Solid-wall insulation: barriers to uptake

New CSE report evaluates real experiences of householders

16 November 2011

A newly published study by CSE attempts to add to the understanding of why people are reluctant to undertake solid-wall insulation measures in their homes.

'An evaluation of solid wall insulation in fuel poor households in the private sector' comprises of a qualitative evaluation of the experience of householders living in homes that underwent solid-wall insulation.

Dr Nick Banks was one of the authors of the report. "Whilst the technical challenges of solid wall insulation are widely acknowledged, there has been little exploration to date of the human barriers to uptake. These are likely to be substantial, given the disruption involved and the impact of measures on building appearance."

The photo below shows the kind of disruption Nick is referring to.

It's an important issue because without a significant increase in the number of 'hard-to-treat' homes insulated in this way, the UK will not meet carbon reduction targets in the domestic sector. Furthermore, solid wall insulation remains one of the best instruments for combatting fuel poverty for householders in 'hard-to-treat' homes living off the gas-grid.

The householders featured in the study were all part of Freedom From Fuel Poverty, a successful scheme that CSE designed and delivered in the Bath area.

NB The evaluation was scheduled to run for at least one full 'heating season' in order to understand the experience of householders in the scheme throughout the year. But, as in inevitably the case with building projects, the work on some properties was not completed until early 2011. Consequently, this is an 'interim' report and a full and final report will be completed in June 2012.

This interim report presents the headline findings to date with recommendations for practitioners, policy makers and others interested in the uptake of solid wall insulation systems. Findings and associated recommendations are of three general types:

  1. Comfort and coping strategies amongst low income households living in homes with very poor fabric standards
  2. The impact on comfort and lifestyle from installation of solid wall insulation 
  3. Householder experience of the installation process itself

The report was funded by eaga Charitable Trust and co-authored by Dr Nick Banks and Vicki White. Click here to download it.

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