New solid wall retrofit system slashing home heating bills

Before and after Matilda's Blanket

A new solution for retrofitting solid walled homes is making a significant impact in trials in the affordable housing sector with some residents reporting heating bills being nearly halved.

Matilda’s Blanket is an internal wall insulation system with a difference: instead of being attached to the wall using battens, it involves securing what is effectively a ‘floating wall’ in front of the existing wall. The patented system relies on rails on the floor, ceiling and side walls together with vertical and horizontal compression of the new wall panels to keep the internal wall securely in position. The company says its approach minimises problems with cold bridging and produces a robust and effective solution that can be installed while residents remain in their home.

The system is being put through trials with around 30 housing providers, which have carried out around 300 installations in all. Although monitoring to gather full evidence of performance has not yet been completed, anecdotal reports from residents are indicating that the system is reducing heating bills by 30-50%.

In Acton, west London the system has been applied by Allen Construction Consultancy to two council-owned sheltered housing blocks that had been proving hard to let. Parul Shah, voids and disrepair manager at Ealing council, said of one elderly resident whose home was upgraded, “He was used to wearing six layers of clothing inside the house, but now he’s warm all the time and much happier as a result.” As a result of the effectiveness of its trial, Ealing council is planning to install the system in a further 50 homes.

Key features of the system include:

  • A self-adhesive vapour membrane, which is applied to the existing wall surface
  • A plug and play system for electrics
  • Pre-cut factory-made wall panels with pre-installed electrics, comprising a six-part lamination. The internal finish of British Gypsum Rigidur H means the wall requires no plastering and can be simply redecorated. It is possible to hang cupboards, etc, on the wall
  • Panel joints are sealed using an adhesive.
  • The whole wall installation has a depth of 81mm and a home elevation can typically be installed in a day
  • The company works with an installer network of around 50 corporates and several hundred individuals who are trained in surveying and installation.

The system, which is manufactured by Port Talbot based eco-enterprise Matilda’s Planet, is already on Wales’ ARBED strategic energy performance investment programme for home retrofit, and the company is now looking to tap into the Scottish market, where the Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing (EESSH) and a new national infrastructure priority for energy efficiency are driving action on existing homes.

Matilda’s Planet managing director Sean McLaughlin says that the company also sees a potential market for its system in the private housing sector: “We think we’ve a strong message to take to consumers and are starting to carry out consumer installations”.

Matilda’s Planet will be exhibiting at Housing 2015, the Chartered Institute of Housing annual conference and exhibition, which takes place in Manchester from 23-25 June.

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