Energy saving ideas for period & listed buildings
By Nick Williams
Energy efficiency is no longer a buzz word or a futuristic plan, it is something that should be in our mindset through every activity we embark upon and every purchase we make. A large step in the green direction comes from looking at the homes we live in and taking steps to make them more efficient.
There are some pretty straightforward updates you can make to a home which will noticeably improve its efficiency rating. However these updates often involve some pretty dramatic renovation work and the use of outwardly visible synthetic materials.
Period properties require a slightly more subtle approach from an external perspective. Internally energy efficiency improvements can typically be shared between period and non-period homes. The main concerns with internal updates will be aesthetically matching components and of course listed building requirements.
Because of how tricky it can be to make energy saving updated to a period property, we have decided to highlight a number of DIY projects which will ultimately reduce your carbon footprint and energy bill as well.
Install eco friendly sash windows
English heritage suggest that windows and doors account for nearly 33% of a period home's energy loss, which is why updating them should be as high up on your agenda as possible. We have all heard our fair share of double glazing and window company horror stories and seen some of the unsightly PVC installations. Instead of look for companies which specialise in either restoring existing windows or replicating them, using natural materials and 21st century technology. If you insist on adding draft proofing too you could increase the efficiency of your windows by 86%.
Add or replace roof insulation
Probably the update you can make which will have the biggest immediate impact. It can be assumed that the majority of period properties will have little or no roof insulation and as such installing some should be high if not top of your priorities. It may sound like a job for a team of builders, but in actual fact installing roof/loft insulation is achievable by even the newest DIYer (changes slightly if you have floors installed in the attic). Even if it takes you a bit longer than you hoped, the savings are well worth the effort; up to 25% off your annual energy bill.
Invest in a new period-style door
I like the rest of you love wooden front doors. However of all the materials which doors are made from, it is by far the most inefficient at trapping heat in. It is also unfortunate for your wallet that most period homes come with a wooden door as standard. As mentioned previously, doors and windows account for33% of your home's energy loss; which makes replacing your door an obvious update. An alternative comes in the form of composite doors, which are manufactured using 21st century technology but feature period design character. Like all purchases, be sure to do your research as different manufacturers offer differing efficiency ratings. You are looking for the lowest U-value rating available (around 1.0W/(m2.K).
If your home was built after 1920 it is highly likely that you will have cavity walls, in which case filling them with insulation will increase the overall energy efficiency of your property whilst not having any impact on looks. The issue with insulating the walls of older properties is that more often than not features such as brick, stone or wood will be hidden (probably not an option for most of you). Don't panic though as a recent SPAB report concluded that 79% of old walls (including timber, cob, limestone and slate) retained heat better than expected. If you do choose to insulate your walls, make sure you choose a suitable material. Older walls need to 'breathe' to function properly and a non-breathable material could cause damp problems down the line.
Top tip for all period updates – don't be afraid to ask
It's that age old question: "can anyone recommend a good reliable xxxxxx?" The answer for the majority of us is 'no', which puts you the home owner in a dangerous position of having to source the renovation company yourself. There are numerous trader review/trust sites out there which can provide a little help. Our number one suggestion is to ask someone who has already had work done. Alternatively knock on a door of someone who has had similar work done and see what they thought of the trades people used.
About the Author
Nick Williams works for Yale Composite Doors, who manufactures energy efficient, U-value compliant composite front doors. Nick writes frequently on the subjects of green building, DIY and home improvement
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