Home Insulation, SEAI Grants

U-value: what does it mean?

We are looking forward to an unprecedented focus on energy efficiency in our homes. Understanding the positive impact of well insulated, energy efficient homes and businesses will become commonplace. But how do we measure how efficient our homes and premises are?

Being proactive about energy saving measures now and improving the energy efficiency of your home will improve your household cash-flow in the long term and your “eco” credentials!

If your home was built before 2006, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), through Leitrim Warmer homes, will provide grant funding for insulation upgrades on homes throughout Sligo, Leitrim, Donegal, Cavan and Roscommon. Alternatively, if you are in receipt of certain Department of Social Protection payments, you may be entitled to free home insulation upgrades.

Understanding how to make our homes more energy efficient, what kind of insulation measures to install and what u-values actually mean has become more important than ever before. The article below gives a brief overview of what this really means in everyday life.

Heat will always flow from warmer areas to cooler areas until both areas are the same temperature. It is a cruel fact of nature.

A better insulated home will slow down the heat loss through specific areas of your house such as walls, windows and roofs. Slowing down the loss of heat will mean you will use less energy to heat your home, saving you money and making your home feel more comfortable.

The u-value refers to how well insulated different parts of your home are. You will have different u-values for your walls, windows and roofs.

The lower the u-value, the better insulated your home is. A better insulated home means that:

How will my home be warmer in winter?

Imagine a teaspoon in a hot cup of tea. If you leave the spoon in the tea, the teaspoon gets hot. The heat moves quickly between from the hot tea through the metal teaspoon. Now, what if you changed the teaspoon to a wooden teaspoon? The wooden teaspoon will remain cooler for much longer. Insulation works like the wooden teaspoon. The materials used to insulate home significantly slow down and may even almost prevent heat travelling from warm areas to cold areas. This means that when you heat your home, it will stay warmer for longer using much less fuel than a poorly insulated home.

Just like the metal spoon and the wooden spoon, the materials in your home will conduct heat at a different rate. The glass in your windows will allow a greater level of heat through them than a concrete or brick wall. This is why there are different u-values for each area of your home and why there are different minimum standards for each area, depending on the specific structure and materials used in your home.

It is important that the insulation work is conducted by qualified and verified contractors. Badly installed insulation will be less effective and may even lead to problems that negatively affect the structural integrity of your home such as mould, dampness and interstitial condensation.

How will my home be cooler during a heat wave?

We in Ireland rarely have to worry about cooling our homes. Indeed, we spend most of our time wishing for a heat wave! However, the most recent heat waves adversely affected the health of the more vulnerable members of our communities. Better insulated houses have been more comfortable during the height of the temperatures. That is because the heat from outside is slower to pass through to the cooler indoors due to the higher levels of insulation.

How will I save money?

The vast majority of homes in Ireland are heated using fossil fuels i.e. oil, gas, turf and coal. We are all too aware of the increasing cost heating fuels. Better insulation will mean that you will use less fuel to maintain a comfortable temperature therefore keeping more money in your pocket!
Reducing the level of fossil fuels is a key target to reduce carbon emissions and halt the rise in planetary temperatures. The more you can reduce your fossil fuel dependence, the more you are doing your bit to save the planet!
In May 2019, Ireland declared a climate emergency. With the increasing focus on the impact of climate change, reducing our fossil fuel dependence will greatly increase in the coming years.

What can I do about improving the insulation levels and lowering the u-value of my home?

The most common areas of heat loss in a home are the attic, the walls, the windows and the floor. The most common and easiest upgrades you can make are to your attic, walls and windows.

You can call Leitrim Warmer Homes on 071 9640771 or email us on info@leitrimwarmerhomes.ie for further information or to discuss any insulation upgrades that you are considering. We are a local, trusted, registered contractor for the SEAI. We are independently audited to ensure that our work is completed to the highest standards, which means that our customers can be assured of the quality of our work.


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