Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Sustainable Ways to Make Old Homes Cosy for Winter

With the Met Office forecasting the UK’s coldest winter for five years, Mukti Mitchell - home energy saving expert and author of The Guide to Low Carbon Lifestyles - has top tips to share for making old homes warm and cosy for the months ahead.
Mukti is Director of CosyHome Company, a leading specialist in sustainable retrofitting solutions for period properties. CosyHome has just been shortlisted for two environmental awards for its work restoring the iconic heritage village of Clovelly, renowned worldwide as one of the UK’s most picturesque, historic villages.  The company was shortlisted for the “Home” category of last month’s P.E.A. Awards and for the "Environmental Champion" category of Devon's prestigious DEBI Awards (to be announced on Thursday 24th November).
CosyHome’s exemplary insulation of all 120 properties in Clovelly (having just completed Phase One) provides a timely model for how old buildings – and even whole villages - can be restored and insulated so they are warm for winter, preserve their beauty and character, save energy and protect the environment, while also reducing heating bills.  In addition, the sustainable insulation techniques employed meet the ‘e-rating’ energy performance standards soon to be legally required by landlords renting out properties.

Mukti’s ten top sustainable ways to insulate your old home are as follows:
1. Draught-proof your doors and windows, which lose 30% of household heat.  Old properties do need ventilation though, so only treat doors and windows with noticeable draughts.
2. Top up your loft insulation to 300mm (12 inch) thickness.  Rockwool is the cheapest, however Thermafleece sheep wool insulation is more efficient, lasts far longer and supports British farmers.  Typical lofts lose 10% of a home’s heat; this is reduced to just 3% after a top-up.

3. Double or secondary glazing can save 70% of heat lost through windows. Rotten windows can be replaced with double glazing, but for beautiful windows in good condition secondary glazing offers nearly the same efficiency, yet with better sound proofing, while also preserving their character.  ‘Advanced secondary glazing’ (developed by CosyHome), comprises of Plexiglas fitted to existing sashes which is more thermally efficient and virtually invisible.

4. Insulate sloping ceilings - if your bedroom ceilings have a sloping part this is usually because plasterboard has been fitted allowing cold external air to circulate above to ventilate the rafters, which can lose a phenomenal amount of heat.  To prevent this, insulation boards can be fitted on the inside and re-plastered.  Called “Room-In-Roof” insulation, this is more costly than the earlier measures but makes a big difference to warmth in the room.

5. Have Radiator Enhancers fitted behind your radiators.  These heat-reflective panels stop heat going into the walls and reflect it into the room where you want it.  Estimated to save 7% on heating.

6. Seal up the gaps in your floorboards and skirtings. CosyHome Company offers a long-term solution using marine deck caulking, which is completely unnoticeable.

7. Fit thermal lining to your curtains.  The speed of heatloss, called a “u-value”, is 5.5 for single glazing, 1.8 for double or secondary glazing and just 1.0 with lined curtains – so curtains save half the heatloss.

8. External wall insulation (EWI).  Ideal for rendered or slate hung walls, EWI consists of insulation boards such as Celotex (synthetic) or Diffutherm (wood fibre board) glued to the external walls, covered with wire mesh and re-rendered.  EWI has no risk of condensation being trapped behind it, protects the wall, and reduces its u-value from 2.0 to as low as 0.2, majorly effecting warmth.  Costs start from around £10,000 for one dwelling.

9. Internal Wall Insulation (IWI).  If you can’t fit external wall insulation because your home is listed, or have stone walls you don’t want to render, internal wall insulation can be highly effective.  The technique is similar to EWI, and insulation boards are glued to internal walls and covered with plasterboard.  IWI is sensitive because if done incorrectly condensation and dry rot can get behind it, so an architect’s specification is recommended.
10. The last measure is floor insulation.  If you have cellars you’re lucky because insulation can easily be fitted up between the ceiling joists and covered with netting or boarding.  Otherwise floorboards need to be taken up and insulation fitted below.  Solid floors can be excavated and insulation put below new floorboards.
Mukti Mitchell - who once sailed a micro eco yacht around Britain (launched from Clovelly) - is aiming to catalyse an insulation revolution across the UK.  “Insulating all Britain’s homes would reduce the national carbon footprint by 10%,” he says. “While CosyHome is ambitiously aiming for over 50% growth per year, one company could never insulate even 1% of Britain’s 27 million homes, so we hope other companies will copy our techniques. Meantime, with freezing temperatures predicted across the UK in the coming weeks, now is the time to insulate your period home and get it cosy for winter.  And you can do so safe in the knowledge that you’ll also be preserving its beauty, saving energy and money, and helping to avert climate change.”
More information
For more info about CosyHome Company and sustainable insulation solutions for period homes, visit: www.cosyhomecompany.co.uk  For more info about Mukti Mitchell and the Guide to Low Carbon Lifestyles visit: www.lowcarbonlifestyle.org.uk