Insulate your way through 2010

A very happy New Year to you! I hope you had a relaxing festive season and got to recharge your batteries over the break. How exciting that we are entering not only a fresh year but also a new decade. Perhaps you’re already busy thinking of New Year’s resolutions or what you’d like to do differently in the next ten years. Recently I’ve found myself looking back over the past few years and wondering what I’d like to do in the next ten.

That said – I know how tedious it can be to write New Year’s resolutions. Sometimes you wonder what the point is when you wind up breaking them in the first week anyway! So this year I’m only making one or two. But if you can’t think of any, I’ve got a suggestion for you. Why not resolve to insulate your home? OK, so maybe it’s not as exciting as resolving to become a millionaire or move to Australia. However, it should keep you warmer in what doomsayers reckon is turning out to be one of the coldest winters for 20 years – there are gloomy estimates of temperatures as low as -18 degrees c – and save you some much needed cash.

Just before the Christmas holidays we held an insulation event with the Energy Saving Trust in our home in Essex to try to encourage other residents to get cavity wall and loft insulation. According to the Trust, 50 per cent of heat is lost through the roof and walls of our homes, so insulating lofts and having cavity wall insulation done, if possible, is worth doing. Not everybody realises that it’s possible to secure grants from your energy supplier to help pay for insulation and you don’t have to be on benefits to qualify. Typically cavity wall will set you back about £500, but a grant from your energy company should halve the cost to around £250, while loft insulation generally costs around £250 to do from scratch.

The payback is fast, too. Cavity wall should save you around £115 a year in heating costs and, with an energy company grant, typically pays for itself in two years. If you have no roof insulation at all, getting your roof insulated will save you an estimated £150 on your bills each year and pay for itself within around two years. Unfortunately there are currently no grants available for solid wall insulation, although getting it done could save you around £400 a year on your energy bills. If you’re concerned that cavity wall insulation is messy and annoying to install, then don’t be. We had it done a few years ago. It’s a bit noisy – the installers show up with big hoses – and you might have to paint over the marks on your outside wall, but beyond that it’s relatively quick and painless to have done and you’ll feel the difference almost immediately. Make sure you get a properly qualified installer to work on your home.

The Energy Saving Trust reckons that there are 13 million homes in the UK which could benefit from loft insulation and 6.3 million which need cavity wall. If everybody in the UK insulated their lofts, we could save enough money to pay the gas bills of 770,000 families a year. Pretty staggering stuff!

Here are five other tips courtesy of the EST to help you heat your home more effectively:

– Close your curtains at dusk to cut the amount of heat escaping through your windows. Draught-proof your windows and doors.

– Set your thermostat at the lowest comfortable level (if you’re a pensioner or ill, make sure you’re not putting your health at risk).

– Use a timer so that your water and heating only come on when required. Set them to go off 20 minutes before you leave the house in the morning to avoid wastage.

– Insulate your hot water tank with a BS kite-marked jacket which should be 75mm thick. This should save you around £35 a year. Insulate your hot water pipes too.

– Bleed radiators regularly to removed unwanted air from the system and ensure its working effectively.

Are you making any frugal New Year’s resolutions? Leave a message and let me know.

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6 Responses to Insulate your way through 2010

  1. Flo says:

    This is the weather where people find out that their single glazed doors and windows let heat out and weather in or that external doors let in draughts. Or that the heating boiler badly needs replacing. The government may be offering £400 off a new boiler but to have it properly fitted and the associated radiators sorted is downright expensive. If you are renting your house you are at the mercy of the landlord with regards to insulation, heating, doors and windows. I spent last winter with rain and snow in the house till the housing officer managed to find funding to replace the side door on the weather facing wall. Even social housing associations do not have unlimited funds despite the pressure to meet the Decent Homes Standards legislation. It must be even more difficult for private landlords trying to cover their mortgages before they invest in necessary repairs and updates.

  2. Flo says:

    Frugal New Year Resolutions? Just the usual ones – quarterly reviews of the gas and electricity tariffs, summer reviews of the broadband and telephone tariffs for the next year, store cupboard shopping quarterly if possible and not to be repeated till the shelves are clear and fresh food shopping to be done as rarely as possible to keep out of the shops (both easy as a vegan with an allotment), no new clothes this year till at least half the present ones wear out, buy in sales, sort the laundry to make whole machine loads each time. In other words – just carry on being frugal.

  3. Andy says:

    It really pays to insulate, namely one feel better, and those(of mine) sayit too. I definitively agree Your nice attitude.May I recommend You the most happy new year. Regards; AnDy

  4. piper says:

    Well, at least it\’s a step in the right direction with the boiler scrappage scheme although it could definitely go much further and I imagine few people will have the cash available to pay for a replacement at the moment. My two NY\’s resolutions are to try to be more green and to try to have a \’glass half full\’ instead of \’glass half empty\’ attitude. That way, I\’m hoping I\’ll appreciate more what I already have instead of wanting something else. Finding it a bit hard to be upbeat today with the freezing weather though! So sick of snow! Still, it\’s much worse for the poor old Scots. DJ\’s gran\’s veg garden is frozen solid and she can\’t even dig up her veg to eat it.

  5. Bill says:

    The councils are all sticking to central heating, mostly gas, with a similar central hot water system. So damned expensive to supply & fit, so damned wasteful & expensive on energy.They flatly refuse to fit super safe, super clean, super efficient halogen convection/radiant room heaters, complete with overhead pullcord trip-switching, independent in each room. They also refuse to fit instant electric showers, even though equally efficient instant electric water heaters are possible on any kitchen sink, complete with modern, super safe, overhead pull-cord trip switching..With such morons in so-called authority, what hope do we have?

  6. Flo says:

    Piper that\’s a good resolution to be more green. It should help you to be more frugal. The don\’t buy it if you don\’t need it idea works well in helping us to use less natural resources. There\’s a whole host of small things that you can do like remembering to take a bag with you when you go anywhere near shops, finding second, third or fourth uses for plastic bags if you acquire one, using freecycle and charity shops, mending instead of replacing, composting, growing your own even if it\’s only some herbs on the kitchen window ledge, learning to make use of leftover food though the recipes may not be some of the fancy ideas that are advertised on telly, using book swap schemes, shopping locally as much as you can (even if it\’s the local supermarket that just saves on travel), making your own entertainment instead of relying on the radio, telly, internet (they don\’t encourage you to see people do they?). There are so many ideas about how to use less (which produces less landfill) without damaging your lifestyle.

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