I have been living in my present house for about 15 years and the level of insulation was not at the top of my agenda. However, just before Christmas I decided to investigate the options. These seemed to be come down to either improve the wall insulation or double glaze. I did not consider improvements to the attic insulation as I already had insulation in the attic (or so I thought).
The double glazing salesperson came with the hard sell and offered large discounts if I signed up straight away. Needless to say I didn’t sign up as the payback was excessive. I then decided to check the attic. The fist step was to determine the recommended minimum insulation. A quick look at SEAI’s web site suggested 250 mm to 300 mm of glass fibre with the insulation to be placed first between the joints and then across the joists. The next step was then to measure what was there. All seemed well at first as there was about 75 mm across the joists and with the depth of the joists at about 200 mm this seemed to be the right level. However, on closer inspection there was no insulation between the joists and thus I had the barest level of insulation for 15 years. Whether the previous home owner had done this himself or got a dodgy contractor to do the work I don’t know. Naturally, the job is now done properly with 350 mm of insulation.
Of more importance than my story is whether my experience is typical of the nation at large and whether Ireland is missing out on a quick fix to energy efficiency as attic insulation is the cheapest way to insulate a house. The question to ask is how many homes have adequate attic insulation. A recent UK survey suggested that 66% of homes with an attic have insulation, the definition of insulation being more than 125 mm. By that definition, my home had none.
To help address the situation my thoughts are as follows
- Have a campaign to ask homeowners to measure their insulation thickness and compare with the recommended minimum (a smart phone app to do this and then calculate the waste in money by have too little insulation would help).
- Ask insulation contractors such as double glazing installers to sign up to a code of practice to ensure that they have also reviewed the level of attic insulation and explained the benefits of improvements to this insulation. If they included this information with their quotation, they could probably half the payback period and make their proposal much more interesting.
Whilst it is now mandatory to include BER ratings with house sale advertisements, this is not going to have much effect as the main concern when buying is location (and then location, and then location). However, forcing auctioneers and others to disclose the level of attic insulation and whether it in line with the recommended levels may just help act as a spur to the new home owner to improve matters. If this information had been made available when I first bought my house, then I would have had no excuse to do nothing