There’s never been a better time to make home improvements – since you can’t travel for the foreseeable future, you need to do something with all that cash you’ve been saving!
So why not use it to save money on your energy bills, reduce your carbon footprint and make your home more comfortable, especially if you’re now working from home?
Insulation is the perfect way to achieve all these things. And the great news is, insulating your existing home can be much easier and more cost effective than you might think.
With efficient insulation you can:
- Make real savings on your energy bills, because you won’t need to run heaters and air conditioners as regularly
- Increase your level of comfort, because you’ll be able to maintain desired temperatures more naturally, so you can stay warmer in Winter and cooler in Summer
- Reduce your environmental footprint, because you’ll be using less energy and producing less emissions
Existing houses and insulation
Typically, houses built before 2000 either have no insulation or their insulation has become inefficient. If energy bills are high and/or it’s difficult to maintain temperatures in your home, these are tell tale signs that your insulation needs some attention.
It can be helpful to conduct an initial assessment of your insulation, if you’re able to access the cavities safely. Look for issues including:
- Different heights
- Worn out appearance
- Evidence of vermin
It may not be necessary to completely remove your insulation; you may be able to top it up. This will depend on the severity of the issues, so it’s advisable to have an expert conduct a proper inspection, and they can advise on the best solution to suit your situation and needs.
An expert will also be able to provide thermal images of your home, to highlight particular areas in problem walls where heat is unnecessarily escaping or being absorbed, such as those westerly facing walls.
Older insulation materials may not meet current standards covering the insulation industry, which specify the R-Value requirements. It’s important to check the R-Value for your climate zone, as different conditions have different requirements.
Of course not all houses are made equal, so the insulation options available to you will vary depending on variables such as, the structure and construction of your home, location and budget. Let’s take a look at the different options and specific considerations when it comes to old houses.
A lack of or inefficient wall insulation will have a massive impact on the levels of comfort and efficiency of your home.
Whether your walls are made of brick or timber, the thermal mass of the materials is typically low – which means your home will lose heat unnecessarily in the Winter and retain it in the Summer. In fact, timber frames rely entirely on insulation to maintain thermal mass, making it even more critical to install an effective solution.
Luckily, it is possible to insulate existing walls without having to rip anything out:
Brick Veneer Wall
If your walls are constructed with brick, the insulation can be pumped into the wall cavities from the roof of the property to fill up the width of the wall frame. We then remove a brick under any windows to fill underneath and ensure you have near 100% coverage, and re-mortar the brick back into position.
Timber Frame Wall
To avoid removing gyprock unnecessarily, holes can be carefully cored into the gyprock material and insulation pumped into the voids between the studs and noggins. We then replace the core and plaster, so it’s like we were never there.
There are a number of different options regarding insulation material to suit your style and budget:
An Australian-made high performance cubed polystyrene wall and closed cavity insulation.
Also known as glasswool or earthwool insulation, fibreglass batts are designed for exterior cavity walls.
Thermally bonded polyester fibre insulation that’s versatile, easy to install, safe and odourless.
Without the right roof insulation, you could be losing up to 35% of your heating/cooling capacity out of the top of your house. So installing an efficient solution will not only allow you to make considerable savings on energy bills, it will also contribute to a much more environmentally sustainable home.
In terms of insulation materials, there are four main options available:
A premium pump-in roof insulation product, designed and manufactured in Australia using Australian wool, recycled paper, Borax and Boric acid (both of which are naturally occurring salts). This material gives 100% coverage and is fire retardant, vermin resistant and reduces mould. It is a great environmentally friendly option.
Made from the same materials as pillows and doonas. This is a good option for those with allergies and asthma. It’s safe to handle, doesn’t attract vermin and has zero spread of flame.
Fibreglass insulation is made up of melted glass spun into a mat of fibres. It has zero spread of flame and is a more cost-effective option.
Bradford Black Fibreglass
This is a newer version to standard Fibreglass and is more user friendly than its older version. It is made using recycled glass and natural organic binders, so is low itch and has hypoallergenic properties.
Insulating underneath your timber floors creates a barrier that protects your home from the airflow beneath your property, so your home becomes much more thermally efficient.
The best insulation material to use for under your floors is polyester, as it is not affected by moisture, has zero ignitability and spread of flame, and is naturally resistant to vermin and insect attack.
Insulation Top Up
As mentioned above, if your current insulation is in a reasonable condition it may be possible to simply add a layer of new insulation on top. This is a much more cost-effective solution to complete removal and reinstallation, as it can be achieved with minimal disturbance to your home.
A Woolcell or Cellulose Fibre Pump-In product is recommended for top ups, because they provide close to 100% coverage and eliminate air pockets (thermal bridging) that may happen when topping up with batts on top of batts.
Where to start with your home improvements and insulation
Now you have a better understanding of the options available to you, we recommend speaking with an expert to get tailored advice for your specific home and requirements. A lot of companies will offer a free site visit, so it’s worth taking advantage of this so you can find a solution that allows you to maximise the results of your renovation and keep within your budget.