipes during winter. Lagging pipework and insulating tanks and cylinders correctly is a relatively cheap and easy task to undertake, but if you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself, call in the services of a professional engineer.”
Kevin added that blocking up unwanted gaps surrounding windows, doors, letter boxes and loft hatches (draught-proofing) will save energy and make indoor spaces much more comfortable. Additionally, installing special foil to the wall behind radiators stops heat escaping through walls and reflects heat back into the room. Strips of draught-excluding material and radiator reflective foil can be bought from merchants and DIY outlets and easily installed in your home.
When it comes to those energy saving jobs that need a professional, having your boiler serviced sits at the top of the list. Kevin explained, “Annual boiler servicing ensures it is working safely and at its peak efficiency, to ensure you get the best from your boiler. Regular maintenance will also help to expand its lifespan and avoid costly breakdowns, which is the last thing you need on top of high energy bills.”
“You should also ask for a plumbing health check to be carried out to ensure the rest of your plumbing and heating system is working effectively and not wasting water or energy.”
If you need to improve the energy efficiency of your heating system or book in your annual service, your local heating engineer can help. Find a professional online at www.ciphe.org.uk