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Lofty thoughts

Flaming July might seem a slightly odd time to be thinking about loft insulation, but it’s worth getting this basic bit of energy efficiency properly sorted well ahead of the winter. About one quarter of your home’s warmth is lost through a poorly insulated loft.

Most homes with lofts have an insulated loft floor, so that the loft space itself is cold in winter (and warm in summer). But where the loft is used for other than storage, as a spare room perhaps, the insulation would need to be between the rafters to keep the loft space warm.

Various types of insulating material are available – each with pros and cons. The prime concern is thermal effectiveness, but other factors include fire resistance, sound-proofing, long-term performance and cost. Choosing between mineral (stone) fibre, glass fibre, foil-backed felt, fleece, recycled plastic, loose-fill foam or pellets and various others is an absorbing pastime in itself. Fortunately there’s no shortage of guidance on the web.

Most of us with lofts usually have at least some insulation – so, more often than not, it’s a matter of making sure it’s up to the recommended standard, particularly in terms of thickness. Some types of insulation tend to degrade and flatten after several years, which reduces their effectiveness. The commonest type, mineral wool, rolled out between the joists, generally holds its structure well, but check that it’s at least 270mm thick (current building regs), about twice the height of your typical joists. Take a peek and if you can see your joists between the insulation you need about another 200mm laid across the tops. Be careful not to tamp down or squash any insulation with walk boards. This drastically reduces the thermal effectiveness. If you need walk boards, they can be supported on special struts from building suppliers.

A key element in all this is cost, the bulk of which is labour. A typical loft top-up will cost a few hundred pounds to have done professionally, but that will usually be recouped in saved energy bills in a couple of winters. If you have a tame DIY enthusiast handy, it’s a pretty straightforward job, as long as the fitting and safety instructions are carefully followed. Again, loads of guidance on the web.

For more detailed info about loft insulation – indeed all types of insulation including wall insulation, double -glazing, draught exclusion, and pretty well every aspect of domestic energy efficiency you can think of and some you can’t – check out the webpages of the Energy Saving Trust, You can also receive free personalised guidance on government grants for various types of household, particularly if you or someone you live with are on benefits, by getting in touch with the Warm and Safe Wiltshire service, either through their website or by ringing 0800 038 5722.

Green Energy for Schools – our latest share offer coming soon

A quick reminder that our latest share offer, enabling Nadder Community Energy to provide cheap, green energy for another batch of local schools whilst giving investors an attractive rate of interest, is excitingly imminent. Full details soon.

And finally …

A huge thankyou to all who took part in our Tisbury Eco Trail on 10 June for Great Big Green Week, particularly the home owners who gave visitors so much useful info on their various eco-friendly adaptations, and to Rosie Buck for putting it all together.

Alan Maryon-Davis

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