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Improving homes through technology: how smart robots can save on heating bills

Q Bot insulation sprayers

Older homes with timber floors can lose a significant amount of heat through uninsulated ground floors. Our studies show that you can save around £40 a year by installing traditional under-floor insulation to help keep your home warm.

In the past, installing under-floor insulation always involved lifting the floorboards and laying mineral wool insulation supported by netting between the joists. It’s a labour-intensive process, which can involve significant disruption to your home. But recently a new development uses a small robot to spray insulation under your floor instead. Q-Bot started out working on social housing projects but the service is now on offer to individual homeowners.

Q-Bot uses robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) to install underfloor insulation. Its makers claim that Q-Bot’s installation can reduce heat loss through a house by a third and save an average of £150 on energy bills. Energy Saving Trust has not verified these figures, but it certainly provides a potentially more straightforward method of insulating under your floorboards.

How Q-Bot underfloor installation works

Q Bot robot spraying insulation under floorboards

Q-Bot uses a robot to access the void under your floorboards via a hatch or air vent to insulate beneath suspended floors. So there’s no need to take up the whole floor, furniture can stay in place and the work is much less disruptive than traditional methods. Q-Bot reports that it completes most of its installations within 1 to 2 days.

Prior to the installation, Q-Bot does an initial survey to evaluate the property, identify any risks and make sure the property is suitable. Once this is established, the robot spray-applies the insulation to the underside of the floorboards, which expands to fill all the gaps under the floor.

During the installation, the Q-Bot team continuously monitor the process to measure the thickness applied, to create a record of each installation. It uses a PU (polyurethane) foam, which presents no fire risk, smoke or toxic hazard to a property. The insulation should last for 40 years and includes a material warranty for 10 years.

The insulation forms a hydrophobic barrier between the ground below and floor above. This means that the floorboards remain warm, while moisture from the ground can escape through air vents. The Q-Bot team claim that it can also reduce damp and mould problems in the property - Energy Saving Trust has not verified this claim.  

Q-Bot’s installation meets Buildings Regulations requirements, and it has been awarded BBA accreditation for its installation process. Last July, Q-Bot passed the PAS 2030:2017 Accreditation for energy efficiency measures.

Who can use Q-Bot in their home?

Q-Bot’s solution works for most suspended floors, provided that the void height (i.e. the space between the floor itself and the ground underneath) is at least 300mm. The technology is continually being improved and later this year Q-Bot is planning to spray under floors where there is a lower void, of less than 200mm.

How much does it cost?

The initial survey costs £90, however that fee is refunded against the installation cost, if it goes ahead. The installation price varies according to the size and layout of the property. A typical 3-bedroom semi would cost around £2,000 - £2,500 to insulate.

It’s not necessarily the cheapest option, but Q-Bot’s tech presents a significant advance in the insulation arena. It’s undoubtedly a far less disruptive method of insulating a wooden floor than traditional techniques. As Q-Bot turn their attention to the domestic market, this may be the start of a robotic revolution in home insulation.

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