About 10% of heat loss from an average home is through the ground floor.
If your floor isn't already insulated, this could be a good move to help you cut your energy bills.
Not sure whether you already have floor insulation, or want to install it but don't know how? Read on to find out more about floor insulation and what's the right option for your home.
Do you need to insulate your floor?
There's no point in investing in expensive floor insulation if you don't need it, or if it's unsuitable for your home, but how do you know one way or the other?
Whether you need floor insulation or not depends on your home and what kind of floors it has:
Older houses with 'suspended floors', which are in effect above a void, are likely to lose more heat through the floor.
Homes with solid (concrete) floors, built since the 1930s, have less of a problem. Concrete floor insulation can, however, be installed and usually consists in a layer of solid insulation which is placed directly on the floor.
Modern houses tend to incorporate slabs of polystyrene insulation a few inches below the concrete floor surface, effectively reducing this type of heat loss.
Whatever your home, there's still some kind of measure you can take to insulate your floor.
Four ways to insulate your floor
Draught-proofing - simply use sealant or caulking to fill the gaps between your floorboards and between skirting boards and the floor.
Add an insulating layer under your carpet or floor-covering - try a fibreboard underlay or polyfoam board. Good carpet underlay's have insulating factors. You have to be careful of the thickness. Unless you are renovating your home, the thickness of insulation can cause problems with door opening. You don't want to take up perfectly good floor coverings.
A rug - it's not going to solve all your problems, but putting a rug on top of bare floorboards will help to block some draughts and keep your toes warm.
Underfloor insulation - if you have you an access hatch that allows you to get into the crawlspace (void) below the floorboards, this is a relatively easy process, if not you will have to take up the floorboards. You will need to use netting or wooden battens to hold the glass or mineral wool style insulation in place beneath the floorboards.
Alternatively, it may be easier to use batts rather than blanket style insulation. Batts typically also have the advantage of having a slightly higher R-value - the higher the R-value, the greater the insulator's effectiveness. Sheep's wool could also be considered, due to its breathability.
What else to consider
When thinking about insulating your floors, especially if you have a traditional suspended floor, then it is important to consider leaving ample opportunity for ventilation, for example ensuring that air bricks are not blocked. If air is not allowed to circulate freely then your floor boards and joists could get damp and begin to rot. This can also apply to solid floors, ensure that air bricks above floor level are not blocked or air can be prevented from circulating through cavity walls etc.
Certain amounts of ventilation are necessary not only in the floor however the loft too. By blocking the areas of ventilation you can have other problems such as condensation issues. I have seen this in homes and along with the condensation you get black and green moulds which are extremely difficult to rid.
Before you consider floor insulation you may want to talk to an expert.