From East Africa to Edinburgh – a journey to sustainable floor insulation

At Snugg, our mission is to make energy efficient homes simple and affordable for everyone. And we're practising what we preach.

Andrea McFarlane
B2B Marketing
22/8/2022

Around one fifth of the UK’s total carbon emissions come from our homes. So the government has set a target for all homes to have an energy efficiency rating (EPC) of C or better by 2035. But with some of the oldest and draughtiest housing stock in Europe, homeowners are going to need all the help they can get.

At Snugg, our mission is to make energy efficient homes simple and affordable for everyone. And we're practising what we preach.

One of the first team members to improve their own home is our Business Development Director, Mike Teall. He's been on a mission to improve his home's Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating from D to C.

A sustainable African solution to floor insulation

Mike’s home is a 1930’s brick-built detached house in Edinburgh. It’s a listed building, which means it's harder to make some changes like fitting double-glazing or solar panels. But Mike still had a few options.

Floors lose an estimated 10-20% of a home's heat. And Mike’s draughty home was particularly hard to keep warm in winter due to its mix of carpet and wooden flooring. So he decided to install floor insulation to make his home warmer.

Most under-floor insulation is made of fibre glass, wool or foam. All work in the same way, blocking heat loss and reducing drafts. But with a commitment to sustainability, Mike chose a different floor insulation product from Sisaltech.

Sisaltech's product uses circular economy materials like waste wool from the Harris Tweed industry. They blend it with sisal, a sustainable fibre crop grown by small-scale farmers in east Africa. The result is 'Sisalwool' - insulation that has 5% of the carbon footprint of foam insulation. It's breathable to avoid condensation problems and it's safer to handle.

A small team installed the insulation between joists under the floor in one day. They accessed the space using existing hatches and creating new hatches where necessary. The springy nature of Sisalwool meant that it was easy to fit, with no gaps or need for netting to keep it in place. The team made sure that the cosmetic appearance of Mike's wooden floor was maintained. And they carefully returned the carpets to their original position.

The process was quick, efficient and a lot less disruptive than Mike's family expected. But there were some areas of flooring that the installation team wasn't able to access. So some small areas remain uninsulated. Despite this, all major draft sources were successfully eliminated.

 

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Floor insulation costs and bill savings

Some homeowners are eligible for financial help to install energy efficiency measures. You can find out if you're eligible for help by speaking with your energy company.

Mike self-funded the installation at a cost of £1,100 for the ground floor. He could save up to £130 a year on his heating bills, according to the Energy Saving Trust. But this estimate was based on energy prices from April 2022. With energy prices increasing, the savings amount could go up. And that could lead to a quicker financial payback.

 

The impact on EPC ratings

Mike's floor insulation improved his home's Energy Efficiency Rating (EER) by three points. His home would still receive a D rating if he had an EPC survey done. But it's a step closer to the C rating target which he still has time to meet.

Plus, Mike says that there are fewer drafts and the floor feels warmer underfoot. He's now looking at other ways to improve the energy efficiency of his home with the help of Snugg.

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