Sdružení EPS ČR, the Czech National Association for Expanded Polystyrene (EPS), has just published the results of a survey (June 2023) highlighting the devastating impact of poor insulation of the buildings on the population’s health and safety. Conducted with the IPSOS online data collection tool Instant Research, the study showed that one in five Czechs is not satisfied with their thermal insulation and that 30% experience mould and dampness – problems which could be solved with high-quality insulation.
Poor insulation leads to overheating in winter… and in summer!
With global warming already impacting climate, the insulation quality is becoming more and more of a concern for the population, as well as for the European institutions: saving CO₂ emissions and reaching the European Climate Change goals will involve the renovation of the building stock and in consequence of the insulation. This is precisely what shows the study of the National Association EPS ČR: the living space of 1/3rd of the respondents is overheated in summer and the low temperatures of winter, associated with bad thermal insulation, lead to excessive heating to achieve comfortable inside temperatures (1/4th of the respondents). Energy loss also results in a financial burden for households as well as health risks in the form of mould growth due to excessive humidity, experienced by 30% of the Czechs. Thermal bridges – places in the building structure where heat escapes more than the rest of the building – are also a concern for 1 in 10 of the Czechs.
The last study conducted by the Czech EPS Association was published in 2017. If we are seeing some progress (1/3rd of the Czechs lived in insulated houses 6 years ago, there are only 30% now), the pace of insulation of the domestic building stock is extremely slow.
Thermal insulation is hampered by financial constraints
The increase in the energy bill has caused a third of the respondents to consider improving their home thermal insulation. They were only a fourth in the 2017 study. Pavel Zemene, President of the Czech EPS Association explains: “The upward trend shows that people are becoming aware not only of the importance of insulation itself but also of the current record return on this investment. With current energy prices, the payback is typically around 10 years, often less. For comparison, in 2013, the return on investment without subsidies was around 20 years, and with subsidies it was around 15 years”.
The study shows that around 18% of people would like to insulate their houses but are not doing it because they cannot afford it. In the Czech Republic, a series of financial measures such as the “Nová zelená úsporám” (New green savings) is designed to help finance new insulation and other economic housing solutions. Another example is Italy with the “Superbonus”, introduced in 2020, which led to a renovation wave. “If we consider the high energy prices with inflation on the one hand and the permanent savings that home insulation supported by up to 50% subsidies from the New Green Savings programme will bring on the other hand, investing in home insulation is one of the most advantageous forms of savings appreciation on the market,” concludes Pavel Zemene.
One thing is certain: better insulation to improve the energy efficiency of buildings to save CO₂ emissions and fight climate change will be necessary, and affordable and efficient solutions such as EPS insulation materials will truly make the difference in reaching the ambitious European goals.