Christine Tongue: Insulation – going the extra mile(s)

Climate activists Photo jacoblund

I’ve been insulated! And I didn’t have glue myself to the M25 or hang perilously from  a bridge for days.

But the people who did, in JUST STOP OIL and INSULATE BRITAIN must have made enough fuss about climate change that our sluggish political systems finally ground into action.

Unfortunately they didn’t specify how that insulating should be done, or who it should be done by.

More than a year ago someone told me that the council had a scheme to help us impoverished oldies save on energy costs.

It seemed a bit arbitrary – a friend got solar panels, we got loft insulation.

It was free so I’m sorry if what follows seems like looking a gift horse in the mouth.

I got a call from company in Wolverhampton (where I was born as it happens so I know its not dead local!) Can they send a surveyor? A lovely girl with my accent climbed all the house, took photos and tutted over our thin loft insulation and our three single glazed windows,

They could help!

Months later, in the June heatwave some nice lads rang from Leeds to make an appointment to insulate our loft. Three hours driving from Yorkshire to do two houses in Thanet? But they did it, drank tea, cleared up and cleared off.  Lovely, thanks!

A few weeks later, another call – we’re coming to install ventilation. I’ve got some, thanks, in my bathroom and my kitchen is so small it has no door.

Undaunted, two delightful chaps turned up from Leicester, at 8am so they could get away to another job in Kent, in Deptford, not exactly next door, and get home that night so they didn’t have to stay overnight in London.

So much driving, I exclaimed, just for two jobs!

It’s OK, we get good expenses, they said.

So up they went to the loft to install a huge fan in my landing ceiling. The leader had the longest legs I’ve ever seen. And the shortest shorts…. Sorry – it seemed rude to take pictures

Turns out he’s a body builder, won trophies and everything. His helper, “my labourer”, was a scaled down carbon copy and was supposed to clear up the horrible mess on my landing of white plaster dust. I had to show him how to use a dust pan. Unfortunately dropping it all on my front path wasn’t his best idea.

He had to put ventilators on my double glazed windows. I couldn’t imagine what that involved until next morning when I found a seagull chick trying to eat a piece of insulation that had been chopped out of one of my window frames. The lad had chucked it in the back garden.

They left in such a rush to get to Deptford before lunch that  the lad left his jacket behind. So they may be back.

So that was that, I thought. But no! Another call  – we want to do a ventilation check, it’ll only take an hour and a half. It’s OK we’ve got that fan thing put in. No, this is checking where air coming into your house.

So another nice lad turns up – this time wearing clothes, but also from miles away, Ipswich!

He seals the house. We lurk in the garden and watch him fit what looks like a jet engine on our back door as he pulls air through the house. We score 16 (an airtight house is zero, but who wants to live in an airtight house unless you’re in outer space?) and we have a nice chat about how awful the government is and how weird this insulation initiative is.

But it got weirder. Mr Long Legs had taken pictures and apparently our new insulation wasn’t deep enough and was wrinkled.

So the original blokes from Leeds had to come back to lay more stuff in the loft. Not a wasted journey as they also had a job in Herne Bay.

While they were here, the organising company phoned me to do a feedback survey. I grumbled about the plaster mess and the number of people involved in a tiny  bit of insulation but I felt we were just on a tickbox routine so I gave up.

I worked out more than 1,600 miles in round trips was involved in making my house a bit warmer.

Two doors away from my house lives a brilliant electrician.  He put in the ventilator in my bathroom, knows my house really well as his is the same, and doesn’t live in Leeds!

Who comes up with these schemes? Someone’s getting lots of public money to make useful tradespeople spend hours on the roads going to puzzled pensioners who would have preferred the guy round the corner.

And the chaps from the North could have insulated most of Bradford by now.



  1. I know of nothing in this world or indeed the universe that doesn’t change over time absolutely nothing. The moon has moved and the sun as moved over the years so why are we all so surprised
    and obsessed that the climate has changed. It matters not what humans do we will never stop anything from changing.

  2. Not quite Bill.We are experiencing temperatures not seen in 100,000 Years.Perhaps you have not noticed but the weather is becoming a bit wilder each year.Now I could suggest to you that the scientific consensus is that climate change is happening.christine is going to benefit as would we all, from living in a well insulated home.This will cut her energy bills, so why fight against the trend?
    Better insulation,better building standards,solar and wind power will deliver lower energy bills,so even if you are a climate change denier,Bill,it matters not, everyone else does,and we will all be better off not being in thrall to the energy companies.

  3. This is such a missed opportunity to have local people trained in insulation. Watching a documentary on heat pumps and was shocked how few engineers are trained up. This could have been a green Revolution, training up thousands of people to fit pumps, insulation and solar but alas we’re stuck with a government that is reactive and still funded by fossil fuel companies. We’ve given up energy independence and being a world leader in these industries.

  4. I worked for British Gas for 15 years and this woman obviously does not have a clue how the industry works otherwise she would not be spouting off the way she has done in this article. Does she know nothing about contracts and procurement.

  5. And Sparky I worked for 35 years doing budgets, operating schedules and cost reconciliations for large projects and don’t need to be in the insulation business to know that it makes absolutely no financial sense whatsoever to have staff from companies travelling such long distances to do work in Thanet. Of course the companies doing the work are delighted as it’s all income for them, but at the end of the day if the government is paying them for the work be done, then it is we, the taxpayers, who are ultimately footing the bill.

    • Maybe Christine could have a look at the paperwork and see where the funding came from. But no matter where it comes from the process hardly seems efficient and cost effective.

    • I understand that so many industries do not work smart but the big firms with the most money can deliver the cheapest prices and that is the way it works, unfortunately carbon footprint does not factor into it.

  6. Lets be honest if the UK sank tomorrow it would hardly make a dent in the global CO2 emissions.

    The UK’s 346 million tonnes per year is a drop in the ocean compared to the figures for China, India the US to name a few, they are in the billions.

    A million seconds is 12 days.
    A billion seconds is 31 years.

    Those that choose to believe they are making a difference in the UK to the world wide “climate” are commendable, if not a little naive.

    If only their efforts where put into something that could actually make a difference, like finding out which Conservative “old boy” got the contract for the insulating 🙂

  7. Got insulation and solar panels for nothing plus ventilation strips in the windows, sounds like the same teams, they were all friendly and I’m sure it’s saving me money.

  8. We have family and property in Norway, I can tell you without a shadow of doubt that heat pumps are very inefficient and there are not enough engineers to repair them to waiting 2/3/4 months. It’s not unusual for the parts, many households use other forms of eating electric on wood burners.To keep warm in the winter Norwegian houses are the best insulated homes in the world.

  9. The Norwegians have forests where wood for wood burners is made available to the public.Norway has hydro,gas fields oil fields.and large areas of forest with low population densities.The UK especially England does not.We do have Europe’s largest wind resources and tidal power resources,and down here pretty good solar resources,which are becoming evermore efficient.
    Wood burning is not an option for many urban areas because it too causes pollution.
    Good insulation and larger radiators do work well with heat pumps.
    I don’t know why Bill takes these dismissive positions about climate change and energy efficiency because it saves money and keeps us warm in winter and cool in summer.
    The pink Checksfield says there were no thermometers 1000000 years ago but there are ice core samples that can be measured and dendrochronology or measuring tree rings of bog oaks etc,gives a picture of the climate at the time.Science has other means to verify t he climate in each millennium.
    I know that change is not easy but this one makes economic sense even if you disagree about climate change.

  10. I’ve undergone two bouts of this Government scheme and it’s a hornets nest of horrors. As always the public are paying a high price for a completely incomprehensible scheme in necessary pursuit of net zero.

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