Life Tips Special: Green Your Gaff with Jon Cowdrill

Last month we talked about turning off your appliances. Today? I want you to insulate your gaff. I know I …

Last month we talked about turning off your appliances. Today? I want you to insulate your gaff. I know I sound like a right nag but I can’t stress the importance of insulation. And it’s even more important as we come into autumn and then winter.

Most housing, particularly the older kind has very poor thermal efficiency. This means that the lovely warmth that should be staying inside is flying up into the atmosphere. As heating is the largest contributor to our home energy consumption, anything you can do to prevent this heat loss will have a huge effect on your carbon emissions (and probably your energy bills too).

Gas and electricity suppliers are legally obliged to deliver household carbon savings. The cheapest and most effective way that this can be done is by using loft and cavity wall insulation.

The legislation forcing energy companies to reduce emissions expires at the end of the year. This is great news for wannabe gaff-greeners – as part of an end of season rush to meet their promised reductions there’ll be some fantastic offers. Elderly and low-income households can access the best deals, often free of charge, but vastly reduced prices are available for almost everyone. You don’t have to go through your current supplier so shopping around can get you an even better deal.

Start by checking your loft insulation. As you may remember from science lessons – heat rises, meaning 25% of it can escape through unprotected roofs. Head up to your attic with a tape measure. If you’ve got 27 cm of insulation up there already you’re set.

Lacking in insulation? You’ve got a project on your hands. If the thought of a little DIY terrifies you it’ll be easy enough to find a professional helping hand, otherwise it’s not too tricky to sort it all alone.

It’s also the perfect opportunity for a little loft tidy à la Cash in the Attic – who knows what you could find up there?

Once you’ve got a clean space, with or without a smiling handyman you can investigate what kind of insulation you’ll need. This moment will decide the cost of your project. Tense, right?

If you’re lucky enough to have a cavity wall you’ll be laughing – your insulation will be relatively cheap. An easy way to check what kind of wall you’ve got is to have a look at the brick pattern. If the bricks are all full length you’ve most likely got a cavity wall. A mixture of sizes and you’re looking at a solid wall.

Here the top wall drawing is an easily insulatable cavity wall and the bottom is a solid wall.

If your wall is solid there are a few options available but these are more costly. If you can, get external wall insulation.

There may be some grants available later this year if the Green Deal is launched.

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1. Check to see if you have loft insulation. If you don’t, either purchase it yourself (it’s subsidised) or contact at least 3 energy suppliers to get a quote. You’ve only got the rest of the year so get cracking. 2. Don’t have a loft or cavity wall? Not all buildings are that straightforward and you may need to get advice on the best course of action. Ask away!

Green Your Gaff is a series sponsored, written and produced by Joju Solar, who are based in North London (in fact just a yard or two from NW5).

Got a question for Jon? Fire away below.


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