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Eco adaptations to older houses

(52 Posts)
TobiasToad Fri 22-Sep-17 20:58:12

I've been inspired by the Super Homes website and looking at doing some improvements to improve the energy efficiency of our home. It already has an EPC 'C' rating. I'm looking at solar panels and heat pumps. Does anyone have either? Heat pumps particularly are a new one on me. The main motivation behind this is environmental, this is a 'forever' home so not in a rush to make the money back. Are there any other things anyone has had done? The house is being renovated so I'm keen to work in energy efficient changes during the planning.

savagehk Fri 22-Sep-17 21:46:45

Have a look on green building forum for advice.
It's difficult to retrofit an older house. It's also expensive. But then you know that looking at superhomes smile

We're in a retrofit project now. House doesn't support solar (loft conversion dormer window). We did vaguely consider a heat pump, but didn't have a suitable place for the heat store. The air source ones seem like a good idea.

We are busy installing loads more insulation and an MVHR. I'll let you know how we end up...

RippleEffects Fri 22-Sep-17 21:55:17

I really like the idea if a Tesla roof Tesla link its very new so i havent read reviews but i think essentially its solar tiles, that look like roof tiles and you reroof in them.

We had an airsource heat pump in our last house which was great as we were very rural. It gave a lovely gently heat through underfloor and radiators, running at a cooler temperature that conventional radiators - something to consider if changing from a gas/ oil boiler to heat pump as you need more surface area i.e. double rather than single panel radiators or just more radiators. For us it was an economic solution but not ideal when we had out rural power cuts. We had back up wood burners.

Now we're back in a house with a gas boiler I wouldn't change it. Gas is relatively cheap and so convenient. The boiler is tiny in comparisson to an airsource unit and I can call numerous people out if I have issue. The airsource neede specialists for anything and everything.

TobiasToad Fri 22-Sep-17 22:20:44

Savage I'm off to Google what MVHR is!

Ripple, the idea would be to have underfloor heating with the pump. Did you find that the electricity bills were huge to run the pump? Did it often need maintenance? How big is the unit? I don't know how hybrid systems work buy I'd assume it would only be for downstairs and was still have conventional heating upstairs.

TobiasToad Fri 22-Sep-17 22:24:51

*but not buy
*we'd not was!

BubblesBuddy Sat 23-Sep-17 14:45:28

We have air source heat pumps. We have terrible access for the oil tanker so needed a better solution. We have a mix of underfloor heating and radiators. It is possible to fit them into an older house (ours is Victorian and modern) but you need a plumber who understands the system. They use electricity so not sure how eco they are.

PigletJohn Sat 23-Sep-17 14:57:12

Start with insulation, draughtproofing, and ventilation.

Unless your objective is to spend money on tech.

TobiasToad Sat 23-Sep-17 19:38:24

What would you suggest PigletJohn? It's already double glazed, has thick loft insulation (although we'll probably add a bit more), I'm looking at wall insulation too. Do you think there are other things we should look at? It has an integral garage and I think the garage door is a source of heat loss but not sure if we can realistically do much about that. I haven't really considered ventilation, all the links I see seem more suited to passivehaus type set ups which ours isn't.

wonkylegs Sat 23-Sep-17 20:33:17

We have done this on our Victorian villa and I've done it on clients houses (I'm an architect) and as Pigletjohn says start with the boring things first - they will make the biggest bang for your buck in terms of sustainability.
Insulation - loft (no brainer) , Underfloors - if you have suspended timber floors and a crawl space it's not a fun job but can make a big difference, Walls - depends on what walls you've got.
Low energy lighting - LEDs are very good now and the reduction in electricity usage from standard lighting can be dramatic (we went from 780w with a dimmer to 32w in one room - and it's now nicer)
Efficient boiler / hot water system with smart controls - ours a wasn't cheap but after a year of the smart thermostats / controls we've seen a huge difference in bills and comfort.
Draughtproofing and double glazing - we spent a lot on new double glazed timber sashes but it turned our house from a draughty old house to a cosy modern one (in terms of comfort), we also draughtproofed doors, use chimney caps & balloons etc
We only have solar panels & battery on the new build office in the garden which charge our electric car - no idea if they are worth the indulgence yet as they are new.
They just didn't add up on the house - we concentrated on comfort and efficiency rather than generation - reduction in usage is one of the most sustainable ways to live but I'm also very aware that if you don't make those changes easy to live with then you are less likely to stick with them.

wonkylegs Sat 23-Sep-17 20:36:34

If you're intergalactic garage is a source of heat loss - insulate the garage walls, make sure you have a good draught-proofed door between the garage and the main house

wonkylegs Sat 23-Sep-17 20:37:01

*your & integral

PickAChew Sat 23-Sep-17 20:39:12

An intergalactic garage could be a real selling point.

Daffydil Sat 23-Sep-17 20:48:48

Heat pumps are great, there are grants etc available, but even with those, if you are on mains gas, a heat pump is likely to never break even.

As others have said - insulation (roof, walls, floors), draft proofing, windows, doors, led bulbs etc are all the first places to look. No point heating a house to lose half of it.

Solar panels can be brilliant - have a look at Ikea (oddly enough). We have a 4 kW array. We also have an immersion diverter - when we aren't using as much electricity as we generate, before we export any we divert to our hot water tank. We didn't use any gas over the summer at all.

Daffydil Sat 23-Sep-17 20:49:43

We are keeping an eye on battery storage. It's not cost effective for us yet. But it will be. Eventually.

PigletJohn Sat 23-Sep-17 21:09:31

integral garage is presumably unheated.

I'd look at the floor of the room above it. You can put mineral wool between the joists, but this is a lot of effort unless you need to take it up anyway (e.g. it is chipboard and you are having a bonfire). Mineral wool does not burn.

floors are not very bad unless draughty, so look for any gaps in the garage ceiling (e.g. for pipes and cables) and stuff them with mineral wool. Get the brown stuff treated with Ecose (it's on the label) as it does not shed irritant dust and fibres.

TobiasToad Sat 23-Sep-17 23:34:44

An intergalactic garage is definitely on the list, a portal to another universe is de rigeur round here wink
Thanks everyone for the suggestions, there isn't actually a room above the garage so insulating the walls may be the answer and also doesn't need a particularly nice finish just for the garage. It isn't heated.
LED bulbs are definitely going to be put in, we had them in our old house and they were really good. Can you draughtproof standard upvc double glazing further? There are no chimneys and I'm going to put down thick underlay to insulate the floors, I honestly have no idea how the floors are underneath what's already there. Some are just concrete in the extended bit.
I had no idea Ikea does solar panels so that's one to look at and I has also thought about a battery but agree that will be one for the future.

PickAChew Sat 23-Sep-17 23:39:50

You can make sure that upvc double glazing is properly sealed inside and out. It gets done when it's installed but deteriorates fairly quickly.

SnowBallsAreHere Sat 23-Sep-17 23:40:48

I have 2 quite small PV panels on a house. Not much bigger than the venue window they are next to.
No battery, but they provide enough power for the house in daylight esp in summer and I get a small payment back from Eon for what we don't use. There is a small display in the kitchen that tells us what we make and are using. On sunny Saturday afternoons we run the washing machine, drier as needed and plug all appliances on for charging grin

SnowBallsAreHere Sat 23-Sep-17 23:41:09


PigletJohn Sat 23-Sep-17 23:47:51

" Can you draughtproof standard upvc double glazing further?"

plastic windows, especially when retrofitted to an existing house, are often clumsily fitted with gaps between the wall and the frame. Decorative trim, like architrave, is stuck on to hide the gap.

You can fill it better, typically by using expanding foam.

To find out if you have such gaps, hold something like a smoking joss stick close to the edge of the window on a windy day and see if there is a draught blowing the smoke. The trim can be prised off to look at the gap. I believe a cigarette can also be used but I never have any contact with them.

Expanding foam is very messy and sticky. How to use it will be a different topic.

TobiasToad Sun 24-Sep-17 00:15:46

That's a good idea. I haven't bought joss sticks since I was a student but now is clearly the time! Is the expanding foam a job for a professional then? Neither me nor DH are particularly adept at DIY.

PigletJohn Sun 24-Sep-17 00:39:38

if you get someone in, they need to be experienced and painstakingly careful.

savagehk Sun 24-Sep-17 09:57:05

What Piglet said. If you can find someone with a thermal imaging camera it's great fun. There might be a local group who can loan you one.

johnd2 Sun 24-Sep-17 10:18:46

Agreed with piglet John that expanding foam is messy, one time I used it and I had a training course at work with people I didn't know. Lucky in the introductions we had to give an interesting or embarrassing fact about ourselves so needless to say my filthy black unwashable hands fitted nicely!
In seriousness always fork out for a separate gun rather than using the ones with the trigger and pipe included as they're hard to control. And practice on some old wood or cardboard boxes out on the lawn.

TobiasToad Sun 24-Sep-17 20:12:29

Ok so expanding foam doesn't sound like something we'd undertake as a DIY job. Is it fairly routine for a window fitter to do?

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