Housing Insulation

Non-Technical Option | Generic Example

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Insulation as a policy measure to reduce heat loss and save on energy costs is receiving increased attention over recent times. By improving the insulation of buildings (i.e. domestic and commercial), energy costs are reduced through reduced energy demand, and emissions associated with the provision of energy are ultimately similarly impacted. Insulation here may refer to roof insulation, wall insulation, as well as insulating windows and doors.


In an effort to encourage greater insulation within households and other buildings various national bodies have devised a set of subsidies in the form of grants for improvements in insulation. Typically the financial amount of these grants will vary depending on the type of insulation required. These grants are usually only available on dwellings built before a specified date (i.e. retrofitted), while newly built houses are generally completed with improved insulation.

In the absence of subsidies, rising energy costs would be expected to motivate a greater shift towards well insulated properties as the cost of heating a building is often one of the largest components of a domestic or professional commercial energy bill.  


It is expected that through the implementation of this measure, individuals might be willing to pay a higher cost up front (albeit subsidised by the grant) in order to insulate their homes, thereby making greater savings in the long run in terms of reduced energy use and costs.

Costs & Benefits

  • Implementation costs of retrofitting existing buildings with new insulation (grant component); further costs borne by user to meet full cost of retrofit (individual component)
  • Reduced energy use and costs in the long term; reduced emissions

Evidence & Reference

  • Verbeeck, G. and Hens, H. (2005) Energy savings in retrofitted dwellings: economically viable?, Energy and Buildings, Vol. 37, pp. 747-754

This paper addresses the potential of retrofitting insulation measures on existing houses.

  • Leahy, E. and Lyons, S. (2009) Energy use and appliance ownership in Ireland, ESRI Working Paper Series, No. 277, February 2009

This paper examines domestic energy use and appliance ownership in Ireland. Regression analyses on a large micro-dataset reveal how household characteristics can help explain the ownership of energy using appliances.

  • Lloyd, C.R., Callau, M.F., Bishop, T., and Smith, I.J. (2008) The efficacy of an energy efficient upgrade program in New Zealand, Energy and Buildings, Vol. 40, pp. 1228-1239

 This paper details the physical effects of a government sponsored, residential energy efficiency upgrade program in New Zealand.

  • Van der Veken, J., Peeters, L., Helsen, L., Hens, H., and D’Haeseleer, W. (2006) Economy, energy and ecology based comparison of heating systems in dwellings, Proceedings of the Third International Building Physics conference, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada, 2006

This paper presents the results of a simulation study in which different heat production systems are installed in a model of a terraced house. Micro Combined Heat and Power units, regular high efficiency boilers, condensing boilers and water to water heat pumps are considered.  

  •  Van der Veken, J., Peeters, L., Helsen, L., Hens, H. & D’Haeseleer, W. (2006) The performance of different heating systems in residential buildings with varying insulation quality, Proceedings of the Fourth Biennial Building Performance Simulation Conference e-Sim2006, Toronto, Canada, 2006

Simulation results for different combinations of heat production and heat emission systems are given in this paper for three insulation levels of a residential building.









Modelling this Measure

Modelling the effect of this measure can be achieved by conducting an ex post – ex ante analysis whereby behaviour is assessed, in terms of energy use and savings made, before and after the implementation of insulation measures. For more on modelling this measures see the literature in the evidence and reference section above for a number of worked examples. Ultimately the major impact will be on the energy scenario, which can be adapted to account for lower energy use due to improved insulation.

Site Entry Created by Policy Measures Admin on May 09, 2010
Edited by J A Kelly

Reference This Source

Policymeasures.com (2019). Housing Insulation. Available:
www.policymeasures.com/measures/detail/housing-insulation Last accessed: 19th February 2019

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