Floor Insulation: Saving Energy At Home
A cold, poorly insulated floor can be a particularly unpleasant part of an inefficient home. You notice it whenever your feet touch the floor, especially in the winter and early in the morning. Thankfully, there are many inexpensive and simple solutions to stop energy escaping through your floor.
Insulating Wooden Floors
Wooden floors typically allow more heat to escape than carpeted floors. Not only is carpet a better insulator than wood, but wooden floors are also prone to cracks, gaps and holes, allowing air to pass through them. Plugging the holes, using a suitable sealant, can easily prevent these leaks. Make sure that any airbricks underneath the floor are not blocked, as the wood needs to be ventilated to prevent it from rotting*.
In addition to stopping the leaks, wooden floors can also be insulated. A suitable insulating material, such as mineral wool, can be placed beneath the floorboards between the joists. This extra layer of insulation can considerably improve the energy efficiency of the floor, making the floorboards feel warmer to the touch.
Insulating Carpeted Floors
Carpeted floors are usually the warmest floor type. The nature of carpet makes it a good insulator in itself. However, a thick, insulating layer of underlay, laid underneath the carpet will further improve its insulating qualities.
Like wooden floors, carpeted floors should be checked for holes and cracks, not in the carpet itself, but in the surrounding skirting board and the floorboards underneath. These leaks should also be stopped, in the same way as for a wooden floor (see above).
Insulating Tiled Floors
Tiled floors can be extremely cold, as the material conducts heat very well. There is little you can do to improve the energy efficiency of a tiled floor, due to its rigid nature and the fact that it is usually laid on a concrete base.
Tiled floors can benefit from the checking for leaks, as with wooden floors. The skirting boards should be checked, as should the grouting between the tiles.
Insulating Vinyl Floors
Vinyl floors are usually good insulators. This natural insulation can be supplemented with insulating underlay, laid underneath the vinyl. The vinyl should be checked for tears and cracks, particularly around the edges.
The same checks for air leaks, in the form of cracks in the skirting boards and the floor base, should be performed with vinyl floors.
Fixing leaks and laying insulation, or underlay, is very inexpensive and easy to do as a DIY job. The work may pay for itself in a very short period of time, and is a quick and easy way to save energy. This will save you money on your home heating bills and reduce your household greenhouse gas emissions.
If you are concerned about making your floorboards rot by incorrectly installing your floor insulation, it will give you piece of mind to get a professional to install it for you. They can also quickly find and plug leaks in the floor or skirting board. As the cost of the materials is very low, you may still find it very cheap to get someone to install it for you.
* Source: The Energy Saving Trust - www.energysavingtrust.org.uk