Old houses in Britain are leaking. Old stock tends to mean ‘economically inefficient’, and October’s increases in gas and electricity rates brings energy performance and insulation back into focus as a way to keep our homes warm and save money. But where can the majority of customers begin to control their rising bills?
What is the issue?
More than half of the UK's housing stock was constructed before 1965, making it the oldest and least energy-efficient in all of Europe. 20% of those were built prior to 1919. As a result, many homes lack adequate insulation, and owners spend more on energy than necessary, which could be avoided if certain steps are taken to prevent heat loss.
Last week, Will Hodson, who started the switching website - Look After My Bills, began a campaign to draw attention to the need for insulation at a time when changing service providers is insufficient to protect customers from escalating rates. According to him, the UK needs to insulate its almost 15 million houses' lofts and hollow walls.
Historical buildings are our cultural heritage and provide charm and character to the UK. However, renovation and modernisation needs to become standard practice to improve efficiencies. In previous posts, we covered rising energy bills, yet the current state of affairs highlights how savings from investments in energy efficiency have never been more effective.
Start examining your home’s EPC (energy performance certificates) rating, which provides an indication of how energy-efficient a building is in regard to flooring, lighting, roofing, walls, and plumbing. This will suggest the actions required to increase the property's efficiency, such as external walls and draught-proofing.
Let’s do some maths here: around 25% of the heat produced by your boiler will escape through the roof of your home.
Around 35% of the heat will escape through the walls and through gaps, in and around windows and doors, and about 10% of the heat will disappear through the floor. Collectively the roof, walls (+ windows and doors) and the floor are known as the thermal envelope.
Start from the loft
Many people will start by installing loft insulation because it is usually inexpensive and easy to install. According to the Energy Saving Trust (EST), uninsulated homes can lose up to 25% of their heat via their roofs.
Depending on whether it is a terraced, detached, or bungalow, the cost to install 270mm of insulation in a property without any may range between £455 and £640, according to the organisation.
By inserting rolls of mineral wool material between the loft joists, you may save money by doing it yourself. According to the trust, the savings range from £330 to £590 annually, so the repair quickly pays for itself.
Protect the walls
A third of the heat in uninsulated dwellings is thought to escape through walls. In order to determine how their home can be insulated, a homeowner must first determine the type of wall that exists.
Insulation materials, such as mineral wool and polystyrene beads, are pumped into cavity walls through holes that are bored and subsequently sealed. The EST estimates the price to be between £580 for a mid-terrace property and £1,800 for a detached house, and it must be done by a professional. Savings range from £690 for a mansion to £235 for a small cottage.
Warm your feet :)
Different types of underfoot floors exist. When floorboards need to be changed, they are often built of solid concrete in contemporary homes and can be insulated. To avoid changing door apertures owing to a change in floor height, insulation panels or boards with a thin thickness are employed. According to the Centre for Sustainable Energy, the prices start at around £1,000 and can result in annual savings of up to £70.
Timber flooring that is suspended - more common in older homes. Mineral wool insulation may be inserted between the joists by lifting them. The EST estimates that the price will range from £1,600 to £2,900. Savings per season ranged from £60 to £155.