Listed Property Improvements
There are innumerable pleasures that come with owning a listed property, some that can only be appreciated by those who know the joy firsthand. A listed property encompasses character that can rarely be gained from any other property. However, this privilege comes with a certain responsibility and it is of upmost importance to remember to uphold and maintain your listed property, not only for your own comfort but to ensure future generations can enjoy it too.
Research carried out by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) indicates that roughly half of the houses built before 1929, irrespective of size, have Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) ratings of E or worse, with G being the worst, compared with just 3% of those built since 1996. This can have huge bearings on the cost of heating your property, with the annual repercussion of an unnecessarily inflated energy bill.
With strict restrictions in place to protect protect the character and setting of listed properties from being affected, it can often be difficult to find measures that effectively improve energy efficiency, without risk of impacting on the structure in any way.
Windows and Doors
Windows and doors are a major source of heat loss due to gaps and cracks forming as the building distorts over a long period of time. Before considering draft-proofing, it is important to check your windows and doors for possible repairs as traditional pieces can almost always be improved even if they are in very poor condition. Repairs will also preserve the true character and history of the property, unlike a replacement. If your windows are in good condition, they could still be letting heat out if they don’t have any Window blinds to cover them in the cold weather. Putting the blinds down whilst the heating is on will mean that the heat is kept in the house, rather than it escaping through the window.
It is suggested that within listed or historic properties a preference for repair rather than replacement is favourable. Not only could the replacement of a window or door, even if with an exact replica, require consent but the use of double glazing will also inevitably lead to a loss of historic fabric. As windows decay over time, regular maintenance is always a good investment.
If no repairs are required draft-proofing can provide a simple, cost effective solution to reduce heat loss. Historic England, the public body that looks after England’s historic environment, suggests that draft proofing is one of the least obtrusive ways to improve comfort levels and reduce heat loss whilst instilling minimal change to a properties appearance, stating that “research has shown draught-proofing can reduce air leakage in windows by between 33% and 50% significantly reducing the energy requirement needed for heating the room”. There are several draft-proofing practices to consider.
The two main options of draft-proofing seals for listed properties are compression seals and wiper seals.
- Compression seals are used when the moving part of the door or window closes against the frame, and are most suited to sealing narrow, even gaps. Compression seals tend to be low cost and easy to install.
- Wiper seals are used when moving parts of a window or door slide past each other and can still work when a window or door is moderately warped. It is important to check with the manufactures instructions to check which product is best suited to your building.
Secondary glazing should be considered when other draft proofing solutions are not feasible, for example if the windows cannot be altered or when gaps are too large to seal. Though mainly used for thermal insulation, secondary glazing has also been said to also improve noise insulation. If you choose to install secondary glazing you should not add any additional means of draft proofing to your properties original windows; this will help to avoid condensation occurring.
In most cases secondary glazing is accepted by conservation officers as a reversible alteration, meaning it can be removed with almost no impact on the original fabric of the building. Regardless of this, it is important speak to a conservation officer before applying any modification of your listed property to ensure its appropriateness for your individual home.
Interior furnishing can also play a key part in maintaining good levels of insulation in a listed property. For instance, thermal curtains are not only effective at keeping out unwanted natural light, they also prevent unnecessary heat loss. Thermal curtains are either double or triple layered heavy fabric with a thick backing of insulated material as well as a polyester film vapour barrier. All of these layers make thermal curtains extremely effective at retaining heat within your home, forming a pocket of air between the window and the room.
To get the best results, the curtains should be hung as close to windows as possible, when used properly thermal curtains can reduce heat loss by up to 25%. Naturally, thermal curtains are easy to remove and do not change the historic fabric of a listed property.
If thermal curtains are utilised alongside pelmets, the heat retaining qualities of your property become even greater. Pelmets are installed above your windows to prevent air from passing behind your curtains and cooling down, before seeping back into your home. This can have considerable effects on the overall warmth of your home. Pelmets are not difficult to install, and do not affect the historic fabric of your building, although it is worth consulting a conservation officer before doing so.
Heating a home accounts for roughly 60% of your whole energy bill and consequently any improvement that can be made to improve the energy efficiency of the property will have a positive long term effect on your heating bill.
Furthermore, according to a government study carried out on over 325,000 properties throughout the UK, indicated that, on average, energy efficient homes sell for 14% more than unimproved properties.
As well as improving the efficiency of your home, the way in which the property is heated should also be considered, especially those that rely on carbon heavy, inefficient fuels. Making a switch to a renewable heating technology could not only significantly reduce your carbon footprint but can save you up to 50% on your heating bills annually. Renewable heating can also improve the level of comfort in your home, providing a constant all year round temperature and protecting the structure of the listed property.
When designed by an experienced and skilled installer, historic or listed properties can see the greatest benefits from renewable heating, due to their high fossil fuel running cost and available funding from the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). The Renewable Heat Incentive is a guaranteed financial incentive available from the government to promote the installation of renewable heating. The tariff is available to consumers both on and off the gas grid who meet the application requirements, though those currently off mains gas have the greatest savings potential and the best opportunity to reduce significant carbon emissions.
If you’re currently heating your property with oil or LPG, a renewable system could half your heating bills and pay for itself in 3-6 years, providing many further years of cost savings and RHI payments.
Contact Ecovision now to find out how much money switching to high-efficiency, eco-friendly heating technology could save you within your listed property.
Visit us at the Listed Propery Show, Olympia London at stand D14 on 20-21 February to speak to our friendly team about renewable technology in your own listed property.
However, with all appliances, something could go wrong at any time and this is why you should make sure you have a home warranty plan from somewhere like First American, so that if you do need a repair or replacement then it will be done as quickly and cheaply as possible.