It is often claimed that over 30% of heat from your home is lost through the walls. Cavity wall insulation is one of cheapest and most efficient ways stop this leakage. For years, it has been widely promoted as an easy and effective way to improve home energy efficiency and reduce bills.
How did this happen?
Energy companies, under increasing pressure to hit energy saving targets and backed by funding from the UK government, have pushed the benefits of cavity wall insulation hard over the last 20 years. The money saving benefits made it very popular with homeowners, many of whom were able to get it installed at no cost to themselves. Over 6 million UK homes now have it.
But, in their rush to go green, some householders are wondering whether they have actually gone too far. A growing number of people are discovering that their cavity insulation is actually making their home colder, damper, and less energy efficient than it was before.
The problem is that not all houses are suited to retrofit cavity wall insulation.
If your house was built later than 1930, then it is likely that it was built with cavity walls. The cavity is there for a reason; it’s there to keep the inside of your home dry.
Many homes are not naturally watertight. Bricks can become porous and absorb water, which enters through small cracks in the render or pointing, especially during periods of persistent, driving rain. The original purpose of cavity walls was to prevent the spread of damp from the outer walls to the inside of the house by the introduction of an air gap.
Cavity wall insulation, installed improperly or into an unsuitable building, fills the gap and provides a handy conduit for the water which then travels from the outer walls and through the increasingly wet insulation to the inside of the house. The insulation, designed to minimise air flow, never gets a chance to dry out and remains permanently sodden.
The problems caused by improperly fitted insulation can take years to become apparent. Issues such and mould and damp can impact interior décor and plaster, affect the health of the occupants, and actually increase energy bills. As this information has become more accessible online, homeowners have turned to the Cavity Insulation Guarantee Agency (CIGA), the independent body who were meant to oversee and guarantee the work, to ask for a solution.
Will mis-selling of cavity wall insulation one day rival PPI, or the endowment scandal?
The full scale of the issue is not yet known: estimates range from a conservative 12,000 to a possible 3,000,000 affected homes. But, with six million guarantees issued over the last 20 years, CIGA could find itself struggling to fix this.
Worried about your own insulation? Condensation, cold spots and damp patches are all indicators of damp insulation. If you are concerned and want more information you can call us on 01903 331 578 and we’ll be glad to talk you through your options.