Updated: Nov 5, 2021
When we help you plan your project there are technical aspects, which we will look at with you from the outset. The aim is to optimise your investment and to maximise your wellbeing.
EPC - enter the contest!
While the EPC is not a perfect indicator, it is worthwhile employing this for some orientation.
Your can find out your property’s rating here: https://find-energy-certificate.digital.communities.gov.uk/
For some time, the E rating has set the minimum standard for lettable properties, getting buy to let mortgages etc. The government has been targeting C rating by 2035, while the Climate Change Committee is pushing to bring this target forward to 2028. While this regulation may not impact yourselves as homeowners in terms of fines or re-mortgaging, the rating of your property tends to affect property value and if it ends up below the standard, you will limit your market during a sale. So, any refurbishments must now look at achieving a C rating or better where feasible. There are many ways to achieving this and it is a balance of what works best for the project, client aspirations and budget.
Insulation - go natural and use UK products!
You can either insulate from the inside or the outside, meaning inside structural elements keeping these cold or from their outside meaning keeping them warm. The benefit of insulating from the outside is, that you can use your existing (often brick) walls as thermal mass and reduce heating needs during the night time, when this mass will release heat which it stored during the day. The other benefits of insulating externally are that you will not lose useable floor area, that you could phase this work and get the interior done first and that one can simply fix things into walls without having to look for studs. There are several eco-friendly insulation products available on the market now made from hempcrete or wood fibre. They come with much less embodied energy and they can allow your building to breathe and mitigate condensation and mould. Creating a healthy indoor climate with breathable walls then also means using a vapour-permeable outer layer such as a lime render or vented rain screen cladding. Common plastic paints would be replaced by lime wash or mineral paints.
Heat pumps - make the switch!
These are perhaps less about saving energy bills and more about making the switch to more efficient (300%+) and environmentally friendly heating in new builds and refurbishments when one insulates buildings well. While their procurement is more expensive than an ordinary gas boiler, one can get grants that pay back some of the initial outlay over several years. Energy bills with heat pumps tend to be similar to gas and only reduce cost significantly when you heat mostly at night, using low cost electricity tariffs. According to EDF this can be up to 25% with an air-source-heat-pump (ASHP). Of course, you would need to be well insulated and design interior and openings well to minimise your daytime heat loss and to minimize your daytime heating requirements. Ground source heat pumps (GSHPs) are even more efficient, but they do cost more to install. At the moment, government gives significant grants through the RHI (Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive). However, these grants will only be available to system commissions until March 2022. From April 2022 the government is looking to cap these grants at £5000. The most common heat pump type that is being installed is the ASHP which require less of an initial outlay (£8-12K including installation, unvented water tank and large volume radiators).