Loft insulation compromised by storage needs
Could householders’ hoarding instincts thwart the government’s energy efficiency plans? Mike Hardware reports
The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has published its latest figures on home insulation. Home insulation levels in Great Britain estimates that since April 2008 (when the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target, CERT, came into operation) 4.3 million lofts, 2.2 million cavity walls and 64,000 solid walls have been insulated. Since January this year alone, more than 500,000 lofts, 280,000 cavity walls and 6,000 more solid walls have been insulated.
Although DECC can claim from these figures that 62 percent of homes with lofts are now insulated with at least 125mm of insulation, it has been suggested that the reality is more complicated.
David Lennan, chairman of LoftZone, a company that has developed a product to improve the use of lofts, said: “The figures paint a rosy picture of the undoubted success in insulating homes, but they don’t really tell the whole story.
“Of the claimed 14.6 million homes with loft insulation, our research shows that 82 percent of lofts are also used for storage. This means they are either boarded or have items placed on top of the insulation, in both cases compressing the insulation and reducing its effectiveness.
“So the real figure of homes that are fully benefitting from at least 125mm of loft insulation is actually 2.6 million, which is only 11 percent of total homes with lofts, not 62 percent claimed by DECC.”
Cause for concern
As the government’s ambitions for the green deal and the energy company obligation (ECO) rely so heavily on insulation, this should be an issue of concern. LoftZone, which is supported by the Carbon Trust, commissioned a survey of 6,000 people from a cross-section of ages, occupations, UK geographical regions and household incomes. Apart from revealing that 82 percent of residents use their loft for storage, it also showed that of these, 78 percent more than half-filled their lofts, 76 percent said such storage was important or essential to them, and 65 percent have fully or partially boarded their loft.
Phil McGrory, managing director of Climate Energy Solutions, an installation company based in Braintree, Essex, said that the conflict between insulation and storage had existed since loft insulation was introduced. He said: “Many home owners need their lofts for storage, but all homes should be insulated.
“People are either reluctant to have their lofts insulated as they don’t want to clear out the mess, or they simply board or pile stuff on top of the insulation after it has been installed.
“Despite being advised not to do this by the installers, they still do it and are oblivious to the consequences.”