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Failure to insulate

We’re always looking to improve the energy efficiency of our home, and one of the final steps is to install wall insulation. Due to the lack of a cavity wall, we can either install External Wall Insulation (EWI), or insulated plasterboard. EWI has better insulating properties and is less intrusive to the interior finish. Since we have recently been renovating the internals of the home, EWI was the preferred option.

With regards to funding it, loans are available from the government run Energy Saving Trust, but wall insulation needs to be recommended on the EPC Certificate. We knew the walls have no insulation from when we’d undertaken the renovations, but had no readily visible evidence.

We spoke to an EPC Assessor from EPC Glasgow Ltd, who advised that it wouldn’t be a problem anyway, and could perform an inspect. He duly visited, quickly confirmed loft insulation, but cannot recommend wall insulation as he can’t open the walls to have a look. He does however recommend that due to the age and construction of the building that we should still apply. On the way out the door, I had to sprint after the car in the driveway to get him to come back and check the insulation that we had installed under the house. He was going to ‘assume’ that there was none – this should have flagged a warning with me.

A few discussions later with the Energy Savings Trust, we were made to understand that whilst a wall insulation recommendation would ‘normally’ be required a manual review process can also be triggered through an appeal, and a home of our construction is on some form of ‘exemption list’.

Subsequently we applied for a loan to assist with EWI. Initially it was denied, as expected with it not being a ‘recommended measure’ on the Energy Performance Certificate. We initiated an appeal, using the cover letter explaining the lack of a cavity wall, along with information regarding the windy location, the age of the building, construction methods, photos of the draft excluder blanket inside the wall, and a letter of recommendation from our preferred supplier.

As can be imagined, orchestrating all of the above whilst going through the Home Energy Scotland process was a little stressful and difficult, especially when quotes expire whilst waiting for people to review sections.

We continued to speak to a variety of people within Energy Saving Trust, all of whom were positive about the ability to obtain a loan. One commented on how he’d seen successful loans with far less ‘need’, another commented on ‘timber framed buildings are on our exception list’

During the conversations with the above people we discovered that our application ‘slipped through the cracks’ and did not get processed for 3 weeks, but not to worry as there was a good chance we’d be ok.

A day after being told of the processing delay, we received the email at 12:27 to say that it had been forwarded onto the Scottish Government for review as part of the appeals process. At 14:15 the email came through to say that it had been denied – because EWI was not a recommended measure.

So all of the above was for nowt. The EPC inspector who said we should still apply, the words of probable success from the Energy Saving Trust advisers, they are all a waste of time. The Scottish Government is not interested in helping owners of 50 year old detached houses install external wall insulation unless they are prepared to rip apart a wall and force an EPC inspector to look at it.