All of our family are interested in environmental issues including household energy efficiency, the countryside and wildlife. I also find DIY, using recycled products where possible, practical and fulfilling and a relaxation from my job as a management consultant. We have carried out the energy saving refit of our house for several reasons including comfort (a warm house is more comfortable than a cold house) plus doing the right thing in terms of reducing our carbon emissions. The energy efficiency renovation process has also been very interesting and satisfying. Helping others to reduce their emissions in a cost effective manner, including avoiding some of the blind alleys we went down, is also very rewarding
Large (200m2) 1900 Edwardian end of terrace property over 3 floors including attic. Solid wall construction with 31 windows. All original features including sash windows, coving, wood floors and two fireplaces now with wood burning stoves.
2 wood burning stoves (main one on ground floor)
New high efficiency gas boiler
Solar hot water
All windows with secondary glazing
All internal faces of external walls with internal wall insulation
Underfloor sheeps wool insulation
Continuous running heat recovery fan in bathroom
The main benefit of the refurbishment is that now the whole house is always warm and comfortable without being too stuffy or humid. We only need the central heating during mid winter and then for all 15 mins in the morning and mid afternoon. Cutting wood for the stove is also fun. The continuous running fan provides adequate ventilation and prevents condensation.
We enjoy the stoves the most including procuring, cutting, splitting and storing the wood. We burn mainly tree surgeon trimmings and waste wood to get the stove going. The main stove provides a focal point for the house and heats the whole house (including the bedrooms). A stove top fan is effective in moving the heat from around the stove to the rest of the house. We use the central heating system only for 2×30 min sessions during the coldest days. Wood storage needs to be planned well in advance with logs split and aired for at least 12 months before burning. We use a moisture meter to ensure an efficient burn.
At the moment we have just finished the garden shed made from pallets and with a green roof using recycled wool carpets.
Have had thermal image survey of whole house (inside and out) and now addressing the cold spots.
Updated on 04/03/2014
I insulated the solid walls internally using Sempatap which is only 10mm thick but quite effective.
I have fitted Sempatap in 2 houses and not had any issues. I admit I have not peeled it off to look at what may or may not be happening behind the Sempatap in areas where the seal may be less than 100%. But there is no visible damp or mould.
In terms of performance, my experience is that the rooms after the Sempatap was fitted were significantly warmer than before on a like for like basis.
This negative Telegraph Article on Sempatap does not address the following points in favour of Sempatap
1. Sempatap is a DIY product whereas the other options are not (so the cost/m2 comparison is not robust)
2. Sempatap can be fitted around coving etc which massively reduces the overall cost of internal wall insulation as the thicker systems would require replacment of coving (lots of money)
3. Sempatap is thinner and hence less obtrusive. I aim to fit more insulation on top off the Sempatap in areas where it is practical and inobtrusive.
Overall I am very happy with the Sempatap. It would be interesting to see the origin of many of the anti-Sempatap stories. My feeling is it it is a bit like 80% of objections to wind farms can be traced back to fossil fuel /nucleur lobbyists.
I put the insulation between the joists in the original suspended wooden floor and kept it in place with chicken wire stappled to the underside of the joists. All this work was done from below the floor without lifting the floor boards as there is sufficient crawl space. Best to work with someone else for this as avoids climbing in and out all the time. Wool (being flexible, is good for this as the joist are not parellel (variable spacing).
I made a trap door through the existing floorboards to give me access. As the area under the floor is reasonably deep I did the underfloor insulation with sheeps wool by crawling underneath the floor without taking up the floor boards. Less disruption but you need to be slim and not mind confined spaces! You might also encounter some builder’s rubble en route. The underfloor can also provide good storage once cleared.
Where I have used Thermafleece for wall insulation I have also used a thick polythene vapour barrier. This needs to go on the internal face of the insulation and be 100% (be careful at edges and around sockets etc).
Wool is a hydroscopic product and so absorbs moisture without affecting its thermal properties which is not the case for other materials such as Rockwool. The wool can also be handled without a mask and gloves and is a good use of a waste product. Use dress maker scissors to cut it to size.
There are now other similar wool insulation products such as Black Mountain which you may find to be cheaper.
I did not use a vapour barrier for the underfloor insulation with Thernafleece. This has not been a problem for me.
I have fixed Magneglaze secondary glazing over the sashes. I draft proofed the sashes where possible. We also refurbished the sash windows (new cords etc) and returned them to the natural wood on the internal faces. Cheaper than new windows and nicer looking.
I insulated the solid walls internally using Sempatap. As this is only 10mm thick I avoided having to adjust the window frames, dado rail etc. And it doesn’t matter whether you do windows or walls first.