A Guide to Under-flooring Insulation

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Keeping our homes warm is important for health and wellbeing. One of the best ways of making your home more energy efficient is by installing proper heat insulation. Better insulation allows you to spend less on the energy needed to keep your home warm, which is why there is a continuous interest in its improvement.

Traditionally, this focus has concentrated areas such as windows, doors and lofts. As such, many homeowners spend money on these areas without really looking to see if there are any other areas that can affect insulation. One such area that has been overlooked in the past is floor insulation. Responsible for approximately 10% of the total heat loss of a home, floor insulation is now beginning to get the attention it deserves.

Does your house need underfloor insulation?

When thinking about whether your home requires underfloor insulation, there are a number of things you must consider. Firstly, if you are in an older home, it is likely that you have suspended timber floors. A simple way of improving such a home is to lay an insulation material, such as mineral wool, underneath the floorboards. For more modern homes, which often feature solid concrete ground floors, a simple method is to lay a rigid insulation material directly on top of the concrete.

When it comes to the upstairs of your home, insulation is not such an issue if rooms upstairs are directly above heated rooms downstairs. This is because the warm air from downstairs will rise, heating the room upstairs. However, underfloor insulation is recommended for upstairs rooms that are not directly above heated rooms downstairs. Such unheated spaces can include extensions and garages, and which can cause heat to be lost from your home if not properly insulated.

What are the different types of floor insulation?

Underfloor heating insulation is a new direction that more and more homeowners are turning to. Installing underfloor heating involves lifting the floorboards up to lay the insulative material below. It may be a fairly complicated process but the insulation provided will help to keep your home warmer for longer at a cheaper cost.

Providing excellent heating throughout the entire room, there are currently two main types of underfloor heating - wet systems and electric systems.

Wet systems feature underfloor pipes that are filled with hot water heated from a boiler – effectively turning the floor into a radiator. Electric systems on the other hand are proving a popular option for homeowners requiring only one or two rooms to be heated. While performing effectively, electric underfloor heating systems will raise your electricity bills. Therefore, any saving in terms of insulation must be compared to what your new electricity bill will be with the added cost of the underfloor heating.

Home and underfloor heating insulation may sound daunting, but in fact, there are numerous small things you can do to reduce heat loss. For example, small gaps, such as those between floorboards, can be easily fixed using a simple sealant. Inexpensive and fairly straightforward to do, sealing up such gaps can significantly improve your home’s overall insulation.

There are some other simple ways in which you can currently improve your home’s insulation without having to lift the floorboards:

  • The first involves simply using a form of sealant to close any gaps between floorboards and between skirting boards and the floor.
  • Secondly, laying a rug or carpet on top of floorboards will also help reduce heat loss.
  • Thirdly, adding a layer of insulative material, such as a polyfoam board on top of floorboards will also help.

How much could you save with under floor insulation?

When looking to improve your home’s insulation, it is important to know how much you will also save in terms of money on your energy bills. This is especially important if you are considering investing in something such as underfloor heating, which can have high initial outlay costs.

While it is difficult to come up with an exact average saving due to factors such as the size of the house and average energy consumption, the following figures can be used as a rough estimate:

For small terraced and semi-detached homes, underfloor insulation will provide energy bill savings of roughly £25 - £40 annually. This saving rises for detached homes and bungalows, with yearly savings anywhere between £40 - £65. In addition to reductions in monthly energy bills, underfloor insulation also improves your home’s carbon footprint, with homes making carbon dioxide savings of between 110 -290kg CO2/year.