Energy performance and energy conservation in old buildings is a notoriously hard thing to do, particularly in Northern Ireland where even the climate is unpredictable and an old building can imply a building constructed in the mid-1800s with solid stone walls. So where do we even begin the task? What do we do in an old house to save some more?
Epc4less, Belfast’s most established Domestic Energy Assessors have the answer.
Walls and Fabric
The main issue with older buildings’ energy performance is their design. Although modern building legislation set relatively high insulation requirements, and now reasonably simple conversions are expected to meet specific U-values, this was not always so.
A fabric-first approach implies you should pay attention to how the house is built and from what before you try to improve any energy systems or use in your home.
Uninsulated lofts: Loft insulation is extremely necessary because an isolated loft is able to cause approximately 25 per cent of the heat loss. Older buildings, in particular, tend not to have the necessary insulation to keep the property at its coolest, and loft insulation is among the economical and efficient things to consider. Matter of fact, even though your loft is insulated, the insulation may shrink and compress over time, greatly reducing its performance. If you have an old home, it’s worth going into the loft and finding out how much insulation you have left, and consider top-up.
Solid walls: Cavity walls were rare before the 1920s, so if you have a property earlier than that, it probably has a solid brick exterior wall. It is a design problem as its strong walls make outside temperature variations, much easier to move within. When you have solid walls, you can spend significantly more in winter on heating, since the house loses heat out through its walls. The best way to address this is by insulating the outside wall. This can make a significant difference in the Energy Performance Certificate rating, however, know that it isn’t cheap.
Glazing: Windows is also a disadvantage in older buildings, where energy performance is lost. Yet that also means making upgrades as well as savings! Old wood frames decay over time, producing cracks. These could be patched, supplanted, or rebuilt with new frames that look more or less the same.
As for the glass itself, this is still the weakest component of every house’s thermal structure – there is no doubt that glass is a poor insulator. It might be time, though, to start swapping for double or triple glazed windows. One thing to remember before changing windows is whether the building is a listed building. Listing buildings were listed as having historical significance in the village or town. Building Control rules don’t really authorise modifications impacting the design of such buildings.
Before you purchase a house, your solicitor will have to check and inform you if the property is listed. If the property is included, be ready to have those ancient single-glazed windows and also have a bedroom that is very difficult to warm up.
To get a quote for your Energy Performance Certificate in Belfast. Northern Ireland, visit epc4les.com.