Following the recent COP26 Climate Summit, figuring out what we can do to save the planet is now fresh in many of our minds, and having decent insulation, an efficient boiler and other green measures can also make your home more saleable. But what if you’ve got an older home? It’s not always so easy to make your home energy efficient if it is a historic or a listed building – and this could put you off buying an older place, too. But don’t let it deter you, there are things you can do to help, this week’s blog takes a look at how you can make an older home more climate-friendly.
In England, around 20% (4 million) homes were constructed before 1919. A further 20% were constructed between 1919 and 1939 – between the First and Second World Wars. These homes combined make up 40% of the total residential properties in the UK and many of them are clearly less energy efficient than modern buildings. As the energy that we use in homes accounts for approximately 14% of greenhouse gas emissions, by working to make these older homes more energy efficient, we could have a considerable impact on UK emissions on the whole.
Despite some of the potential hurdles involved, it’s not as difficult as you may think to adapt an older home to be energy efficient, whilst preserving period features.
Before you start making improvements, it’s important to ensure that your home is in a decent state of repair. There is no point in fitting an efficient boiler if the doors and windows are draughty – or sticking solar panels onto a leaky roof. If you are selling your home you will need to get a valid Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and performing an energy audit should help you to identify areas where you need to make improvements. You can also look up the EPC rating of your home on the gov.uk website.
One of the quickest, cheapest and easiest things you can do to make your home more energy efficient is draft proofing. But before you consider double glazing with uPVC windows, you should be aware of the environmental impact of uPVC (unplastised Polyvinyl Chloride). uPVC is created using fossil fuels, a non-renewable resource. Plastic production accounts for 4% of global oil production and oil comprises 43% of the raw materials used in uPVC. Sustainably sourced timber windows are better for the environment and if well-maintained will outlast uPVC alternatives. But you might not need to double glaze at all. Adding secondary glazing to a single glazed window will give the same level of efficiency as a double-glazed window, but it will retain the original exterior window and is much cheaper to fit. This is an ideal solution in historic or listed homes as secondary glazing tends to be unobtrusive and can’t even be seen from the street. Secondary glazed windows are usually comprised of sliding metal-framed windows which allow the exterior windows to be opened in the summer and function as normal without compromising on energy efficiency.
Roof insulation is another easy. cost-effective fix. Insulation should be distributed evenly in the roof space, to avoid ’cold spots’ where condensation may develop. Insulating walls should generally be avoided as it can cause issues with condensation. Insulating underfloor areas can work well if done properly but an also cause problems with ventilation, rot and damp so always seek expert advice before performing this kind of improvement.
Air or ground source heat pumps are becoming more popular ways of heating a home as the technology improves, drawing heat from the surroundings and multiplying it. But installing it may require planning permission, depending on the age and location of your property, so again, seek advice prior to installation.
Solar panels offer another great opportunity to save the planet but you will need to make sure that your home is suitable first, otherwise the benefits could be negligible. If you have outbuildings or sheds then panels could be fitted here if your main roof is shaded or unsuitable. You might also want to consider installing an electric car charging point to make your home more saleable as demand for eco-friendly vehicles increases.
If you’ve done all you can to improve your EPC rating and your older home is still rating quite high, then you can take some comfort from the fact that if your home is a few hundred years old it is probably built from locally sourced cob and stone and has stood for hundreds of years, making it incredibly energy efficient compared to a steel and concrete new build property.
Made your energy improvements and getting ready to move? Perhaps you’ve found your dream eco-home? Give us a call to see how we can help with a free, no-obligation quote? If you need to store some stuff during the sale or the move, we have secure, stone-built storage facilities right here in the centre of Bridport. We can help you to pack your things and put them straight into storage for you until you’re ready to deal with them, taking all the stress out of moving for you. Give us a call to find out more.