All of our Surveys now include an assessment of a properties Energy Performance Certificate and the recommendations it contains. The Level Three Surveys have scope for more detailed advice and if this is something which is of particular interest please let us know and we can spend a little more time on this aspect of your Survey.
Improving the energy efficiency of many houses is expensive and potentially complex but below are listed eight measures which should be reasonably cost effective.
- Upgrade loft insulation to 300mm – 350mm. Consider using the type made from recycled plastic bottles as it has much lower embodied energy than normal mineral fibre and it is much more pleasant / safe to fit on a DIY basis. Natural wool insulation is also great to use but more expensive. Ensure an even coverage and do not to obstruct eves vents. Indeed increasing insulation will increase the risk of condensation in the loft so you must ensure that you are ventilating the property really well. Draft-proof and insulate the loft access hatch.
- Flat roofs are often poorly insulated and any large flat roofs will be a source of significant heat-loss. Try to fit at least 100mm board insulation such as Celotex, Kingspan or Recticel either neatly cut to fit between the roof joists (cold roof) or above the deck (warm roof). Warm roofs have the advantage of not requiring ventilation. Joints must be taped and gaps filled with expanding foam. This is not a DIY task but it is important to be aware of the need to insulate a flat roof and some roofing contractors may simply fill the space between roof joists with mineral fibre which is no longer really good enough and could result in condensation occurring above the insulation (beneath the deck).
- If you have cavity walls consider cavity wall insulation. It is however not necessarily recommended if the cavities are narrow, poorly constructed or blocked with debris. A good installer will thoroughly check the cavities and ensure that there is no risk of sub-floor vents becoming blocked. Cavity wall insulation is best avoided if the house is exposed to the weather and / or if the outer leaf of masonry is in poor condition.
- Suspended floor insulation (ground floor timber floors) can be fitted on a DIY basis and at low cost if access can be gained from beneath. If there is a void of 500mm or more beneath the floors an access hatch can easily be constructed by a carpenter and insulation fitted between the joists. 100mm board insulation is the best option but careful cutting to fit tightly between joists is a skilled job and fitting 100mm or so insulation batts is more achievable on a DIY basis. The recycled plastic bottle insulation may just have sufficient strength to stay in place but it would be better secured with timber battens screwed to joists at 500mm intervals. Careful attention must be paid to eliminate drafts whilst leaving sub-floor air vents unobstructed.
- Draft-proofing windows, doors, letterboxes, locks, chimney flues and other openings can be easily achieved and will significantly help in reducing heat loss in cold and windy weather. It is still important to maintain controlled ventilation to help avoid condensation and mould.
- If you have an old heating boiler replacing it with a modern condensing boiler is not necessarily cheap at around £3,000 but it will result in an instant saving of maybe 10% – 25% in energy use. A cheaper improvement is to fit a room thermostat where not already present and a digital seven day programmer. Hive or Nest are two digital control systems which can be operated via a smartphone. You may also be able to retro-fit zone control so that different parts of the house can be controlled at different times and to different temperatures.
- There is a good argument for positioning radiators beneath windows as this helps avoid air currents circulating in a room and giving the feeling of drafts. Periodic flushing of radiators will help maintain their efficiency and thermostatic valves introduce further control helping minimise energy use.
- Low energy lighting is one of the most cost effective improvements often recommended in EPCs. Low energy bulbs should pay for themselves within a year or two.