Insulation Potential Data: Identifying properties suitable for insulation upgrades

Nick Hay, Data Scientist, Advanced Infrastructure

With outdated and poorly insulated homes contributing to excessive energy consumption, increased carbon emissions and soaring energy bills, the need for more energy-efficient homes across the UK has become increasingly pressing in recent years.

Although the energy efficiency of British homes has been improving over the past decade, with 47% in 2022 having an EPC rating of C or above (up from 14% in 2010) much of the country’s housing stock still lacks suitable insulation.

It is estimated that there were around 7.7 million uninsulated solid wall properties at the end of December 2022 (91% of homes with solid walls), with around 805,000 insulated solid wall properties in Great Britain.

In autumn 2023 the UK government announced a £1bn scheme to drive help to those most in need of heating their homes for less through the Great British Insulation Scheme.

With an estimated 300,000 households across the country benefiting from the scheme, the question being asked by local authorities, installers, and solution providers is ‘how to identify which homes are suitable for insulation improvements?’

Access to innovative geospatial planning tools and accurate, granular building level data is now available to identify and shortlist potential properties for retrofit such as insulation in the click of a button.

In this blog, we unpack the basics of Insulation Potential Data, how it can be used to pin-point properties suitable for insulation, and the opportunities the data can bring to both the public and private sectors.

What is Insulation Potential Data?

Insulation Potential Data provides a range of retrofit opportunities at building level by assessing the current level of insulation in an individual building. This is based on the geometry, building fabric and EPC rating of the building. 

How is Insulation Potential Data Visualised?

Whilst EPC ratings can give a detailed insight into the energy efficiency at a single property level, without the correct aggregated and modelled data focusing on a regional level it is difficult to identify trends and triage the households that would most benefit from insulation retrofits and the buildings that are suitable for these installations.

Insulation Potential Data when used in the LAEP+ platform enables the data to be visualised at both a regional level to shortlist potential properties for insulation with the use of interactive geospatial maps, and also at individual building level to pinpoint and analyse properties precisely.

The image below shows how a user can visualise the Insulation Potential dataset in a given region.

By identifying properties with the lowest energy efficiency rating combined with their suitability for insulation suitability, this can be used to then shortlist potential properties to inform decarbonisation plans and energy efficiency upgrades.

What can Insulation Potential Data tell about a property?

Insulation Potential datasets either used as stand alone data or visualised in the LAEP+ platform detail individual property data including:

  • EPC rating
  • Existing insulation in cavity walls
  • Existing insulation in external walls
  • Existing Insulation in the roof
  • Existing insulation in the floor
  • Unique property reference number
  • Wall area (m)
  • Building area (Building Area (m²))   

How can Insulation Potential Data be used to reduce costs with roll out?

Accurate insulation data allows energy providers, local authorities, and contractors to target their efforts precisely. By identifying the properties with the greatest insulation potential, they can focus their resources on homes that will yield the most significant energy savings and overall cost savings to residents in a time when energy bills are at an all time high. 

Insulation potential data enables stakeholders to conduct cost-benefit analysis for each property, prioritising projects that offer the highest return on investment and ensures that resources are allocated efficiently, maximising the impact of insulation programmes.

Accurate data on insulation potential can also aid in calculating the exact amount of insulation material required for each project. This minimises waste and reduces material costs, making the process more sustainable and cost-effective.

How can Insulation Potential Data be used to accelerate deployment?

1. Streamlined Workflow: With a clear understanding of which properties need insulation improvements and where, project planning becomes more streamlined. This can lead to faster execution as fewer resources are wasted on unproductive tasks or misallocated to low-impact areas.

2. Improved Resource Allocation: Insulation potential data can help local authorities and installers to allocate the right personnel and equipment to the right locations. This ensures that projects are ran efficiently and on schedule, accelerating the overall roll out.

3. Public Engagement: Access to data on the potential benefits of insulation can also encourage homeowners to participate in energy efficiency programmes voluntarily. As they realise the long-term cost savings and comfort improvements insulation can provide, they are more likely to proactively seek insulation services, reducing the need for extensive outreach efforts.

4. Funding Allocation: Governments and energy organisations can use insulation potential data to allocate funding where it is needed most. This ensures that subsidies, grants, and incentives reach the properties that would benefit the most, encouraging homeowners to participate in insulation programs.

How can Insulation Potential Data be used to tackle fuel poverty?

Insulation Potential Data has the ability to not only identify homes most in need of better insulation but when focussed on areas or households experiencing fuel poverty, can inform targeted interventions. These targeted interventions ensure that limited resources are used where they can make the most impact, helping vulnerable households save on energy costs.

By prioritising homes most in need and implementing measures to improve insulation, communities can alleviate fuel poverty, reduce energy bills for vulnerable households, and create more comfortable and healthier living environments for all residents.

Without the right information, planners risk leaving some residents behind, spending excessively, losing revenues and wasting time on excessive physical assessments.  

Access to granular building level insulation potential data is now available and can support planners to identify the priority properties, avoid wasted effort, collaborate with key stakeholders and evidence the siting of low carbon technologies.

In summary

Despite progress in recent years, a significant portion of the UK's housing stock still lacks proper energy efficient upgrades to tackle fuel poverty and rising Co2 emissions. By utilising Insulation Potential Data at both regional and individual building level, planners can make informed decisions, allowing for precise targeting of insulation efforts and optimising the allocation of resources. Through collaborating with stakeholders, and evidencing decarbonisation decisions, Insulation Potential Data can ultimately advance energy efficiency improvement plans in a cost-effective and efficient manner.

Where can I access Insulation Potential Data?

At Advanced Infrastructure our innovative GIS tools, datasets and APIs are making it easier for private companies, local authorities, distribution network operators and consultants to plan local energy transitions and operate using low carbon power. Insulation Potential is just one dataset in our GIS tool belt that can be combined with our cloud based net zero planning platform LAEP+ (Local Area Energy Planner Plus), or as a stand alone dataset available as an API or exportable file format.

Published on :
November 14, 2023
Nick Hay, Data Scientist, Advanced Infrastructure

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Nick Hay
Nick Hay