Cardboard Boxes and Attic Insulation
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Energy saving tips: Will filling my attic with boxes help to insulate my house and cut my energy bills?
My youngest child went off to university last year and I've finally got around to clearing out our attic and giving lots of things away to charity.
This means the attic is now partially empty and I've been told if I fill the remaining space it should provide some insulation for my house.
If I use cardboard boxes to fill the attic space, will this provide enough insulation to keep my house warmer and in turn reduce my energy bills? Or is this an urban myth that won't actually make any difference?
Rebecca Rutt, of This is Money, replies: As the weather gets colder, we have seen an increase in the number of readers getting in contact to ask for tips and advice on lowering their heating bills.
Insulating your house is one way to retain heat in your property because it means less heat is allowed to escape and therefore less needs to be produced by your boiler.
As your house will stay warmer for longer, you won't need to have the heating on for as long and therefore this will lower your energy bills.
However, the amount you can save depends on the type of insulation you use. There are several different ways to insulate your house, with the most well known being solid wall, cavity wall and loft insulation.
These work by filling an empty space, be it your loft or a side wall to your property, with insulation which then reduces the amount of heat lost.
According to the Energy Saving Trust, a quarter of a property's heat is lost through the roof if it isn't insulated so therefore investing in insulation is something you should look into to cut your bills.
In your case you are asking if filling your empty attic will have an effect on your heating bills.
In theory with less open space your boiler won't have to work as hard to warm your home, and the heat may be trapped in the boxes, which will lead to your home retaining heat for longer.
We asked two energy experts how much difference it can make to your bills.
A spokesperson for Energyhelpline replies: 'Many people say that placing boxes in the attic will create good insulation, and the reason for this is that if there are pockets of air within a type of material, such as cardboard in this case, the material may be able to provide some insulation.
'If warm air is trapped within a material, it can insulate your home and make a difference to your energy bills.
'However, as the consistency of cardboard is far different to that of the material used for loft insulation and the pockets within loft insulation are much smaller than you get in polystyrene, boxes are unlikely to effectively insulate the heat in your home.'
Aled Stephens, energy expert for the Energy Savings Trust, replies: 'Storing things in your attic is fine but it is unlikely to provide a significant amount of insulation.
'To be effective insulation needs to be of a consistent density, with no gaps that could allow heat to escape. We recommend installing at least 270mm of insulation.
'Installing 270mm of insulation in a typical gas-heated semi-detached house that doesn't currently have any loft insulation could save around £140 per year off your energy bills.
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'When it comes to insulation, if you plan to use the loft or attic for storage, you will want to lay boards over the joists. Unfortunately, if you only insulate between the joists before doing this, the insulation won't be thick enough.
'To get enough insulation you can do the following: insulate between the joists with mineral wool and then lay rigid insulation boards on top, with wooden boarding on top of that, or raise the level of the floor so you can fit enough mineral wool beneath the new floor level.
'Either way, make sure you don't squash the mineral wool when you fit the boards on top as this this will reduce its insulation value.'
Rebecca Rutt adds: 'While in theory packing your attic full of boxes sounds like it could insulate your house, in reality this won't have any impact on your bills.
Instead if you want to lower your energy bills, having proper loft insulation could save you £140 per year, which is far more than you will save by filling the loft with boxes.
If you get your loft insulated, this should last for at least 40 years, according to the EST, so therefore you will easily make up the initial costs paid for the insulation.
You should be able to insulate the loft yourself, but it's also worth speaking to your energy provider first. Previously loft insulation has been offered for free by the Big Six energy providers and while it's not available as a freebie anymore, you may be able to negotiate a discount if you ask your energy supplier.
Posted on: Feb 6, 2017 - 2:13 PM
Last modified on: Feb 6, 2017 - 2:15 PM