No mess, no disruption, just lower heating bills and a warmer home.

When we consider insulation we generally tend to think about loft and wall insulation, but did you know that up to a quarter of an older home’s heat is lost through its flooring? Homes with wooden floorboards are particularly affected, with homeowners compensating for draughtiness and chills by cranking up the thermostat, which means higher carbon emissions and bigger bills.

Traditionally, underfloor insulation involved moving furniture, lifting floorboards and laying mineral wool insulation supported by netting between joists. It’s a labour-intensive process that comes with a lot of expense, dust and disruption. Now, though, a smart robot from building maintenance company Q-Bot is able to take on the task with minimal fuss.

After an initial survey, the robot is deployed into the void under floorboards – no need to remove boards or shift furniture around – where it applies insulation in controlled layers, typically to an average depth of 125mm. The insulation is a polyurethane foam, which expands to fit the shape of the floorboard – it forms a hydrophobic barrier between the ground below and floor above, which means the floorboards remain warm, while moisture from the ground can escape through air vents.

Thanks to four independently-controlled drive wheels and a powerful suspension system, the robot is able to climb over obstacles such as rocks and rubble and through sand and mud, all while pulling a hose into position. There’s no mess involved, and most installations are completed within two days.

It’s a slightly pricier option than existing underfloor insulation measures. Insulating with Q-Bot will cost around £2,000 for the average home. Traditional methods cost around the £1,000 mark. However, the savings are attractive. According to Q-Bot, insulating a floor with this innovative tech could save the average gas-heated home around £110 a year in energy bills, or electrically-heated homes up to £255 a year.

According to its assessments, Q-Bot costs £550 per EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) point increase. The higher a property’s EPC score, the more energy efficient it is, so your home will be more comfortable at lower temperatures, which means you can turn the thermostat down a notch and save money and your property value will increase.

Previously, the technology was only available to housing associations. Camden Council, for example, used Q-Bot to insulate the floors of 48 properties in London, resulting in an average 32% improvement in air tightness and a 77% reduction in heat loss through their floors. Two-thirds of the programme’s residents said they saw a significant reduction in energy bills of £140-£240 per year.

But since last year Q-Bot has been available to all landlords and homeowners. Providing the floor’s void height (the space between the floor itself and the ground beneath) is at least 300mm, the tech will work for most suspended floors – check your eligibility here. You’ll need to undertake an initial survey, which costs £90, but the fee is refunded against the cost of installation. There’s no word yet on whether Q-Bot will be included in the recently-announced Green Home Grants scheme, but the company says it’s “confident” its solution will qualify for the incentives.   

It’s not the cheapest option, but Q-Bot’s tech presents a significant advance in the insulation business – it’s certainly a much less disruptive method of insulating a wooden floor than traditional techniques. Now that it’s available to the domestic market, this could be the start of a robotic revolution in home insulation!

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