Beat the cost of heating with roof insulation

Types of loft insulation

It might surprise you to learn that some of the first people in history to insulate their homes were the Inuits of the icy Canadian landscape. Igloos might look pretty chilly, but in comparison to the -50 degree temperatures outside they’re actually quite snug.

Save money with roof insulation

The structures were made from whalebone and hide, then snow was added because the air pockets trapped in it provided insulation. In the more temperate climates we live in, insulation serves a double purpose – it keeps the cold out in winter and the heat out in summer.

In much the same way, your roof is key to insulating your home throughout the year. During a British winter you could lose over 30% of the heat in your home if your roof isn’t properly insulated. That has a drastic impact on your heating bills which, quite literally, go through the roof. There are a wide range of roof insulation options available, determined by factors such a cost-effectiveness, sustainability, thermal performance and so on.

This post will looks at of the most common types of roof insulation – blanket loft insulation, loose-fill insulation and sheet insulation.

Blanket loft insulation

Blanket insulation is probably the most common type found throughout the UK, being relatively easy to fit and not too expensive. It’s bought in rolls and laid down between the joists of your loft. You can lay blanket insulation yourself but it’s often advisable to get a professional to fit it for you. For a start, some times can seriously irritate the skin so you need to know what you’re working with. Then there’s the issue of clambering about in the loft. Even the fittest and most flexible of homeowners can easily put a foot wrong and find they’ve gone straight through the bedroom ceiling. Wiring and plumbing are two further considerations when fitting blanket roof insulation – both need to be dealt with carefully and safely. Wires should be kept above the insulation but mustn’t be stretched, for safety reasons. Pipes should be insulated to ensure they don’t freeze in a cold snap, but be careful you don’t accidentally loosen any joints or you could end up with a pernicious leak which will eventually bring the ceiling down.

Blanket loft insulation

Loose-fill loft insulation

A variety of lightweight or granular materials can be used for loose-fill insulation, such as mineral wool, cork granules, cellulose fibre or even recycled newspaper for a greener option. Although it fits neatly between joists, loose-fill insulation can become loose in draughtier lofts. It’s definitely best installed by a professional, as protective clothing and safety equipment are required.

If you don’t have boards in the loft, loose-fill insulation can be blown around by high winds permeating the loft space, so you’ll need to check it every now and then during the winter months. It’s best used for awkwardly-shaped or difficult to reach areas, as it can be poured in rather than pressed to fit, as with blanket insulation.

Loose fill loft insulation

Sheet roof insulation

To fully ensure you’re getting the most from your household heating and not wasting money on sky-high bills, sheet roof insulation is an excellent solution. This should edfinitely only be undertaken by a professional though, it’s not a job to tackle yourself. Firm boards are fitted over the sloping insides of the roof, keeping out draughts, rain, snow and debris. Fire-resistant boards are also available for an extra level of safety. This is a particularly importnat measure if you’re planning to use the loft space for anything other than storage. If it’s going to be used as an extra room, you should definitely consider sheet insulation. Various different types of board are available, including some greener options such as cork or straw board. It has a very high insulation value which many people feel makes the extra cost worthwhile. When installing, you need to be careful to avoid future condensation problems by leaving enough space for ventilation between the insulation boards and your roof tiles. You also need to ensure the roof doesn’t have any gaps, cracks, holes or other weaknesses that could let moisture in before you start work – otherwise you’ll run into serious problems further down the line. Climbing around in the loft nailing boards to rafters is a job best left to professionals unless you’re an extremely skilled and experienced DIYer.

Thoughts of a Bristol roofer

Roof insulation is a great choice to counter the worst of the British winter but it’s not an easy job to undertake. Whichever type of insulation you choose, besure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter to avoid damage to your home or injury to yourself or your family. If in any doubt whatsoever, contact a professional before starting – you might just save yourself a lot of hassle as well as saving on your heating bills.

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