Where to start the journey to energy efficient home

Emily_Joy
Emily_Joy Posts: 1,167
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edited 2 October 2023 at 12:03PM in Energy
We have just acquired a 3-bed semi in Midlands, not far from the Birmingham airport. Current EPC is D. The boiler is from 2008. The loft has no insulation and I am assuming the cavity walls have no insulation either. Based on the smart meter data, the previous owner spent about £700 on gas & electricity so far, but we don't know (1) how often they stayed in the house (2) whether this includes government bonus (3) whether this takes any benefits into account. The energy provider was EDF. 
Does the government "Great British Insulation Scheme" worth looking at? We wouldn't be eligible for free anything, but would they give us a good idea about what is needed?
Our mortgage provider (Halifax) offers £500 cashback through the green houses scheme.
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  • Keep_pedalling
    Keep_pedalling Posts: 16,227
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    edited 2 October 2023 at 12:04PM
    First thing to do is sort out the roof insulation, a cheap fix and a relatively simple DIY job. 
  • First thing to do is sort out the roof insulation, a cheap fix and a rarely simple DIY job. 
    I agree with this, it will make a huge difference and if you are physically able to do it yourself it should cost £100-200 depending on the size of your loft (around £5 per sq. meter), the ROI would likely be six months or less as we are heading into winter. Cavity wall insulation may or may not be worth it, but the ROI is generally far longer, a decade or more in many cases.

    Once the loft is done then the next on the list should be to deal with drafts if there are any, a howling gale coming under a back door can lower the temperature of the whole house significantly. 
  • FreeBear
    FreeBear Posts: 14,271
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    MattMattMattUK said: Once the loft is done then the next on the list should be to deal with drafts if there are any, a howling gale coming under a back door can lower the temperature of the whole house significantly. 
    invest in a foam gun from ebay or amazon, and then grab a couple of cans of expanding foam - The gun makes it much easier to apply a small bead where it is needed (just remember to use a can of gun cleaner once done). Around windows & door frames are common sources of draughts. Skirting boards hide a gap between the plaster & floor - This gap is another source of cold draughts.
    Any unused fireplaces - Wrap an old pillow in a bin bag, and shove it up the flue. Tie a bit of string to the bag to make it easier to remove, and also as a reminder the chimney is blocked. Alternatively, buy a couple of chimney sheep.

    Certainly look at the "Great British Insulation Scheme" - If you qualify, it would be foolish not to take advantage of it. Longer term, put some money aside to invest in new windows & doors. Wall insulation would be high on my list, but paying for someone to do the work can make it unaffordable for some.


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  • Emily_Joy
    Emily_Joy Posts: 1,167
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    FreeBear said:
    MattMattMattUK said: Once the loft is done then the next on the list should be to deal with drafts if there are any, a howling gale coming under a back door can lower the temperature of the whole house significantly.
    Any unused fireplaces - Wrap an old pillow in a bin bag, and shove it up the flue. Tie a bit of string to the bag to make it easier to remove, and also as a reminder the chimney is blocked. Alternatively, buy a couple of chimney sheep.
    Certainly look at the "Great British Insulation Scheme" - If you qualify, it would be foolish not to take advantage of it. Longer term, put some money aside to invest in new windows & doors. Wall insulation would be high on my list, but paying for someone to do the work can make it unaffordable for some.

    The only existing fireplace will be used regularly. All windows have been replaced by Anglian about 4 years ago, so I am hoping they will be fine for a while, although the lack of lintels likely to cause issues sooner rather than later. One door in the kitchen might need replacing at some stage, but it is facing the fence, so probably will not cause the droughts and even might contribute to ventilation.
  • RelievedSheff
    RelievedSheff Posts: 11,126
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    As has already been pointed out the roof insulation is an easy win. Cheap and easy to do and will make a noticeable difference instantly.

    Make sure your boiler is serviced and running efficiently and then look at the controls. Programmable timers, TRVs, smart thermostats etc. can all save you money after the initial outlay.

    Other easy wins are changing light bulbs to LED where applicable, installing water saving devices if on a water meter and choosing energy efficient appliances as and when something needs replacing.

    Certainly look into if you are eligible for any of the insulation upgrade schemes. Although check that anything they do suggest is suitable for the type of construction of your home. Not all construction types are compatible with insulation techniques and some can cause bigger problems in the long run.
  • QrizB
    QrizB Posts: 13,676
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    Emily_Joy said:
    The only existing fireplace will be used regularly.
    If you plan to make use of open fires, be aware that they are under 30% efficient at turning fuel into useful heat and that the flue will be a constant escape route for heat from your house.
    Also, you won't be able to draught proof your house as the open fire relies on plentiful ventilation to prevent flie fmgases entering the home.

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  • badmemory
    badmemory Posts: 7,527
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    Walking round a house with a candle, very carefully supervised obviously, can be very informative.  The entry way into the loft is a prime target.  Another one which is rarely mentioned is the letter box.  The draft from mine was horrendous.  It took several attempts but I have finally solved it.
  • Emily_Joy said:
    FreeBear said:
    MattMattMattUK said: Once the loft is done then the next on the list should be to deal with drafts if there are any, a howling gale coming under a back door can lower the temperature of the whole house significantly.
    Any unused fireplaces - Wrap an old pillow in a bin bag, and shove it up the flue. Tie a bit of string to the bag to make it easier to remove, and also as a reminder the chimney is blocked. Alternatively, buy a couple of chimney sheep.
    Certainly look at the "Great British Insulation Scheme" - If you qualify, it would be foolish not to take advantage of it. Longer term, put some money aside to invest in new windows & doors. Wall insulation would be high on my list, but paying for someone to do the work can make it unaffordable for some.

    The only existing fireplace will be used regularly. 
    Unlikely all year, so stuffing the chimney is good advice to help you go that little bit longer before having to light it/turn the heating on - it's why chimney sheep were marketed in the first place (for people who didn't want to block it off permanently but didn't like living with the draft all year).

    The green houses scheme (and others AFAIK) require you to have a current EPC with no outstanding recommendations re loft or wall insulation, so they'd be the sensible place to start. 
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  • lohr500
    lohr500 Posts: 925
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    edited 2 October 2023 at 7:10PM
    We don't often light the open fire in our dining room so I always block the 8" flue of the chimney once the cold weather arrives.

    I looked at Chimney Sheeps and the balloon type draught excluders, but in the end I went for a DIY approach.

    I just rolled up a load of salvaged bubble wrap into a 9" ball and shoved it into a robust plastic carrier bag.

    The bag is then pushed up into the flue to make a tight seal.

    I have a length of red cord securely tied through the carrier bag handles leading down to the fire grate to remind me not to light the fire until the bag is removed!! The cord should also stop the bag going up the chimney in really strong winds.

    When removing the bag, I always put some old newspaper around the hearth as usually soot that has settled on top of the bag falls down.


    It is an old house and there are other sources of ventilation so I'm not too concerned about blocking off the chimney completely.
  • Emily_Joy
    Emily_Joy Posts: 1,167
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    The green houses scheme (and others AFAIK) require you to have a current EPC with no outstanding recommendations re loft or wall insulation, so they'd be the sensible place to start. 

    Apologies for the confusion - it is actually called Halifax Green Living Reward. They are offering 1000GBP cashback on heat pumps and 500GBP cashback on other green home improvements. In the latter they particularly specify loft insulation and wall insulation, so I think there is no requirement not to have outstanding recommendations of this kind.
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