Endsleigh specialise in Home Contents Insurance for people in the UK

Insulation & Energy Bills

Major Projects

A lot of readers are wondering how well our insulation projects have helped in lowering our sky high heating bills. Mid-winter is a good time to address these questions, since our bills are finally starting to show some long-term improvement.
We moved into our house a little over two years ago. When we showed up, there wasn’t an ounce of insulation in any of the walls. The attic space had some blown-in insulation and that was about it. Hot water pipes weren’t wrapped, cracks and gaps weren’t filled, and holes in the plaster walls meant you could actually feel gusts of wind come through from across the room. It was not an ideal situation for a climate that is arctic for 3 out of 4 seasons.

What we’ve done to lower our energy bills:

  • The first winter, we did damage control and quick fixes. We wrapped hot water pipes and the hot water heater with insulation and filled every crack and gap we could find with caulk, Great Stuff, or fiberglass. We also repaired most of the holes in the walls.
  • When we remodeled the kitchen, we put insulation in the new back 1/2 of the room. We also replaced a plexiglass window (in an exterior door!) with glass.
  • This past fall, we filled about 1/4 of the outer walls and a few ceiling spaces with blown-in insulation.
  • We came up with a creative solution for making the french doors in the kitchen a little more energy efficient.
  • We replaced 4 broken windows in our cupola; they had been boarded up, but we still must have lost quite a bit of heat from them.
  • When we gutted the stairwell, bathroom, and craft room, we put insulation in all of the outer walls and ceilings

I’d estimate that we now have about 1/2 the house insulated the way it should be. And the verdict is in: it’s paying off.

We’re on the “budget plan”, where they project how much your bills should be each month and then charge you an average price over the year. It’s supposed to be consistent, but it does vary somewhat. They readjust it every now and then when energy prices skyrocket or your usage changes drastically.

The Results:
Two years ago, our budget plan payments were about 25% higher than they are right now. Gas prices have gone up in that time. That’s a whole lot of money every month that is staying in our pockets – enough to cover the initial investments we’ve made in materials. To recup up-front costs over the course of two years is pretty impressive!

We also notice that the insulated rooms stay noticeably warmer than the non-insulated ones, even when they are not closed off from the rest of the house.

The french door plexiglass solution seems to be working since we rarely get condensation on the glass (which we always had, even with three pairs of curtains on them) and can’t feel any draft from them now. Best of all, we get tons of sunshine (and the warmth that comes with it) during the day.
We’ll keep insulating our walls and ceilings, since it’s definitely worth the effort!

Comments, Thoughts, and Feedback

BrooklynRowHouse had this to say on 02.27.07:

Big proponent here!

I’ve got a policy: if I’m covering it up, insulate it first. I even stuffed 6″ insulation into the wainscott bump-out in my bedroom reno, and it’s against an inside wall.

Walls benefit from insulation in two other significant ways.

Sound transmission: a wall is basically a big drum. Whatever sound hits the surface of one wall resonates in the cavity, causing the opposite wall to resonate sympathetically too. Insulation breaks up that standing wave inside the wall, or at least the midrange frequencies.

Fire: insulation reduces the amount of available air inside the wall to feed an electrical fire as well as the “chimney effect” that can suck in fire from a lower floor.

Addie had this to say on 02.27.07:

Very cool – or maybe I should say very warm!

colleen had this to say on 03.01.07:

filling in the cracks and holes also keeps out the bugs and the critters. our interior walls are insulated as well and it realy does help with the sound transmission. my nieghbors spent over $500.00 a month last yr for propane to heat their house. we saved a bunch by installing one of those high output wood stoves. my propane guys arnt happy but oh well.we actually have the styrafoam + r20 in the walls. if i could id have in floor heat its easy to instal and very efficient. youve done a great job with this house, the decorating design and repairs. yrs ago my dad put plastic over the windows ick but it actually did work.

Kevin had this to say on 03.02.07:

we found the same to be true with our project – we had Icynene injected into the walls of our 1920’s foursquare when we replaced the siding. it has made a tremendous difference in our utility bills and sound transmission. worth every penny, and hopefully will pay for itself in the coming years.

Kristin had this to say on 03.02.07:

Congrats! You make me want to make a little more effort on the insulation/crack-filling front. Our winters are mild, but we still had a big-ass gas bill last month. It prompted me to finally get on the budget billing plan!

We love to hear from you, dear readers.

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