Insulation is a key to reducing energy needs.
You can save up to 45 per cent on heating and cooling with roof and ceiling insulation, according to the sustainable building design guide, Your Home.
Despite that, about four in ten Australian houses still go without. Dennis D’Arcy, CEO of the Insulation Council of Australia and New Zealand, says many homeowners don’t know what they’re missing. “People just assume houses have insulation. If you’re buying an old house, you’ve got to inspect it.”
If you’re one of those four in ten, you can now get insulated for free. The Energy Efficient Homes Package – part of the government’s anti-recessionary spending – offers up to $1600 worth of materials and professional installation for houses that have no insulation. Mr D’Arcy says the money will “more than cover costs in a very high percentage of cases”.
From July, eligible owner-occupiers will get the whole shebang by calling a government hotline. If you want it before then, get insulation professionally installed, pay upfront and receive the rebate later. Renters aren’t left out either – landlords are now eligible for up to $1000 for insulation in their rental properties.
Even if you don’t qualify for the rebate, it’s worthwhile checking your ceiling’s status – the insulation is probably gappy and underdone. Insulation’s effectiveness is measured by its ‘R-value’. For Melbourne ceilings, Your Home recommends a minimum level of R 3.7. As a rough guide, Mr D’Arcy suggests between 130 and 180 millimetres of insulation, at least.
There are many different products available: batts, foil or loose-fill, made from an array of polyester, wool, glasswool, cellulose fibres and more. For DIYers, batts are best. You can buy them from hardware stores and they’re easy to manage – choose what suits on price and recycled content.
When it comes to installation, follow the instructions on the pack, and make sure you cover all the gaps right out to the edges. If you choose loose-fill insulation, you should get it professionally installed.