Thanks to Phil and Kirstie, the most famous phrase in property is ‘location, location, location’, but it could soon be usurped by ‘insulation, insulation, insulation’.
Soaring fuel bills have finally brought serious draught-proofing to the fore and proof that home owners are taking it seriously came late last year when the Government announced the second phase of its Green Deal Home Improvement Fund (GDHIF).
The fund, which offers cash back to those improving the energy efficiency of their homes, was overwhelmed with applications for the solid wall insulation part of the scheme, so much that it closed within 30 house, all spent up.
Solid wall insulation, both external and internal, is the most expensive and the most effective way of making sure your home is wrapped up warm. The GDHIF offered to fund up to 67 percent of the cost, up to £4,000, as long as you insulated at least half of the exterior-facing walls in your property. Prices for the work vary between £5,000 and £14,000 depending on the size of the hosue.
“Solid wall insulation has really taken off, because people have realised that it makes a remarkable difference to heating costs,” say Brian Horne of the Energy Saving Advice Service.
The Department for Energy and Climate Change is expected to announce a third phase of GDHIF funding for solid wall insulation before the end of this month and is advising home owners to be prepared if they want to apply.
The first step is to call the Energy Advice Service for a step-by-step guide. You will need an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) that is less than two years old. If you haven’t gpt one, you can get a Green Deal assessor to do the EPC. The cost varies between £60 and £100, though you can claim £100 back from the fund if your application is successful. You also need written quotes for the work from a registered Green Deal installer.
You are then ready to fill in the relevant form and apply for a cashback voucher as soon as the new tranche of funding is announce. Check the GDHIF website every day for the announcement, which should come 24 hours before the new scheme opens. If anyone is in any doubt of the benefits of solid wall insulation, the Chris Hopkins of Ploughcroft, a registered Green Deal installer, has done his maths to show that it is well worthwhile. He used the first and most generous phase of the GDHIF to insulate two Victorian terrace houses in Sowerby Bridge that he bough to let.
He put internal solid wall insulation on the exterior-facing walls and also insulated the converted loft rooms under the fund’s Room in the Roof scheme. Each of the houses has since enjoyed a £900 a year reduction in fuel bills and their EPC ratings have risen from an F to a C. In total, £12,000 was spent on each property, including £7,600 in cashback funding and Chris’ contribution of $4,400.
Chris adds: “The difference it makes is phenomenal and the insulation will pay for itself in four years. If you can’t afford to do all the alls then my advice is to do north and east-facing elevations as they are the coldest.”
The Green Deal Home Improvement Fund also offers a £1,000 cashback for installing two energy-saving measures, including secondary glazing and cavity wall insulation. If you apply within 12 months of buying a new home you can get an extra £500.
You should also check with your local authority for schemes funded by the big energy suppliers, as part of their carbon saving obligation. These can include free or heavily subsidised energy-efficiency work. Those on benefits may also be eligible for the Affordable Warmth scheme to replace an old heating system.
Another scheme to look out for is Better Homes Yorkshire, which launches in March. It is working with nine local authorities to offer home owners £750 off energy improvements.
Useful Contacts: Freen Deal Home Improvement Fund: Contact the Energy Saving Advice Service, tel: 0300 123 1234, www.est.org.uk; Ploughcroft, www.ploughcroft.co.uk; Better Homes Yorkshire, www.betterhomesyorkshire.co.uk