With the recent launch of the government’s 25-year environment plan, the rising awareness of climate change and the plan to gradually switch to electric cars, 2018 has been kickstarted with the hot topic of energy efficiency. Here at EWI Store, energy efficiency is something that we deal with on a daily basis. So, let’s look into the crystal ball to see what 2018 might bring for the popularity of external wall insulation?

Will new Landlord EPC Regulation bring about more external wall insulation installs in 2018?

If you hadn’t heard of it, the new legislation basically dictates that from the 1st of April 2018, both private domestic and commercial rental properties will need to have an energy performance rating of E.

If you are newly renting out a property or renewing/extending a rental contract after April 2018, then the rental property must have an energy performance certificate of E. For all other landlords with existing tenancies, then the energy efficiency rating will need to be at E by the 1st of April 2020 (for domestic properties only). Any landlord in breach of this will face a penalty fine of up to £4,000. There are however some exceptions to the rule, so more information about the new legislation can be found here.

Many landlords can up their energy efficiency rating with just a few tweaks to their properties, such as draught-proofing, pipework insulation or hot water cylinder insulation. However, others may need to consider more extreme measures.  External wall insulation could be an option for landlords because it will dramatically improve your EPC rating. EWI will also save you/your tenant hundreds on energy bills every year and improve the external appearance of your property, which overall increases how appealing your property might be to potential tenants.

Since the new legislation, we have had a lot of phone calls from both worried and motivated landlords showing an interest in EWI. The good news is that depending upon the weather, EWI can only take two weeks to install so if you’re in a panic about running out of time to get your EPC rating up before April, then EWI could work.

So how is this all going to be enforced? The downside is that local authorities are going to be in charge of enforcing these regulations. If you are suspected to be noncompliant with the regulations when basically you should be, then your local council can request from you more information about your property and the EPC rating/measures you have taken to ensure you are compliant with the regulations, and if you are found to be within breach you will be fined.

However, there are doubts about whether local councils will actually have the time and the money to invest in ensuring that this is upheld. The question is which departments will this workload be put onto will be responsible for this?

 Fire risks of Cladding and External Wall Insulation in 2018

This is a very exciting time for taking a step towards environmental awareness, however tragic events in our recent past have definitely altered the public opinion towards retrofitting and cladding. The Grenfell Tower disaster has impacted the public and governmental awareness of fire safety and hazards associated with cladding. Going forward in 2018, we suspect that there will understandably be a huge amount of public confusion as to which external wall materials present a fire safety risk, and the performance of cladding when exposed to fire has therefore become a key concern for homeowners who are considering EWI.

When it comes to the Grenfell tower tragedy, the cladding installed onto Grenfell Tower was called Rainscreen cladding, or ventilated cavity cladding, and was installed as a means of waterproofing with an inner layer that also offered some thermal insulation. The plastic core of the first waterproof layer of the cladding was suspected of being flammable and therefore allegedly provoked the spread of fire, whilst the air cavity between the two layers of the cladding (waterproof layer and thermal insulation layer) further fuelled the fire (according to current reporting).

External wall insulation is fitted onto a property tightly to the wall (it’s basically glued on) with no cavities in between the materials on a standard masonry property (main property type in the UK). Therefore, there is very little risk of large-scale air circulation in between the materials, which would contribute to a fire. It is also made up of fire-resistant, non-combustible insulation boards such as Rockwool in some systems. If used with the EPS (expanded polystyrene), the EPS – like the Rockwool – is encased with a plaster-based adhesive both on the internal and the external sides of the boards, mitigating the risk of surface fire spread.

External wall insulation materials are manufactured and tested according to rigorous building regulations and standards. If you are using BBA (British Board of Agrément) approved products, and they are installed with the correct system specifications, then fire risk of these systems should be at a minimum.

We wanted to highlight these risks to potential end users and/or the improvers (e.g. landlords, funders, etc), and once they are understood, we have seen that this shouldn’t wane the appetite for EWI improvements to properties. The industry will wait on any updates, and will apply the suggested practices that come out as a result.

The Green Deal funding in 2018, may lead to a surge in EWI installations

As of 2017, the government are soft-launching the previously unsuccessful Green Deal scheme again. What this means is that people can get grants for home improvements which would improve the energy efficiency of their homes. A nice summary of the Green Deal 2017, was written by TheGreenAge. Click here for more details.

But what this means is that there may be a window of opportunity for homeowners to get low interest finance for energy saving improvements such as external wall insulation. The basics of how the funding works is that you can get your property assessed by an approved Green Deal Provider, and for any recommendations on home improvements that they give you then you can get funding for the installation of them (note: there are several ways that you can choose to pay for the work).

Say, for example, you were recommended a new boiler. You would then be able to set up a finance plan and re-pay the borrowing with the approximate money you are saving on energy. The money is repaid by being charged to your electricity bills.

The downside to this is that the approved Green Deal adviser would have to recommend that you require something like external wall insulation (EWI), so properties with solid walls may be more likely to get the funding for it.

So, if the Green Deal scheme has been improved since the last time, then the opportunity for people to get EWI could be greater – which is fantastic for improving levels of energy consumption in homes.

Our thoughts on 2018, External Wall Insulation Growth

Despite the negative headlines for the industry in 2017, there is a lot to be optimistic about in 2018. Here at EWI Store, we have spoken to some very enthusiastic installers and customers about what they want to do with External Wall Insulation in 2018. We are finding that many people are really worried about the potential rises in energy bill prices, and with EWI being such a great measure for reducing heating consumption, it makes it the perfect thing to do keep a check on some of your energy bills.

Alternatively, we expect many people not to be motivated by incentives over energy consumption, and future energy prices, but are motivated by the aesthetic improvements that can be achieved of installing a rendered or a decorative finish.

If you are looking for a local installer who can provide you with competitive quotes for external wall insulation, then do give us a shout as we can point you in the right direction!