A lot of homeowners insulate their walls and roofs as energy efficiency measures, but not many consider how much heat is lost through their property’s floor. Despite having cavity or solid wall insulation, you still risk losing up to 20% of your home’s heating through the floor.
It is clearly a worthwhile investment to consider floor insulation, but it can cost up to £3,000 for larger homes.
Getting underfloor insulation is a non-invasive process that will help heat up your home, reduce your heating bills and make your home more energy efficient in general. As it can be costly, the Scottish government is offering underfloor insulation grants through the government’s Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme.
The aim of the ECO scheme is to help Scotland meet its international agreement of reducing the country’s carbon footprint. To achieve this, major energy companies are required to set funds aside to improve the energy efficiency of homes. Should someone be eligible for the scheme, energy-saving measures will be paid for by this fund.
Through the ECO4 scheme (which replaced the ECO3 scheme in 2022 and runs until 2026) and the Affordable Warmth Obligation (which forms a part of the ECO directive), you may be eligible to have your underfloor insulation installed free of charge, if you meet certain eligibility criteria (discussed below).
By having underfloor insulation installed under your wooden or suspended timber floor, you can reduce the heat loss of your home by up to 15%.
The free underfloor insulation grant is available to homeowners, owner-occupiers or tenants as long as they have permission from the landlord.
If you have wooden floors or suspended floors, then you stand a chance to receive completely free underfloor insulation. This is only if you meet all the other criteria too.
Once approved, qualified installers will come to your home and install your underfloor insulation. This will help your house retain heat, reducing your energy bills and resulting in a more comfortable home.
Although you can pay for underfloor insulation yourself, it can cost thousands of pounds. Under this scheme, you won’t have to repay a single pound but will enjoy all the benefits that underfloor insulation and warmer floors have to offer (which we will discuss below).
The ECO4 scheme is only available until 31 March 2026, whereafter the criteria for the grants, or the grants themselves, may change. It is better to make the most of these grants while they are currently available.
Not everyone will qualify for free floor insulation. There are certain criteria that must be met.
If your home was built during or after the 1980s, it is highly unlikely that your house will qualify. This is because homes built prior to this era had wooden floors, while more modern homes have solid concrete ground floors.
If you have a basement or your house is built on a slope (and there is a crawlspace beneath the ground floor), you may be able to apply for the grant. At a minimum, there must be one metre of headroom underneath the floor, as well as access via a hatch.
Lastly, at least two-thirds of the home’s footprint must be available for underfloor insulation installation.
If you have had underfloor insulation installed in the past, there is also the possibility that you may have it updated using modern insulation materials.
There are also criteria that must be met by the homeowner occupying the house where the underfloor insulation is required. The homeowner must be a receiver of any of the following:
If your household’s annual income is £31,000 or less, you will also qualify under the ECO4 scheme.
In addition to all this, the house must be situated in Scotland, Wales or England and must be heated by gas.
Not all homes are suitable for all types of insulation. Even if you have a home that is suitable for wall or loft insulation, underfloor insulation comes with its own set of requirements.
Properties with cellars, basements or underfloor crawlspaces are typically suitable for underfloor insulation, as long as there is about one metre of headroom under the floor.
A suspended timber floor – found in many older properties – is suitable for insulation. These floors not only lose a lot of heat but also have space available to install the insulation. These suspended timber ground floors have floorboards resting on joists above an opening.
Homes with air bricks or ventilation bricks in the exterior walls below the damp-proof membrane on the ground floor level also lose a lot of heat. These houses may qualify for free underfloor insulation.
To install the floor insulation under a suspended floor, an insulating mineral fibre is placed beneath the exposed floorboards and is secured in place with netting. This netting is attached to the joists.
Another modern alternative for floor insulation is to use spray foam. The foam expands and sticks to the underside of the wooden floors, trapping the heat in the room above.
Needless to say, if you have concrete floors it will not be possible to install floor insulation as there is no space beneath the concrete. Concrete floors are instead insulated by layering insulation on top of the floors.
Having a warm and energy-efficient home is about more than just wall insulation and double-glazed windows. Underfloor insulation plays a massive role in maintaining a comfortable temperature, but also comes with other benefits, including:
It goes without saying that underfloor insulation will help to improve the thermal efficiency of a home. Less heating will escape through the suspended timber floor. Coupled with wall and loft insulation, homes will be much more energy efficient and retain heat even in the coldest months.
Similarly, on hot days, homes will stay cooler as heat will not be able to enter freely through gaps in the flooring.
Floor insulation is incredibly easy and mess-free. As all the installation occurs underneath the floor boards, in between the joist on which the floor rests, there will be no mess on your ground floor. The installation of insulation materials will not affect household activities.
With better thermal efficiency comes the added bonus of reduced energy usage. As homes are able to retain heat better, heating systems won’t have to work as hard to maintain a consistent, comfortable temperature in the home.
Homeowners with underfloor insulation will have reduced energy bills because of less heat loss and more stable temperatures in the house.
Although less of a concern in the cooler Scottish climate, airconditioning units will also have to work less to cool down a house during summer. Less of the outside heat will be able to penetrate the floor.
If you have an older home, you may want to completely redo your timber flooring to improve thermal efficiency. If you opt for underfloor insulation instead, a total redo of your flooring is not necessary. All the insulation materials can be installed beneath the floor without having to do any major construction or renovations.
If you have existing underfloor insulation in place, the free insulation grant will also cover any insulation upgrades, such as installing modern, more effective materials.
Having insulation installed underneath your floors will ensure your house is always at a comfortable temperature. Cold, draughty floors can be very uncomfortable, especially in winter. Insulation will ensure no cold air enters through old floorboards.
Energy-efficient homes are in high demand in the real estate market. By properly insulating your home, including the floor, loft and wall, you increase the value of your property. It will be more attractive to potential buyers.
In Scotland’s climate, uninsulated floors are not only cold, but the temperatures can drop below the dew point. This means that floors will experience condensation and potential mould growth. By installing underfloor insulation, the floor surface will remain warmer, reducing the risk of condensation-related issues.
If you have a basement that is often used, insulation can help reduce the noise that travels up between the floors. This also applies to multi-storey homes where insulation can be installed between levels.
Not only will you save on the costs of upfront installation if you are eligible for an insulation grant, but in the long term, you also stand to save a lot of money. Even if you have to pay out of pocket for your home’s insulation, over time it will pay for itself thanks to the reduction in heating bills.
Living in a comfortable home with stable temperatures will positively impact the overall health and well-being of the home’s inhabitants. Cold, draughty or damp environments can result in diseases, especially in vulnerable populations who may be on income-related benefits. This is why the free underfloor insulation grant through ECO4 is so important.
There are certain building regulations that must be met when it comes to installing underfloor insulation and upgrading flooring in the UK.
The Building Standards 2017 provides guidance on how to meet certain standards in terms of insulation and flooring. These standards focus specifically on energy efficiency and the building insulation envelope.
The aim of Scotland’s Building Standards is to minimise heat loss and improve the energy efficiency of all buildings. These standards are in line with UK guidelines.
The U-value (thermal performance standard) of an upgraded floor in Scotland must not be worse than 0.18 W/m2K. In England, Wales and Northern Island, the U-value must be at least 0.25 W/m2K. From this, it is evident that Scotland takes a more stringent approach to energy efficiency.
Although professional underfloor insulation can cost anywhere between £300 and £3,000 (for large properties) to install, you can receive free underfloor insulation through ECO4. You also only have to insulate your ground floor.
By installing this insulation, you will experience significant cost savings on your annual energy bill. According to the Energy Saving Trust, you can expect to annually save, on average:
• Detached house: £65
• Bungalow: £60
• Semi-detached house: £40
• Mid-terraced house: £25
The ECO scheme also offers other grants including room in roof (loft) insulation grants, cavity wall insulation, solid wall insulation, and inefficient gas boiler replacement.
You do have the option to choose who installs your insulation. However, the installer must be trade-registered approved and authorised to carry out the work under the ECO scheme. While you can’t just get anyone to do the installation for you, you will have a limited choice.
Underfloor insulation installation is quick and mess-free. Once you qualify, you will receive a date that the installer will come to your house. Installation can be done within a few days, depending on the size of the property and the ease of access to the underfloor area.
There are emergency services available that can do the installation within a day.
To apply for free underfloor heating through the ECO4 scheme, you first need to confirm your eligibility to receive the grant.
Envirohomes Renewables makes this first step easy. All you need to do is fill out the eligibility form on their website or contact them directly on 0141 459 0292. After that, someone from the expert team will be in contact with you. Envirohomes Renewables will be your trusted partner through the whole process, from securing the funding to installing your new underfloor insulation.
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