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

Having decided that you wish to deliver projects under the Green Homes Grant, you need to consider how you become an accredited installer for the scheme. All contractors carrying out work under the Green Homes Grant must be TrustMark approved, and one way to gain accreditation is to become a member of the Insulation Assurance Authority (IAA); this organisation can turn applications around in just 12 days.

The IAA will provide several key services that are required under the TrustMark scheme, including guarantees for the insulation measures. As part of this accreditation, you will be required to demonstrate your competence to work to best practice requirements for each measure. These have to be proven through certain educational qualifications or in some circumstances, manufacturer-specific training. Your application will need to be endorsed by a supplying member system designer or manufacturer with the relevant fee and supporting information.

Loft insulation training from Saint-Gobain Insulation UK

It is the aspect of proving competence that is potentially the most challenging area, even for tradespeople with many years of experience. To address this, Saint-Gobain Insulation UK has developed a unique online training course solely for loft insulation installation that is pre-accredited by the IAA and complies with MTC requirements for PAS2030-17 standard. 

The half day training course covers a variety of topics around loft insulation installation, including:

  • How to install insulation through the Green Homes Grant
  • The implications and consequences of poor insulation
  • Demonstrating competence to the PAS 2030 standard
  • Why a whole-house approach is essential
  • The various types of typical loft insulation materials
  • The importance of pre-installation checks and assessments

For more information about our loft insulation training, or to sign up for the course, please visit our contractor training page.