We moved into this house in 2001 and improved it in two stages – the initial stage was needed to replace a worn out boiler, single glazed windows that were in poor repair and insulate the loft. Arthur Williams is a lecturer in energy topics to engineering students; Regina Dengler a Complementary Therapist, so we had an awareness not only of energy saving technologies but also the benefits of using natural materials for a healthy home. The second stage of the improvements included the external wall insulation and the installation of the PV, with the aim of improving the comfort of the house and saving money in the long term.
In the first place the improvements were made to make the house more comfortable to live in and save on energy costs. Before the second stage of improvements we had started to monitor our energy use and had become aware of the poor energy rating of the house, which is typical of most houses built before 1920.
The property is a three-bedroom house built in 1902. It is detached, but the floor area is similar to many semi-detached properties (100 sq.m). It is mainly brick construction, with 9 inch (22 cm) solid walls. It has a slated roof, but the original slates have been replaced by fibre cement slates. It has some decorative features typical for houses of this age – Bullwell Stone plinth below the window level at the front of the house; leaded lights in the front door and window alongside the front door. The front of the house and the remainder of the ground floor exterior was rendered when we moved in. The addition of the external insulation has therefore made limited difference to the appearance of the property.
• Wood framed double glazing with low-E glass
• All windows either replaced or fitted with draught proofing
• External insulation – 60 mm Phenolic board rendered over
• 50mm internal wall insulation
• 220 mm with “warmcell” recycled paper loft insulation
• 20mm floor insulation to kitchen/dining room
• Gas-fired Condensing combi boiler fitted and TRVs on all room radiators
• 3.85 kW photovoltaic system
• Woodstove fitted in living room
• Low energy lighting throughout
• Low energy appliances throughout
• Water saving devices include; low/full flush devices on toilets
The refurbishment has made the house easier to keep warm in winter and has improved the indoor environment. Before the external insulation was applied, patches of mould appeared at points against the cold external walls where there was limited ventilation. Overall, the process has made us, and our children, more aware of energy use and ways to reduce our reliance on conventional fuel sources.
In winter – the wood burning stove; in summer the solar PV electricity – with careful planning we hardly need incoming electricity during the daytime.