Can you make physical changes to "old "house to make it warm e.g add another layer of bricks, insulate etc(41 Posts)
Is it possible to make an old house warm? We live in a biggish house - old boiler and massive gas bils (depsite the fact I am so tight with the heating). I think there are 16 radiators in house. When heating up it feels like a sauna but he minute the heating is off the house gets cold. There is no happy medium. As for the keep it on low all day brigade well we already pay £3,000 on what I do (max 6-8 hours a day) a ridiculous amount of money and I jest not it would be over £5,000 if I did this.
Half of our house is modern (so bit warmer) half of the house is 1920s. It feels like a garage even with the heating on. It is freezing. The walls are cold. There is no cavity wall so there is nothing to fill/insulate. Can anything be done? I think I read somewhere that you could board the inside of the room but don't see how this works when you have windows and then have these set in v thick walls?
Anyone else had/solved this issue? Thanks v much.
You buy chimney balloons online and yes dead easy to fit yourself and make a huge difference.
We've recently switched to a biomass boiler because we couldn't afford to heat it with gas. Although we now have a smallish mortgage to pay for the installation, our fuel costs have gone right down. Hopefully we'll be able to get renewable heat incentive payments as well.
One thing that we also did is put in double glazing throughout, insulate under the floating main room floors (there was actual wind coming through it before we did that), and last year we took down all the sloping ceilings in our bedrooms and had the roof space insulated to above modern building regs. All this has made a difference.
We've also found that if the house is damp it feels colder. Running a dehumidifier might help a lot in making your hose feel warmer at the same temperature and it costs less to run than heating- might be worth a try. We use it in the back kitchen to dry the washing in the winter. It's worth its weight in gold I reckon.
Great blog, Gabilein. I take issue with you though - I live in the coldest house in Oxford.
Oooh, Gabilein, may I just offer you the technical term for what happens to your olive oil?
Isn't that a wonderful word (even if the phenomenon in your house is shocking!)?
Green Deal has been mentioned a couple of times - as part of this the energy companies are obliged to subsidise the cost of expensive measures such as external or internal wall insulation, regardless of income. I don't know the specific details but you can call the energy saving advice service for advice on this (think it's 0300 123 1234 but you might want to google it!)
Slight word of warning on the Green Deal though - it's basically a type of loan that is paid off through a charge on your electricity bill. In theory you shouldn't pay any more a month than you did before (as you should now be using less energy so I should all balance out) but as a loan the rates aren't that competitive - about 7% I think.
the green colour of the cylinder will be the factory-applied coating of rigid plastic insulating foam. Poke it with a thumbnail and it will leave a mark. Green means it might be about ten years old, and while not as efficient as the latest blue ones, or a white one, is OK. It will have large copper pipes going into near the bottom and near the middle, these will be very hot while the boiler is heating the cylinder, so should be insulated with foam lagging such as Climaflex or an own-brand alternative, as thick as will fit, on the pipes around the cylinder and around the boiler. This is a cheap and easy DIY job if you have a breadknife.
The Mexico 2 I can't find, there area lot of Ideal Mexico models, ranging in efficiency from about 70% to about 80%, it is a non-condensing boiler and I will guess has a cast iron heat exchanger and will be simple and not much to go wrong. A modern condensing boiler would be about 90% efficient so could save you between a seventh and an eighth of your gas usage. This alone would not cover the cost of change, but will be a benefit when your old boiler dies.
It is likely that with this old boiler, even if it is running well, by this time there will be a lot of sludge and scale in the system. For example, you might find cold patches at the bottom or the middle of some radiators, and the boiler may bang when hot, or make a noise like a singing kettle coming to the boil. It can be cleaned out in various ways, of varying cost. Cleaning it out will improve the efficiency and economy, as well as giving greater heat from the sludgy radiators, but I can't quantify that.
If your TRVs are equally old, they may be sticking or failed, so that they no longer maintain rooms at the desired temperature, so reducing comfort or economy. It is fairly easy and cheap to change them if you are fond of DIY plumbing, but will be fairly costly if you have to pay someone. It is best done in the summer when heating is no longer required.
Your house will be warmer and feel more comfortable if you carpet those wooden ground floors. If you have access underneath them you can insulate between the joists. This is laborous and dirty unless the floors are being lifted for some other reason, for example they are chipboard and are being put on the bonfire.
Some people will tell you that you need to change to a Combi boiler, this is not correct. Modern condensing boilers are available as Combi, heat-only, or conventional, and you are free to use a HW cylinder of various kinds.
If you block up the ventilation holes in the room with the fireplace, I am sure you will forget to unblock them if and when you or a future person lights the fire again. A local chimney sweep can advise best on how to handle the chimney to prevent draughts, and what ventilation is required. He will also know if you can DIY, and he will know who are the local tradesmen who will make a good job of it.
I live in the coldest house in Oxford. Even my olive oil gets cloudy. I am now doing external and internal insulation. Plus double glazed windows, plus plus.
Also I am writing a blog about it. makemyhousewarm.blogspot.co.uk/
right sorry this has taken some time the boiler is Mexico 2 (snigger at me gurssing at "Aztec"). The water cylinder is a lime green? it does not seem to be insulated it is just a metal thing and no idea what the "hot pipes" are. How will insulating the hot water cylinder help the heating? (sorry if this question is dense).
Can I fit that chimey balloon thing myself and if do where do I get one?
Can I bung up any ventilation holes - these are nowhere near the fireplace (about 12 foot away in the outside walls each end of a 25 foot room?)
take the wooden covers off the radiators!
carpet will make a huge difference
change boiler, and put thermostats on every radiator
get a control panel for the heating that puts it on different temperatures during day/evening
Either use the inglenook, (with wood burner) or get a proper chimney balloon that seals it off (this alone will make a massive difference)
Some ideas here, energy saving trust
Couldn't you get a new boiler fitted through the green deal? Btw way looking for recommendations of green deal assessors if anyone can help.
I would seriously think about some form of wood or solid fuel stove in the inglenook. Not only will it heat the room but if you keep it ticking over the residual heat in the chimney will create a low level background warmth. Even better if the chimney is in the middle of the house.
the banging and kettling can (usually) be dealt with by a chemical clean at modest cost, or other less modest work. You will actually have to have the system comprehensively cleaned and a filter fitted before the new boiler goes in, to prevent it getting clogged with the existing load of sludge and sediment in the pipes and radiators.
Too late for you now, though.
In my case the new boiler and associated work knocked about 30% off my gas bill, but cost over £3k so was not justified until the boiler old became irrepairable.
We have a potterton profile boiler. Engineers give us the ' they don't make them like that anymore' speech too.
Well, I bloody well hope not 'cos we are planning to change this spring and if the next boiler wakes up the whole house with its banging and kettling every time it comes on, I may actually go insane.
Also, I am very much looking forward to a reduction in my gas bills as well as a full nights sleep thank you so very much!
Sorry for hijack op.
We had similar problems when we moved into our very old house..
2 things which have made a difference
A wood burning stove- amazing, would never be without one, we leave the doors open and it heats half the house.
Changed the boiler. We only did this last year and wish we'd done it much sooner. We have used about a third less gas than we did in the winter before. When we had it fitted we also had a "flush" thingy done
technical term to the rads. They now get warmer much more quickly and we have the rads on number 3/4 rather than the 6 we used to have them on.
Insulating the loft doesn't help with heat loss through the walls but a great deal of our heat loss was through the roof - this is why the loft insulation made such a massive difference. Stopping this has actually made the walls feel warmer simply because the house is warmer.
We have thermostatic valves on all our radiators as well - this regulates the temperature in each room as necessary and avoids some getting v hot (DS' with one outside wall) vs some not hot enough (kitchen, 3 outside walls). The thermostat in the hall stays at 21deg.
In terms of the boiler, ours was old and condemned and its position in the kitchen was no longer to modern regulations. The effect of moving it to the bathroom is that the radiators are more efficient, plus it heats by itself the top of the stairs which is where our highest ceiling is.
We didn't block our vents in the rooms where the fireplaces are and also kept ventilation holes in the fireplace covers to allow air to circulate. You could do something as simple as a piece of timber over the fireplace, painted in a design or colour to suit.
Have you thought about installing wood burner for winter? They're meant to throw out so much heat, but I guess you need to find source of reasonably priced seasoned wood...
thermostat in the hall was quite normal 50 years ago, but not now.
I agree a combi would not suit you.
A megaflo is a different sort of hot water cylinder, but not relevant to your heating problem today
The ventilation is probably for the open fire. If you block up the fireplace (except for a ventilation hole) it will reduce draughts.
I have a big, old single skin house - we thermoboarded some of our walls and it made a huge difference - you do have to move sockets and window frames so it isn't cheap. We didn't do every wall but concentrated on those with the biggest external surface area IYSWIM. This wasn't a DIY for us though as its quite a big job - used a builder and very pleased with the results!
so you just has one wall done?
We were in similar-ish position, asked builder for suggestions. He (as suggested upthread) thought insulated plasterboard best bet, fixed to batons on original wall. Windowsill replace with deeper one, so window cavity just a bit deeper than used to be, if that makes sense.
This winter we have really noticed difference - if we had been out all day, no heating, come back and living room icy cold, now just "not warm" if no heating all day. Similarly, cam down one morning in Jan (when much colder), sat and ate breakfast thinking room did not feel as if heating was on (but not icy cold). Discovered central heating had failed (low pressure, easily fixed). Point is that had we not had the insulation done, I would not have been able to tolerate sitting there and eating breakfast.
We are really glad we had it done, hoping to get other walls done this year.
can I get back to you re hot water cylinder as I am not home - I will. I think boiler has some sort of name like aztec or similar - again I can get back to you on this. We have been told combi no good as house too big (and what happens if someone wants shower and someone runs tap downstairs etc etc). There was talk about fitting a megaflow but I may be getting confused about what this does. Thermostat is in the hall.
you have given me lots to think about.
You might have a splendid old boiler such as a Potterton Profile. A new one will probably not last 20 years, especially if you change to a combi. Tell me about your hot-water cylinder.
As an old boiler cannot modulate its flame size in response to demand, you could try turning the boiler thermostat down a bit so that the radiators are less hot. This will prevent the sauna feeling.
Have a look at your room thermostat. It should be set to about 20C. Again, unless it has been fitted in a cold room or the hall, it should turn the heat off when the rooms reach their comfortable temperature, (again avoiding the sauna) and back on as soon as it drops a bit. Modern digital thermostats are far more precise than old ones. If you change it, go for a programmable stat that will give different temperatures at different times of day and different days of the week. This also improves comfort and efficiency. It is sensible to have the room stat fitted in the room that you use the most.
no idea on the ps. yes room thermostat or rather one theromstat for the house but it is a big house. Is that what you mean? have trv on some not all - some (and now this shows age) seem to have some sort of wire coil on them that is supposed to be some kind of control but I don't know how. Boiler old (20+) but whenever people come to look at it I get the they don't make them like that nowadays, why change it if it is not broken etc etc so we never have.
I have notice in one room 2 small holes in wall close close to the rads (they are in wooden rad cases) which is a draft. I think they are there in case we suffocate oursleves from the inglenook fireplace that we never light. Does anyone know if it is illegal to take them away as it is like having a mini mini window open all the time. Having said that they are not in the bedrooms above that room and those rooms are freezing too.
Thanks for all these helpful replies.
have you tried contacting green deal
they do an assessment of your energy etc and produce a report on how you can best save money on your bills.
would it be possible to insulate under the floor?
thick curtains, draught excluders at the doors, check your loft insulation levels.
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