18 Oct Eco retrofitting your period home in North London
Are you one of around 20 million homeowners in Britain with an older property built before 1919? If so, it can be hard to even contemplate taking on a retro fit to make your property more energy- and cost-efficient.
In fact, most people would simply consider draughty hallways and higher utility bills as part and parcel of owning an older home. But it doesn’t have to be that way and making your home more environmentally friendly does not have to be an unattainable aspiration – it might be simpler than you’d imagine.
The main thing to keep in mind while you read this is that your home is different by the very nature of its age and, because of the way it was built, its energy efficiency upgrade needs to be handled differently from that of a modern property.
While the best ways to make newer homes more energy efficient may be through adding insulation and double glazing, not only might these changes negatively impact the aesthetic and uniqueness of your older house, they are likely to cause damage by increasing moisture retention and could potentially harm the fabric of the building. Your home needs a different approach.
Good building maintenance
Much of the energy waste we observe in older buildings is down to poor or overdue maintenance and how the building deals with heat and moisture.
With this in mind, the best place to start is with an assessment of the basics.
1. Deal with drafts.
Are your window frames cracked or poorly fitted, does your letterbox flap in the wind or your floorboards let through a draft? Draft excluders and repairs can deal with many of these issues, which not only allow cold air into your home necessitating higher heating demands but will also let warmth escape.
2. Rainwater ingress.
Assessing the efficiency of the drainage system is also a must – if drains and gutters are damaged or blocked you risk water ingress (damp getting into your home from the outside). To minimise this risk, you need to clear out drains and gutters and make sure all downpipes are properly fitted to reduce the amount of rainwater that runs down the outside face of brick or block work.
It’s not all about insulation
Insulation is a big issue with older properties – once you’ve got the basics covered it’s time to head for the roof where around 25% of heat is lost in many older properties. Insulation can be added relatively simply to improve heat retention. You can take this further by adding insulation to pipes. All of these actions make your home more energy efficient, which of course will have a knock-on effect on your electricity bills and, while there might be an initial outlay, you should hope to see a saving in the long term.
However, it may be tempting to take the issue of insulation too far by blocking up air bricks and add double glazing. Don’t, as this will just negatively impact on the look of your older property and create condensation – older properties require a certain amount of air circulation to remove moisture or you’ll find it running down your windows, or in really bad situations, your walls.
Efficiency through control
It’s also important to assess how you heat your home – chances are this will not be the same as the way in which it was heated when it was built. Programmable thermostats can help you to heat your home more efficiently and flexibly, with timers to ensure that you’re not heating rooms when they aren’t in use or the entire house while you’re out.
If you would like advice on how to eco retrofit your period home or would be interested in a quote for the works, call us on 0203 021 2140 or email us. We’re always happy to help.