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Can you make physical changes to "old "house to make it warm e.g add another layer of bricks, insulate etc

(41 Posts)
namechangeagain2013 Wed 06-Mar-13 12:27:50

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.

nipersvest Wed 06-Mar-13 12:32:12

thick curtains, keep internal doors shut to trap in the heat, put those reflective sheets behind the radiators so the heat isn't being lost through the walls.

sympathies, our house is cold too. plan is to put a solid fuel stove in the sitting room so we can use up all the logs we have from clearing the garden. eventually!

namechangeagain2013 Wed 06-Mar-13 12:36:45

Thanks. That is not going to do it for us anymore. If it cant be solved properly we are moving so I just want to see if there is anything that can be done properly rather than tinkering round the edges. Shutting internal doors is not even tinkering- the place is freezing both sides of the door.

forevergreek Wed 06-Mar-13 12:39:59

You can add insulation onto the walls. On a kind of false baton wall, then it's boarded over and plastered ontop. Easy enough but probably not that cheap

Hattifattner Wed 06-Mar-13 12:47:34

sympathies OP - ou house is 250 year old, stone built. Brrrrrr.

Id recommend a new boiler - you will see a return on investment within 2-3 years. Our heating is on most of the time, we have similar number of rads and our gas is half of yours to heat the house.

curiousparent Wed 06-Mar-13 12:50:38

Have you looked at external wall insulation? It isn't suitable for all properties and it depends what the external aesthetics of your house are but this method is currently being used for various houses in order to help retain the heat. Kingspan are one supplier of this system - and they also do the internal insulation that someone else mentioned.

Might be worth a look!

curiousparent Wed 06-Mar-13 12:51:49

Meant to say it is rendered over the top - I have seen it done to brick wall houses but can be done to others too.

TigerFeet Wed 06-Mar-13 12:57:33

How draughtproof is it? We've just moved into a 1920/30 house and it is draughty and FREEZING. Most of the windows need replacing (which we knew when we bought it so fair enough) so we'll do that in the summer. In the meantime dh has gone round and put this stuff round all the doors and windows and this stuff to do some temporary secondary glazing. It really has helped, the temperature inside might be no better but we aren't sitting in a howling gale which makes it seem warmer.

Thankfully we have wall cavities so we'll be getting those insulated too.

Could you possibly cover the inside walls with some kind of insulating board? It would be a massive job and you'd have to replaster over and redecorate but if you love the house otherwise it would be worth it.

Also check your loft insulation to make sure that's as good as it can be.

Rather than heating the whole house could you just keep one or two rooms warm?

Flosshilde Wed 06-Mar-13 13:07:25

We live in a 30s semi and the first winter we were here it was freezing. We have had the walls checked and there are no cavities so we couldn't do cavity wall insulation. We already have double glazing.

Instead we:

- reinsulated the loft to modern standards, boarded it and put reflective foil over the roof timbers. This made a massive difference.
- new modern, efficient boiler, moved upstairs into bathroom rather than in corner of kitchen;
- covers over the two remaining open fireplaces (with ventilation holes in them), though admittedly this was more to stop DS falling into them than for warmth, but a useful side effect;
- draught excluding tape around front door.

The house is now really toasty and warm. We have the heating on low and our gas bills are reasonable.

Internal and external insulation is an option but the major drawback of the former is that it makes your rooms smaller and the latter that it is ugly and often people avoid doing the front of the house (for that reason) and therefore is a bit pointless.

namechangeagain2013 Wed 06-Mar-13 13:11:59

forever greek - i think that is what I am talking about I just think it must look very odd when it comes to doing this around windows? Also I assume it is done so it does not make rooms look significantly smaller. What sort of person would do this?

I will have a look at the external insulation but our house is big and I expect the cost even to make the whole house in keeping even if we don't insulate the whole house will be in the several tens of thousands confused.

Tigerfeet It is not draughtty - the windows are fairly new it is the building itself. It is just cold.

OhMyNoReally Wed 06-Mar-13 13:20:07

Maybe thicker underlay and wool carpets. Perhaps new radiators that bounce heat and new windows Everest do some that bounce heat into the room, we looked at them before we moved but they were too expensive.

namechangeagain2013 Wed 06-Mar-13 13:25:49

Flosshilde - that is v interesting.

We live in a detached house so no one to insulate either side but the principle must be the same. Part of the loft is a room and the other half is boarded out probably has no insulation at all which must cause heat loss. But I don't see how insulating there will help the loss through the walls on the ground floor or am I missing something? Also why does moving boiler to bathroom help? We do have a huge inglenook fireplace which probably does not help though no idea how to deal with that (we never use it).

PigletJohn Wed 06-Mar-13 13:26:43

you have thick loft insulation, you have draughtproofed, and you have carpet (not bare boards) downstairs.

So most of your heat loss will now be through the solid, non-cavity walls.

It s possible but very expensive to apply insulating foam slabs to the outside of the house, and render or clad over that. However it will change the appearance of the house. It is worth considering if the house has got to be re-rendered or re-clad anyway.

More cost-effective is to line the inside surface of the external walls with insulation and plasterboard, skimmed, over that. You will have to move switches, sockets, skirtings. Rigid insulating foam is a better insulator than mineral wool, and only has to be half as thick. Kingspan make special boards for the purpose with a plasterboard skin on an insulating slab. You wil lose a few inches off the width of the room. As well as reducing heat loss, the house will warm up faster.

You need a vapour barrier on the inside surface to prevent warm, moist air from the house getting behind the insulation and causing condensation.

If you have good access under the ground floor, you can insulate between the joists, but mist not block ventilation. It will not save as much as the loft and wall insulation.

Value for money, double-glazing costs most and saves least. Draught-proofing costs least.

PigletJohn Wed 06-Mar-13 13:29:04


you say^"When heating up it feels like a sauna"^ which indicates that your heating controls need improving. No point in overheating it. Have you got a room thermostat? Have you got TRVs? How old is your boiler? What colour is your hot-water cylinder? How is it, and the hot pipes, insulated?

namechangeagain2013 Wed 06-Mar-13 13:29:46

ok major point - parquet floor and stipped wood and tiles downstairs - no carpet smile - would this make a huge difference?

PigletJohn Wed 06-Mar-13 13:34:31


soaccidentprone Wed 06-Mar-13 13:36:45

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.

namechangeagain2013 Wed 06-Mar-13 13:42:45

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.

PigletJohn Wed 06-Mar-13 13:59:12

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.

namechangeagain2013 Wed 06-Mar-13 14:09:33

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.

ibbydibby Wed 06-Mar-13 14:18:05

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.

namechangeagain2013 Wed 06-Mar-13 14:21:23

so you just has one wall done?

didimisssomething Wed 06-Mar-13 14:21:38

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!

PigletJohn Wed 06-Mar-13 14:22:10

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.

MinimalistMommi Wed 06-Mar-13 14:30:00

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...

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