In a recent article by the BBC[i], Chris Stark, head of the UK’s Climate Change Committee, emphasised a need for the UK to act faster to insulate UK homes, which is seen as a key component in helping to overcome the current energy crisis.
According to government data, around two thirds of UK homes need their insulation improved and the UK is also considered to have some of the most poorly insulated homes in Europe.
However, retrofitting insulation is frequently touted as being expensive, and Mr. Stark believes that the government needs to provide greater incentives to encourage people to invest in improving the energy efficiency of their homes.
In one example, the BBC highlight how a council spent £2.5m making the seventy-five flats on an estate more energy-efficient, by insulating the whole block, putting in triple glazed windows and a few other measures, at a cost of approximately £33,000 per flat. The same council believes it would cost an estimated £125m to bring the 5,000 homes it is responsible for up to the standard. If this were expanded across the estimated 4.4 million[ii] social housing homes in the UK, it would cost approximately £145 billion to make them as energy efficient. This massively exceeds the £3.9 billion[iii] the Government has currently committed to ensure buildings become warmer and cheaper to heat in England and Wales.
The BBC also highlights the choice between insulating outside walls, which is usually more expensive than internal insulation, versus the disruption and loss of inside space by using cheaper internal insulation panels.
At Zenova we agree fully with much of what the BBC article and Mr. Stark have to say. However, on several points we do disagree strongly.
At Zenova we have developed safe, quick, and easy to apply insulation products which are specifically suited for retrofitting. They are less expensive and disruptive than many of the solutions currently being used and are also environmentally friendly. As Zenova’s products can be applied to homes by trades people with existing relevant skills, their use is also not impacted by the shortage of specialist “home insulation installers” that has arisen because of Government cuts to home insulation schemes.
Take Zenova IR thermal insulation render, for example. This ready mixed and coloured render is applied in the same way as other non-insulating render or plaster, and can be applied to brick, concrete, plaster board and wooden exterior or interior walls. As a result, any suitably equipped and experienced tradesperson can apply it to create an attractive, long lasting, and thermally insulating layer to the inside and outside of a property.
There is also Zenova IP thermal insulation paint which can be applied to internal and external walls to improve insulation, and in roof voids and loft spaces, as well as on external roof surfaces, to improve insulation and reduce heat loss through a property’s roof.
Both Zenova insulation products also have anti-condensation and anti-mould properties at their core which stops condensation and damp forming on surfaces inside a building and prohibits the growth of mould – another sizeable issue faced by many properties in the UK.
In essence, whilst greater incentives are clearly needed to encourage people to improve the insulation of their homes, and to fund insulation improvements in social housing, it may not be as costly and difficult as is often suggested.
That is certainly something that those already using Zenova’s products are finding, with results backed up with thermal imagery to show the clear benefit of Zenova’s products in real-life situations and published third-party test results to underline their safety and performance.
Improving the insulation of UK homes is clearly an urgent issue, which does require greater incentives and funding. What is also needed though is a greater understanding by those involved in the housing insulation discussion that there are retrofit insulation solutions already available which could insulate UK homes quickly and without such an eye watering price tag attached.