Tuesday, 16 January 2007

upgrading our housing stock

The Government have set eco standards for new homes to be built, the code for sustainable buildings, but what about the 99% of housing that already exists that were built to far lower insulation standards than todays. Mine is 100 years old and homes of this age were lit by gas and heated by fires so they werent designed to keep the air in. (1)

It will save energy to upgrade older houses. Many are built better and will last longer than recently built houses, so represent an investment. To knock them all down and start again, would damage communities as they would build lots of flats where there are now houses. Very large energy cost to building them, as well as financial costs.

UK is Biggest Energy Waster in Europe. A survey carried out by the Energy Saving Trust has revealed that the UK wastes more energy than other European countries. The results of the survey have been published in a new report "Habits of a lifetime" which was published as part of Energy Saving Week. For further information visit www.eeph.org.uk/energy/index.cfm?mode=view&news_id=747

New Figures Show Potential 7M Tonne Home Carbon Savings. Millions of tonnes of carbon and billions of pounds from fuel bills could be saved by simple measures like cavity wall insulation, new Government analysis reveals. The initial report from the Review of the Sustainability of Existing Buildings shows that millions of homes across the country could benefit from cost effective improvements which cut both carbon emissions and fuel bills. For further information visit www.communities.gov.uk/index.asp?id=1002882&PressNoticeID=2282

1 See www.periodproperty.co.uk/article018.htm for information on Lighting in the Victorian Home

2 http://www.theyellowhouse.org.uk/ is a very good example of how to upgrade an ordinary house to a high eco home standard.


Lizzie Chatterjee said...

Hi Adrian,

Excellent topic - glad for your interest. This is something we've been advising Govt on over the last couple of years.. our report can be found here


I'd be interested in your comments.

Adrian Windisch said...

Hi Lizzie, this is my first comment, nice to know someone is reading it.

Interesting document, quite difficult to read 109 pages of pdf though. Several points that agree with my blog, hope the government listens to this one. Interesting that it was funded by the ODPM, Prescott isnt known as an environmentalist, wants to build on the green belt. 689,000 empty homes according to page 15.

I hope the environmental cost of any action will be asessed just as any financial benefit. The embodied energy of new build is very high, as often the wrong materials are used, eg too much concrete. The more timber involved the better, this will help to lock away some of that carbon. Straw bales and cob walls have minimal energy cost, lime plaster rather than concrete etc.

I didnt mention in my blog that local government will help with some things, they subsidise loft insulation, did mine very quickly and cheaply, 10 inches in my loft reduces my heating bills.