Cavity Wall Insulation: House of Commons debate

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In a debate on cavity wall insulation in the House of Commons on 17 March Chris Elmore, Labour MP for Ogmore called on the Government to establish a “new, independent body to oversee cavity wall insulation claims”.

He noted that when installed incorrectly or in inappropriate properties, the resultant damp can cause higher energy bills or significant health issues for residents. 

He continued that “Effective safeguards are therefore vital in such areas to ensure that any retrofitting work does not make the problems of homeowners and renters worse rather than better”. 

This comes on the back of a large amount of claims following the incorrect specification or poor installation of cavity wall insulation. IMA has long advocated that whilst ensuring that as many properties as possible are upgraded so that the fabric is as energy efficient as it can be, it is essential that properties are properly surveyed to ensure that not only is appropriate material installed but that it is installed correctly.

During the debate, Matt Western, Labour MP for Warwick and Leamington proposed that the Building Research Establishment undertake a survey of all affected properties to “understand the scale of the problem and obtain redress for the owners”.

Chris Elmore also added that the Cavity Insulation Guarantee Agency (CIGA) appears to provide consumer protection, “in name only,”. He added that the Agency was, “under-resourced and not fit for purpose”.  CIGA often seem to get away with extracting material from one wall only or doing a “top up”, which is where some of the cavity’s voids are filled in. Those options are cheap and a route to disaster for the homeowner,” he continued.

There needs to be a move away from using the cheapest products available when upgrading the energy of efficiency of homes.  Often a very effective solution such as an injected PUR system is overlooked on cost grounds even though it has the capability of upgrading so-called “hard to treat homes”.

The Minister for Business, Energy and Clean Growth, Kwasi Kwarteng, responded by pointing to the Government’s new design and installation standards, which form part of the main domestic energy efficiency Policy.  He continued by acknowledging that nevertheless standards and consumer protection could improve, adding that the Government was implementing the recommendations of the independent Each Home Counts review.

All properties must be properly surveyed and the insulation must meet the needs of the property, physically to meet energy performance standards and taking into account the local conditions.  Once this information is established, the installation must be carried out by an approved installer with an insurance backed warranty.  Only then will householders be assured that they are getting what they set out to achieve; warmer, more comfortable and healthier homes. 

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