Issues around cavity wall insulation have been raised for years, particularly around companies installing it to owners of unsuitable homes. Last year parliament debated the issues and noted key concerns but have things changed since the problems were raised to better protect homeowners?
Cavity wall insulation can help save homeowners money, by ensuring that less heat escapes, cutting down energy and heating bills. It’s estimated that the cost of installing the insulation could repay itself on the savings made on bills alone in as little as nine months. Cavity wall insulation has been one of the governments key policies to reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions.
While evidence does suggest that cavity wall insulations does have some benefits, it isn’t suitable for all buildings. For example, homes regularly exposed to wind-driven rain are not suitable as it can lead to the insulation becoming damp. As well as being unsuitable other issues can arise, such as voids in the cavity, companies wrongly installing the insulation and deterioration of the materials used.
In February 2015 cavity wall insulations were debated in parliament. During the debate it was noted that in 2011 Which? asked eight companies to assess a house that was clearly unsuitable for cavity wall insulation. Despite this, all of the surveys conducted by the companies involved recommended installing cavity wall insulation. The debate also noted that while a routine independent inspection of the properties after work has taken place is required by Ofgem, it takes place only a few weeks after installation when problems are likely to occur more than a year after the work has been completed. The inspection also checks whether energy reductions targets are being met, not whether there are damp problems.
Concerns were also raised that the Department of Energy and Climate Change was somewhat sweeping the issue under the rug for fears that acknowledging the problems would discredit a key energy conservation policy. Despite this, news of cavity wall insulation having problems is still discrediting the policy and suggestions have been made that all retorofitted cavity wall insulations could encounter problems further down the line.
While Parliament recognising the problem was welcomed news it hasn’t translated into action yet. This means that homeowners still risk being affected by problems in the industry if they don’t have the survey and work completed by a company offering the standard of service expected and could mean that that the insulation need to be removed further down the line.