Welcome to the Saint Gobain Insulation UK Blog

Here you will find the latest articles written by our team focusing on insulation solutions, product developments, and technical guidance.

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Helping contractors make the most of the Green Homes Grant

With the launch of the Green Homes Grant, the government has demonstrated its belief that improvements to people’s homes will provide a lasting effect not only to the occupants of dwellings but also the economy. As Alok Sharma, the Business Energy Secretary, stated following the launch of the scheme in August 2020:

“Green Homes Grants are a key part of our plans to build back greener, helping make 600,000 homes more energy efficient with government vouchers, while supporting 100,000 skilled jobs and supporting our transition to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.”

Several energy efficiency measures can be installed through the Green Homes Grant. These include loft insulation, internal wall insulation, external wall insulation and floor insulation, as well as double glazing and ground-source heat pumps.

As a contractor, it may be challenging to determine which measures to focus on and why. There are a number of considerations to weigh up, such as your technical proficiency, the number of jobs to cover, what’s best for the customer, the ability to source materials and, perhaps the most important of all, the ability to sell this vision and your services to the customer.

The benefits of loft insulation

These days, people care a lot about the environment and their carbon footprint. One of the largest contributors to our carbon emissions is the energy used in heating buildings. A large reduction in the heat loss of a house not only means an equivalent reduction in energy bills but also the same decrease in the contribution to climate change. Cutting the UK’s carbon emissions is also a priority for the UK government, and one of the main reasons for implementing the Green Homes Grant scheme.

Loft insulation, in particular, offers a huge range of benefits for homeowners, insulation installers and the environment.

According to the Simple Energy Advice (SEA) website, which is the entrance hub for the Green Homes Grant, the average amount of heat lost through a loft is around 25%. So, loft insulation is an obvious way to reduce heat loss and energy bills.

In addition, correctly installed loft insulation can last over 40 years. The cost of installing loft insulation is usually around £400, and this can generate an annual energy saving of over £200. By doing the maths, it’s easy to see the long-term benefit of this simple energy-efficiency measure. What’s more, its quick installation means that contractors can complete more projects in less time.

Improving energy efficiency with loft insulation

In many homes, a product from ISOVER’s Spacesaver range is likely to be the ideal loft insulation. This is a glass mineral wool that comes in various thicknesses and as such will cover the variety of jobs you work on.

You may also want to consider the advantages of Celotex PIR boards. Two products from the Celotex 4000 range are suitable for use in the loft space: Celotex GA4000 or Celotex XR4000. These can provide the same insulating benefit as glass mineral wool, but with a thinner build-up. This can be especially useful if the occupant wishes to use the loft for storage and wants to retain head height. PIR boards are structural and can be laid across the joists as opposed to adding additional joists and then floorboarding.

Choosing between mineral wool and PIR loft insulation

The real difference in choosing between glass mineral wool and PIR insulating material will come down to a variety of the factors that will be specific to each project. Customer requirements and your preferences as the contractor may also need to be considered – particularly in terms of material handling and being able to get products to site and into the installation location.

Topping up existing loft insulation

Homes with existing loft insulation may require a top-up of, either because the old insulation has settled and lost thickness over the years, or because it was never installed at today’s recommended thickness.

It is relatively easy to see if a project is suitable for a top-up, and top-ups are covered by the funding if the existing insulation doesn’t meet current Building Regulations. Depending on the requirements, any of the ISOVER or Celotex products listed above can be used to top-up existing insulation.

Becoming a Green Homes Grant installer

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This post aims to cover what a vapour control layer is, why it’s important and when it’s applicable to roof and floor applications.

Today, we are talking about another vital construction component called a vapour control layer, or a VCL.

At Saint-Gobain Insulation UK and within our bustling Technical Support Centre, our advisors are regularly asked questions relating to the VCL. What is it? What does it do? Am I using it the right way? With this in mind, our technical advisors have put together a VCL focussed FAQ post.

What is a vapour control layer (VCL)?

A vapour control layer helps you protect your building from the consequences of condensation. Condensation is formed when warm moist air penetrates the building fabric and then condenses into a liquid on contact with the colder surfaces outside the insulation layer. The idea behind a vapour control layer is to install it on the room (i.e. warm) side of the insulation so it blocks the passage of warm moist air entering the structure.

Why is a VCL important?

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What is PAS 2030 and how does it apply to the Green Homes Grant?

Publicly Available Specification (PAS) 2030:2017 describes how energy efficiency measures in dwellings should be specified, installed and commissioned. It forms part of a network of standards and quality assurance measures intended to deliver high quality retrofit work.

The Green Homes Grant scheme requires that installers are certified to PAS 2030 to ensure the delivery of high quality of work throughout the industry. However, the scheme was launched at a time when the retrofit sector was moving from PAS 2030:2017 to PAS 2030:2019. A temporary transition policy has been announced by BEIS (the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy).

Essentially, Green Homes Grant work may be carried out under either Specification, apart from in certain defined instances where both PAS 2035 and PAS 2030:2019 must be used.

How does TrustMark registration fit with PAS 2030?

The Green Homes Grant scheme has created a surge of interest in domestic retrofit. To minimise the risks of poor quality work being carried out, the government has sought to incorporate quality management into the scheme and as such all businesses must be registered with TrustMark which requires a commitment to customer service, technical competence and trading practices.

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