Home insulation will help keep your house warm during the cold winter months by preventing unnecessary heat loss – and there are a number of different locations in your home where heat loss can be prevented.

Heating oil prices fell in 2023 after two years of increases, however there is no guarantee that they won’t rise again in the near future. Because of that, homeowners should take steps to ensure their house is properly insulated, as around a third of the heat in an uninsulated home can be lost through the  walls.

Home insulation will reduce your bills while also making your home more comfortable to live in, especially in winter. Having adequate insulation will also improve the BER (energy efficiency rating) of your home, increasing its value.

best ways to insulate your home

What is the best way to insulate your home?

There are a number of ways of insulating your home to help to prevent heat loss, including wall, attic and floor insulation. The best method of insulating your home will depend on your own unique circumstances, and what insulation your home already has. Most homes built in the past 20 years should already be insulated. 

But for many people, their insulation is inadequate, and heat loss through the walls, floorboards and attic might be costing them hundreds per year on heating bills. First, let’s look at the different types of home insulation that you can avail of in more detail.

Why Wall Insulation is so Important

Up to 30% of the heat in your home can be lost through the walls, and insulation can make your home more comfortable, warmer, and save money on heating bills. 

Older homes, such as those constructed 90 years ago or more, have solid walls, meaning insulation cannot be placed within them to keep homes warm and must be placed on the outside or inside the wall. 

Homes built in the past 50 years or so typically have cavity walls, which basically means that they have a hollow centre where insulating materials can be placed.

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Insulation for Solid Walls

Solid wall insulation will typically cost more than cavity wall insulation, however the savings can be even greater. Because there is no cavity, or gap, in the wall, insulation for solid walls must be placed outside (external) or inside (internal).

External Wall Insulation

External wall insulation is the most popular way of insulating homes which were built before the 1930s with solid walls. This type of insulation is applied to the exterior of the wall instead of inside. A number of materials can be used for external wall insulation, but expanded polystyrene (EPS) is most commonly used. Phenolic boards or mineral wool can also be used for external wall insulation.

  • Can improve the overall look of your home
  • Much less disruptive than internal wall insulation
  • More expensive than internal wall insulation, but savings can be higher
  • Can be made from materials such as expanded polystyrene boards, wood fibre and mineral wool slabs
  • May increase weather protection depending on finish applied
external insulation

Internal Wall Insulation

Solid walls can be insulated by fitting rigid insulation boards to the inside of the wall, or by building a stud wall filled in with insulation material. Insulation boards are usually made from one of several forms of foamed plastic, while stud walls work are attached to the wall and filled in with mineral wool fibre.

  • Cheaper than external wall insulation but less common
  • Could be the only option for solid walls if external insulation is not possible
  • Reduces the floor area of as 100mm+ is added to each wall where it is applied
  • Must be carefully planned to prevent condensation damp issues
  • Causes disruption as it requires skirting boards, door frames and external fittings to be removed and reapplied

Insulation for Cavity Walls

Insulating cavity walls offers significant savings on heating costs, making homes more energy efficient and comfortable. Cavity wall insulation differs to solid walls in that cavity walls have an inner leaf and outer leaf – meaning they have a hollow or cavity which allows for insulating materials to be placed within the wall itself as opposed to the inside or outside. Homes built from the 1980s onwards are likely to have cavity walls.

Cavity walls are commonly insulated with blown mineral fibre insulation, such as fibreglass insulation, polystyrene beads and sometimes spray foam.

  • Cavity walls have a hollow inside which allows for insulation to be inserted into the wall
  • Involves pumping insulation into the cavity, which prevents heat escaping
  • Homes built with cavity walls in the past 20 years or so are probably already insulated

How are cavity walls insulated?

In short, cavity walls are insulated by specialist installers who drill holes in the wall before injecting the insulating material through the holes and then covering the holes with cement.

Home insulation companies will send someone out to your home to drill small holes of around 22 millimetres, at intervals of around 1 metre on the outside wall of your home. The next step is to pump insulation into the cavity using special equipment before filling in the holes so that they are barely noticeable.

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Best Attic Insulation in Ireland

Advantages

  • Easy and quick installation process
  • Keeps heat within the home
  • Saves money on heating bills

The three main types of attic insulation are rolled attic insulation, pumped cellulose and spray foam insulation. There are considerable differences between these distinct methods on insulating an attic space, including how effective they are at preventing heat loss.

Attic Insulation in Ireland

Rolled Fibreglass Attic Insulation

Fibreglass insulation is quick and easy to install, because it just has to be rolled out on the attic floor. Installers will protect their eyes with safety goggles and wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth, as its fibres can be an irritant.

Pumped Cellulose Attic Insulation

Cellulose attic insulation is made from recycled paper. Good manufacturers add borate or ammonium sulfate to their cellulose for a little more protection against fire. The installation process involves protecting electric cables and water tanks, however there can be quite a bit of dust.

Spray Foam Attic Insulation

Spray foam insulation is sprayed onto stiff foam boards. The spray foam insulation is typically made with polyurethane, polystyrene, or polyisocyanurate. These materials create both an airtight layer and completely protects the house from the cold.

Floor insulation in Ireland

Advantages

  • Save between €100 and €165 per year
  • Reduces draughts
  • Makes your home more comfortable

The best type of floor insulation for your home will depend on the type of flooring that you have. Only the ground floor typically needs to be insulated, and it could cost €5,500 to have the work carried out. 

Many homes have a ground floor made of solid concrete, which can be insulated if it needs to be replaced. Solid concrete can also have rigid insulation laid on top.

Older homes are more likely to have suspended timber floors, which can be uprooted to have mineral wool insulation inserted.

floor insulation

What are the best materials for home insulation?

A number of different materials can be used for home insulation. The three most common types of insulation used for homes in Ireland are fibreglass, cellulose and spray foam. The type of insulation material that is best suited to you will depend on your home, the method of insulation that you require and how much you want to spend. 

Availing of a free quote is the most effective way of ensuring you choose the best home insulation method for you.

Insulation Materials

Home Insulation Grants in Ireland

Grants are available from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland for wall and attic insulation. The grant amount will depend on the type of insulation that you wish to install and the size of your house. For instance, the grant you’ll receive if you have a detached house is significantly more than if you wish to insulate an apartment.

Home Insulation Grants

Better Energy Homes Scheme Grant Amounts

Attic Insulation Grants
All Apartment – €800
Mid-terrace house – €1,200
Semi-detached or end of terrace house – €1,300
Detached house – €1,500
Cavity Wall Insulation Grants
All Apartments – €700
Mid-terrace house – €800
Semi-detached or end of terrace house – €1,200
Detached house – €1,700
Internal Wall Dry Lining Grants
All Apartments – €1,500
Mid-terrace house – €2,000
Semi-detached or end of terrace house – €3,500
Detached house – €4,500
External Wall Insulation Grants
All Apartments – €3,000
Mid-terrace house – €3,500
Semi-detached or end of terrace house – €6,000
Detached house – €8,000

All homeowners whose homes were built and occupied before 2011 can apply for the home insulation grant from the SEAI. Funding is only be issued once per property for each type of works. Any properties which has previously availed of wall insulation through any government scheme therefore won’t qualify for further support for insulation works.

The Main Benefits of Home Insulation

  • Saves money on your heating bills
  • Makes your house more comfortable
  • Could increase the overall look of your home (with external wall insulation)
  • Increases the BER of your home
  • Can increase the value of your house
  • Reduces your carbon footprint
  • SEAI grants lower the upfront costs associated with home insulation

Home Insulation FAQs

If the size of the bricks is the same across your brickwork, you have cavity walls. Properties built from the 1980s onwards tend to have cavity walls, while houses built before the 1930s typically have solid walls. Houses built between the 1930s and 1980s are more likely to have cavity walls.

Properties built within the past 20 years are likely to be adequately insulated already.

Cavity wall insulation typically costs between €410 and €750 in Ireland, but the overall cost will depend on the size of your home.

Cavity wall insulation can have a lifetime of 20 to 25 years if it is properly installed.

Both are effective, but most people opt for external wall insulation. This type of insulation minimises disruption and can improve the overall appearance of your home.

Floor insulation can cost €30 per square metre in Ireland, and the overall cost will depend on the area that needs to be insulated.

One way of telling is to do a ‘heel drop’ test – simply jump on the ground floor and see if you can hear any reverberation of the furniture or give to the floor. If you can, you probably have a suspended timber floor, and if not, then it’s likely to be concrete.

Attic insulation can cost between €1,000 and €1,600, but it depends on how many square metres your attic is. As a rule of thumb, spray foam attic insulation costs around €25 to €80.

Insulation FAQ

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