Our investigation into cavity wall insulation companies invited eight of the biggest names in insulation into our undercover rented home – and the findings suggest that you can’t always rely on their advice.
I’d never discourage people from getting cavity wall insulation (CWI) installed in their homes – for most houses it’s a great idea and you could save about £110 a year on your energy bills.
But our investigation isn’t about whether insulation will fit in your walls, it’s about whether it might give you damp – and a large bill to get rid of it.
For some homes it’s just not suitable. We rented a house in an unsheltered location that was exposed to high levels of wind driven rain and had cracks in the rendering. The combination of all this meant our expert said the house was at increased risk of developing damp from CWI.
Our undercover findings
Posing as a customer, we asked eight companies, including some big names (such as Tesco, Npower and Marks & Spencer) to assess our ‘home’.
None of the eight assessors warned us of potential damp problems if we’d had CWI installed. One told us our house ‘wasn’t really exposed’. In fact it was on top of a hill with no shelter between it and the sea.
No assessor checked the internal walls for evidence of damp – although some asked our researcher, we think they should have checked the walls themselves. And only two bothered to measure the house fully to calculate the amount of material we needed – the rest seemed to guess by looking.
Despite one assessor stating that the price didn’t change no matter who did the work, the cheapest quote was £99 and the most expensive was £379.
One company – the Mark Group – sent assessors round to quote prices for its own company as well as Tesco, Marks & Spencer and Npower as it does the work on their behalf. The prices differed to the tune of £100 depending on which brand our researcher opted for. The price is set by the brand, but all provided the same job using the same materials, as the same company would have done the work for all the brands.
See more of our findings in our undercover video:
Industry needs to make improvements
We’ve highlighted our concerns to the companies involved and the National Insulation Association that all these companies, or their representatives, are members of.
We want them to improve training and monitoring for their assessors so that consumers are better protected from having work done on their home that potentially could have costly consequences if it’s unsuitable.
Our challenge to the big energy companies, particularly, is to put changes in place quickly so that their customers feel reassured that they can get good advice. So come on industry – make the improvements and tell us here!
And of course, if you’ve had cavity wall insulation, let us know your experiences – good or bad.