What to prioritise in our new (old) house?(11 Posts)
We're buying a house (Victorian semi) and are keen to ensure that it is as energy efficient and environmentally friendly as our somewhat limited budget will allow. The house has a very good Energy Performance Certificate report which says that it only needs a few tweaks to reach its full energy efficiency potential. However, I'm wondering whether we should be sceptical, as the boiler is a combi, not a condensing boiler, not all appliances are A rated (which the EPC does recommend replacing, and we will as we're moving ours in), and there is only partial double glazing. I was hoping the EPC might give us some guidance about what to do first to make the house as energy efficient as poss. As it doesn't can anyone out there help, please? The boiler is a Worcester Bosch combi and the radiators have thermostats. I think we can afford to do loft insulation and double glazing (wood sash, we hope), but should we replace the boiler, or are there also other things we should look at that we haven't yet considered? Or can we really take the EPC at face value? First time I've come across them, seem a good idea in principle...
I would definitely start with the loft insulation. Look at the windows and decide which ones let the cold in most (the ones on the side of the prevailing wind, and on the north side, usually) and focus on making those as draught proof as possible.
If you can double glaze them great, if not you can also have heavy curtains, and try to make sure you open/close them in such a way to optimise heat retention.
I always sigh a little bit about boilers, as I have the supposedly most eco-friendly all singing-all dancing condensing boiler and it works so badly I spend a fortune on heating water (and have written off the boiler for heating and use wood burning stoves instead). So I would say if it's working well, don't mess with it!
On the subject of wood stoves, if there is any kind of possibility of putting one in I would highly recommend it....wonderful and eco friendly way of heating a house. I would definitely privilege spending money on one of those over a new boiler in a first instance.
Of course you could go the whole hog and make it a wood stove with a boiler component, but then you are starting to talk some serious money.
The energy saving trust website has some useful suggestions of what you can do to improve your house, ranging from the cheap and feasible (loft insulation, turning down heating where possible, A rated appliances etc) to the pretty unrealistic - creating cavity walls to insulate which probably causes more trouble than it solves , ground source heat pumps etc.
Many thanks, both of you! These are terrific suggestions. We'd love to go with a wood burning stove but - at the risk of sounding terribly precious - our neighbour's stove seems to bring on my asthma, and I had the same problem in a holiday cottage. GP diagnosed allergy to wood dust, to add to the animal allergies. I seem to be genetically environmentally unfriendly, so your other tips will definitely help to balance things out!
We have a Victorian house which needed everything doing to it when we moved in! Loft insulation and wall cavity insulation made so,so much difference.
We had to have some exterior clay peg tiles rehung - which gave us the opportunity to shove some rock wool in the gap in the walls. I'm not sure how easy this is to do otherwise.
We live in an old cottage which is FREEZING and only partially double glazed, we put really heavy lined curtains in the lounge but the room has 5 windows in it which are all single glazed so it gets really cold in there and now Izzy is with us I think it's time that we (mummy and daddy) bit the bullet and get double glazing put in there as it's made a huge difference to upstairs (it was only half double glazed when we moved in). We've had quotes from everest (high), a local supplier which my sister has used so I'm going to see how she found them and I've been recommended to look at checkatrade for recommendations? It's such a minefield. The only thing that I'd say is there seems to be very little difference in the energy efficiency between a 'C' rated and 'A' rated window, I think it's more of a marketing ploy, if you google it the actual cost savings between the two are minimal but the purchasing cost of a 'C' rated window is much less.
You may be able to get your loft insulated for free. Where I live, everone qualifies for this service. Check with the local council.
EPCs need a very large pinch of salt, as they are a simple computer model and take no account of individual houses. They will always talk about cavity wall insulation, for instance - even if the house has lots of solid walls!
decent double glazing and loft insulation are good. Thermostatic radiator valves have a limited life, the EPC will only say that they are there. That said, they are not too pricey to replace.
think about which way the house faces (does it get sun?) The EPC ignores that - a place in a dark hollow will get the same rating as one that gets sun.
(Rant mode off...)
Don't double glaze if you have original windows, You'll never recoup the energy saving and they spoil the look of an old house.Also UPVC doesn't last all that long either.
I have to agree with Special about EPC's.
I have a wood burner without a back boiler and it gives off a lot of heat, a "kind" heat,and somewhere to cosy up to.
Agree about limitations of EPC. Man came round to do ours as we are selling our house and he told us the front wooden door with gap that let's in the wind and the back upvc double glazed newly fitted door both just count as doors! Also they've written in the report that there is no insulation in the ceiling of one room because there is no access to check so they've reccommended people take down the newly plastered ceiling to put insulation in- eveb though we insulated it when we moved in, but he says whatever they can't see for themselves they just make assumptions based on the age of the house.
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