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Loft Conversion - Insulation 

Improving energy efficiency

As we mentioned in the intro, opening your gas or electricity bill and finding out how much it costs to heat your home is rarely a pleasant experience.
 
Heating bills
 
The price of energy is also definitely on the rise, so it may be time to review just how energy efficient your home is - starting with the insulation. Remember, hot air rises and between 25-30% of heat loss occurs through uninsulated roofs.

The answer, of course, is providing a barrier between you and the oustide - preferably one that will keep the warmth in and the cold out.
Most modern houses come with both loft insulation and cavity-wall insulation for maximum efficiency, but older houses may not have these. And even if they do, it may be getting to the stage where fresh insulation needs to be put in place.

Putting down insulation is also a job that even the first-time DIY'er can attempt. As long as it's planned properly, and assuming your loft is junk-free, it should take no longer than 1/2 a day.
 

Blanket coverage

The positive news is that roof insulation isn't expensive. All DIY stores stock it, and it comes in 2 kinds: blanket (in rolls) and loose fill (in bags).
 
Blanket roof insulation

The most common is blanket, and the minimum depth should be 200mm (about 8").
 
 
Not sure how much to buy?

This will involve a trip into the eaves with a tape measure. Quite a simple task - the gap between joists is pretty standard so just measure the length of each cavity and count how many there are, then add it all up.

While you're there, it'll be worth checking 2 things:

Safety first

1. Lighting

Don't attempt any type of work in the loft by torchlight. It's too risky. If you don't have any lighting, then sort out a lead light and hang it up from a suitable vantage point.

2. Safety

This is important. Don't take any chances walking around your loft. A foot through the ceiling will not only be very expensive but may also require a call to the emergency services!

To avoid an accident, take care to put down a couple of scaffolding boards across the joists to support your weight. And look out for any tricky areas that might require some crawling.

Cover yourself up!

This is one of the reasons that a loft insulation project should be attempted when the temperature drops - you don't do it in shorts and a T-shirt!

Why? Because glass-fibre has a tendency to irritate like never before. It can be serious torture if you get in on your skin!

Ideally wear overalls. A mask and gloves are also a MUST! And try not to leave any gaps - the stuff can literally get anywhere!
 

Other things you'll need

For cutting the rolls: a kitchen knife
For cutting around light fittings: scissors
 

Get rolling

After preparing properly, laying the insulation should be relatively straightforward. Just watch out for a couple of things:

1. Cables

There will be plenty of electrical cables in the loft. Be careful not to cut them! And ALWAYS make sure they are PLACED ON TOP of the insulation when it's layed to avoid any wires overheating.

2. Cut around light fittings

For the same reason, the lamp fittings in the ceiling will also need to be exposed. Use the scissors to cut a hole in the insulation.

3. Filling tricky areas

Although we haven't covered it here, cavities can be completely filled using loose fill insulation. We think loose fill is best, though, for the gaps that can be difficult to fill using rolls. 
 
A nice sprinkle here and there - especially around pipes - will complete the job nicely!
 
Can't afford to insulate?

A new government initiative, known as 'The Warm Front Grant', focuses on households with the greatest health risks - older people, families with children under 16 years and people who are disabled or have a long-term illness.

A Warm Front Grant can provide a package of insulation and heating tailored to each property, including:
  • Loft insulation
  • Draughtproofing
  • Cavity-wall insulation
  • Hot water tank insulation
Full details are available via the link below.
MORE IN THIS SECTION
Loft Conversion - What's possible?
Loft Conversion - Rules and regulations
Loft Conversion - Who to speak to
RELATED LINKS
Warm Front - more details
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