United House


Faster, better, cost-effective: low mess wall insulation for hard-to-treat properties

WHISCERS™ (Whole House In-Situ Carbon and Energy Reduction Solution) is a revolutionary process for Internal Wall Insulation (IWI) of hard-to-treat social housing that uses laser technology for the first time, enabling residents to continue to live in their homes throughout the refurbishment works.

The patented process was unveiled at an award-winning low-carbon retrofit of a three-storey council owned Victorian terraced house in Bertram Street, Camden in November 2010. The eco measures installed in the home, including IWI, have greatly improved energy efficiency and reduced fuel bills by nearly £600 a year. Carbon emissions have been cut by 77%.

The latest project to benefit from WHISCERS™ is at Dorking in Surrey, where 104 flats in two tower blocks have been retrofitted with the tenants remaining in situ. The project finished six weeks ahead of schedule and tenants will benefit from reduced fuel bills to the tune of £445 per annum.

WHISCERS™ uses laser scanning to measure the dimensions of a room, off-site insulation board cutting and rapid installation to complete the process. As it is a low mess process that is faster and less disruptive than traditional IWI methods, residents can continue to live in their homes, saving housing providers thousands of pounds in relocation costs.

The process

The innovative process is the result of a partnership between United House and the Sustainable Energy Academy. It was developed as a volume solution for retrofitting older and hard-to-treat social housing stock on a nationwide scale to address the duel challenges of reducing carbon emissions in existing stock and fuel poverty for residents, whilst at the same time making homes warmer and more energy efficient.

There are seven million of these homes in the UK - two million in London alone. Up to 40% of the heat loss in these homes passes through the external walls and in most cases, due to planning restrictions, IWI is the only realistic option.

WHISCERS™ is faster, better and more cost-effective than traditional insulating methods. With low mess, little noise and minimal disruption, as well as being able to insulate a room in 90 minutes with residents remaining at home, WHISCERS™ is an ideal way of retrofitting hard-to-treat properties.

How it works

WHISCERS™ is a three part process:

  1. A 3D laser scanner measures the internal dimensions of a room. The digital data is then downloaded to an off-site cutting machine.
  2. The machine cuts the insulation boards with great accuracy. Software optimises the cut to minimise wastage.
  3. The boards are delivered to site as a kit and are then fitted to the walls with the minimum of noise, mess and disruption.

The benefits

WHISCERS™ provides many benefits over traditional IWI methods:

  • Developed with residents in mind: it is a speedy process that minimises mess and disruption in the home, so residents can get on with their lives with the minimum of inconvenience.
  • Accuracy of measurement: laser scanning provides far greater accuracy of measurement.
  • Speed of measurement: the dimensions of a typical wall can be collated in 10 minutes, as opposed to 30 minutes by traditional methods, so a typical three bedroom house can be surveyed in 60 to 90 minutes.
  • Automated, off-site cutting using a CNC cutting machine: little mess in the home, greater accuracy and lower material costs than hand-cutting. Less material waste.
  • Faster Installation: boards arrive on site and can generally be fitted in 90 minutes per room or less, with lower labour costs.
  • Residents can remain at home: Less disruption, no relocation costs, minimum noise, mess and faster process.

WHISCERS™ is a win, win solution for housing providers and residents for transforming hard-to-treat properties into easy-to-heat homes.

In 2011 WHISCERS™ won Inside Housing magazine's Innovation Award and the Energy Institute's Innovation Award in recognition of the contribution that the process offers to the energy efficiency of solid walled homes in the UK.

In November 2012, WHISCERS™ won the 'Building Fabric of the Year' category at the Retro Expo Awards. The judges commented: "The system demonstrated great process innovation with high potential impact".

In June 2013 WHISCERS™ received the Ashden UK Gold Award 2013 - the most prestigious sustainable energy award in the UK - from Sir Jonathon Porritt, co-founder of Forum for the Future, at a ceremony at The Royal Geographical Society in London. 

WHISCERS™ is protected by patent and United House is the sole UK licensee. 

Click here to view our WHISCERS™ brochure.

Bertram Street low-carbon retrofit case study.

Linden Lea and Wenlock Edge low-carbon retrofit case study.