16 ways to make an old home more energy efficient
With the winter months upon us we want to make our homes as energy efficient as they can be. So here are a few tips to help you along the way.
Do you want to cut down your energy bills? Old, uninsulated solid-wall homes with outdated, inefficient appliances and fittings can be a drain on your bank account. However, it is possible to carry out some simple improvements to make your home warmer and reduce bills.
You need to be careful on what course of action you take when making any changes to an old home especially if it is a listed property. It is important you get professional advice when tackling areas such as heating and insulation, and only work with companies that have experience of dealing with older properties. If possible you may want to repair rather than replace where you can, to try keep the house as original as you can and to hopefully save you some money too.
GET A SMART METER
You can see how your house performs by getting a smart meter installed, generally utility companies will install these for free, and then this will give you the opportunity to see where savings need to be made.
FILL GAPS BETWEEN FLOORBOARDS
Old floorboards in a room can look beautiful and add real character however so much heat can be lost through the gaps. Two ways you can help stop some of this loss is by finding a discreet insulation/sealant strips (such as StopGap) to fit between the boards, or a large rug can help.
SWAP TO LED LIGHTING
Swapping your old light fittings and installing good quality LED bulbs can instantly reduce how much electricity you are using. The initial outlay to install LED’s throughout your house will eventually be paid back by the savings you make, Eg. 10 x 50 watt halogen spotlights switched on for just 1 hour roughly costs 9p the equivalent in LED will come to 0.72 of a pence, in addition the lifespan of a respectable make of LED far outlasts filament, halogen, and CFL’s.
CHECK THE HEATING SYSTEM
You should get your boiler serviced annually to ensure it is working as well as it can do. However if it is over 10 yrs old it is definitely worth thinking of replacing it. Having a more efficient model installed can save you hundreds over the year. You may also want to check whether your radiators are working effectively sometimes they need bleeding or flushing out to remove built up sludge.
DRAUGHT-PROOF DOORS AND WINDOWS
If you have narrow gaps around your windows and doors consider using some draught strips, these are handy as they can be easily removed in the future unlike silicone sealant. If you have sash windows you are best seeking out a specialist company who can add discreet draught-proofing instead.
INSULATE THE LOFT
A lot of a home’s heat is lost through the roof so it’s imperative that to save money on your energy bills so ensure the loft is fully insulated. People generally use mineral wool it is very cost effective at around £20 per roll, and fire resistant as well as insulating sound too.it is very cost-effective.
INVEST IN RENEWABLE ENERGY
Looking towards renewable energy sources could be key, such as solar and wind. However, while renewables can give considerable savings on your bills, they can also have a negative impact on your home’s appearance, so make sure you have all the facts before investing.
INSTALL AN ENERGY-EFFICIENT STOVE
Unlike open fires, which lose most of their heat straight up the chimney, whereas wood-burning stoves are sealed to the room, meaning they use less fuel and radiate the heat throughout the room.
FIT SECONDARY GLAZING
Old windows can be replaced for modern double glazed designs however if you don’t want to lose the character of your windows or don’t have the option to change them then looking at fitting some secondary glazing instead would be best.
High-quality aluminium systems can be colour-matched to the windows, while magnetic systems can be lifted out in the summer. Secondary glazing also cuts down on road noise, and the panels are usually very discreet and can be opened when needed.
ADD SMART HEATING CONTROLS
Thermostatic radiator valves and smart thermostats offer control over individual heating zones, to prevent heat from being wasted.
BLOCK THE CHIMNEY
If your chimney is no longer in use then it makes sense to block it rather than letting it vent valuable heat out. However if you do still use your chimney you can easily solve this by inserting a device that blocks the draught, such as a chimney sheep. Made of a thick layer of felt, it can be inserted up the chimney when the fireplace isn’t in use and simply removed when you want to light a fire.
INSULATE THE WALLS
Again uninsulated walls are another big loss of heat in a home so they should be addressed quickly. Homes built before 1920 had solid walls, as opposed to including a cavity that can be filled with insulation. They can be insulated either internally or externally – but both solutions involve covering the existing wall finish, which can mean the loss of period features. For internal walls, rigid insulation boards can be applied, or a stud wall constructed and filled with soft insulation. Plaster is then applied over the top. This inevitably affects existing skirting and cornicing. To insulate external walls, a layer of insulation is applied and covered with lime render or other cladding. This can totally change the look of a house and affect elements such as overhangs, windowsills and door openings, so is not suitable for the beautiful façades of many period homes.
Insulating floors is just as important as insulating the roof space and walls. There are two types of floor: solid or suspended timber. Solid floors are in direct contact with the ground, so without lifting them it is difficult to add insulation, but topping them with breathable, natural carpets, such as coir, will help. If the original floor has previously been replaced with concrete and includes a damp-proof membrane, then laying a floating wood floor on top can improve thermal performance.
If there are damp problems with a concrete floor, consider replacing it with limecrete, made of breathable lime and aggregate. Suspended floors are straightforward to insulate where there is access from below, such as a cellar. Quilt-type insulation can be fitted between the joists, supported with netting. Insulating from above involves lifting floorboards, so think twice if the floor is of historical value. If you do disturb the boards, lift a small number at a time. A variety of soft insulating materials can be used, supported by nets, or rigid materials can rest on timber battens.
REFLECT HEAT FROM RADIATORS
Fit enhancers behind your radiators to reflect heat back into the room. This prevents heat loss through the walls.
ADD A CURTAIN LINING
Thermally lining your curtains can reduce heat loss by up to 14 per cent. It will cost from around £20 per curtain.
IMPROVE INSULATION TO SLOPING CEILINGS
If your first floor (or second floor in a three-storey house) rooms have a sloping part, this is often because plasterboard has been fitted to allow cold air to circulate above and ventilate the rafters. This can lead to phenomenal heat loss if not insulated properly, so fit insulation boards and re-plaster.