Monday, September 15, 2008

Sheep insulation

Winter Sheep I by Diane Pedersen
Winter Sheep I

Loft Insulating Materials

Mineral fibre or fibreglass matting is usually available in rolls 400mm (16in) wide. Thicknesses range from 100mm (4 in) to 200mm (8 in). In the UK, the total thickness of insulation should be at least 200mm (8in), the thinner insulation material available allow for old, thinner loft insulation to be overlaid to achieve the 200mm. Roll insulation can usually be installed without professional help.

Loose-fill loft insulation materials which are blown into the loft are usually mineral wool or cellulose fibres, installation is a specialist job which should be left to a contractor. The materials generally have the same insulation value as rolls of loft insulation and should have a minimum finished thickness of 200mm (8in) - most roof joists are only 100 to 150mm (4 to 6 in) so some means of increasing the depth of joist may be necessary.

Loose-fill loft insulation materials, such as vermiculite and mineral fibre, are sold in bags and can be poured between the joists to the recommended depth. They are easier to install than the matting if there are awkward corners or obstructions in the loft space. They also make the job easier if the joist spacings are irregular or not suitable for a standard width of matting. Again, the depth of the joists may need to be increased so that the required depth of cover is achieved.

All of the above are man made and use toxic substances which means that handling them and breathing their fumes in can be harmful. Is there an alternative?

I am quite prolific at spinning and knitting the wonderful fleeces that sheep provide us with. Here in the West Country, Jacobs sheep can be found roaming on the hillside and I absolutely love their fleeces. To keep warm I have made socks, hats, mittens, scarves and blankets for next to nothing money wise as the fleeces can be obtained on freecycle.

Thanks to Christa's comment my memory got activated about a company called second nature that produces loft insulation from sheep's fleeces. The benefit is that it is not only safe to handle and breathe around this material, but it can be cut, torn and stuffed into small unusual places.

So maybe the loft hatches do not need to be changed.No grants for this material but I am going to be a lot happier having non toxic materials in my loft.

Sometimes the obvious is the simplest answer: How otherwise can sheep withstand very cold icy temperature?


MrsL said...

I've wondered about DIY insulation, but should think it "wouldn't be allowed" - possible fire hazard? Don't know. I have loads of fleeces here at the moment, all given free, but I'm having a job keeping up with spinning them all.
Nice to read your blog, my first vist, will be back to catch up.


Anonymous said...

glad I could trigger your memory!
we are hoping to install a wood burning stove this winter ~ it all helps to keep cosy.