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Good home insulation 'worth over £600 a year off energy bills'

It is generally well understood that the more and better quality insulation a home has, the greater the savings on energy bills, as less of the heat generated to keep a property warm in winter will leave via the roof and walls. 

Just how much benefit, however, may not always be appreciated. Organisations like the energy savings Trust can offer guidance on the typical benefits this will bring in the typical home resulting from the installation of cavity wall or loft insulation, but 'typical' is now the home most people live in.

In particular, there is a stark difference between the energy efficiency of new build homes and older properties, which has been borne out  by new research from the Home Builders Federation (HBF). 

The HBF survey noted that new build homes are now so well equipped with good insulation and other energy efficient measures like modern boilers that 84.4 per cent of them meet energy performance standard A or B. This contrasts with just 2.2 per cent of existing homes. 

It means that new homes are now - thanks to better building techniques, improved design and tighter regulations - much better places to live in when it comes to keeping energy bills down. The survey found the typical older home costs £1,072 a year to power, compared with £443 for a new build - a saving for the latter of £629.

Cavity wall insulation plays a particularly big part in making new homes more energy efficient. A new build with this is six times as energy efficient as a 1960s home without it, the study found. 

Insulation is not the only factor, of course. Better heating systems, new and more efficient boilers and even the filling of the gap between the two sheets of glass in double glazing with argon to trap the heat from sunlight all help keep homes warmer for less. Smart energy systems also help, as they ensure appliances are switched off as soon as they are no longer needed. 

Speaking about the issue, HBF chair Stuart Baseley said with energy prices rising - they have soared by 36 per cent in the last decade - the sector has been working hard to make new homes cheaper to heat and will go on doing so. 

He remarked: "Today’s new homes are significantly more energy efficient than their predecessors, delivering huge benefits both for their owners and the environment. Owners are saving hundreds of pounds a year in energy bills due to the modern design of their homes and the materials used to construct them."

Mr Baseley said the "investment in innovation" being carried out by housebuilders will seek to ensure that there are "yet more savings" for owners of new build homes in the future. 

The report found that existing homes tended to lose heat not just through the walls, but even more so through floors and ceilings.

However, a study by University College London (UCL) and the University of Sheffield published last week did reveal that there are around ten million homes built in the first half of the 20th century in Britain that could benefit enormously from underfloor insulation.

These homes have a raised wooden floor above a concrete base, and filling in the gap with bead insulation could improve energy efficiency by 92 per cent. Wood fibre insulation could bring a 65 per cent improvement. 

Report co-author Dr Sofie Pelsmakers said insulating this area could realise "massive potential for cost savings in the average property".