Is it all about insulation?

There’s a lot of talk about how poor the housing stock of the UK is. Particularly how poorly insulated it is. (Remember Insulate Britain?) It’s also common to hear how this is going to make reductions in energy usage very expensive or impossible.

It’s not impossible and it may not be cheap. However, we can shift our thinking and make some changes.

The Victorian House has seen change before

We have come to think of our homes as more than protection from the elements. Much of the housing stock of the country was built for coal fires and ventilated accordingly with glazing to keep the wind and rain out and a roof to keep the rain off. 

The cavity wall was invented to stop rainwater penetrating the inner wall of the house. It wasn’t to keep warm air in.

Electrifying those homes to give lighting and power to new appliances was an upheaval as was installing plumbing for indoor bathrooms. Then we often went one step futher and installed central heating. Heating the whole house was never a good idea but gas was cheap and plentiful so we did. 

Can you see the problem?

Central heating and heating the whole house has proven to be unsustainable. The  fabric of the houses was never designed to stop heat loss from the air inside being heated to 25 degC!

One way to look at this afresh is to really get to know your house. Without the heating on, which rooms are warmer than others and which ones have better light at different times of day? Can you use use your home differently at different times of day? Are you warm enough with blankets on the sofa watching tv in the evening to do without the heating? Does your bedroom need to be heated?

Are there things you can do over the warmer months to prepare your house for the coming autumn and winter? In wilder parts of the US there is a time when Winterizing work is done, changing the curtains for heavier ones, putting down rugs, making sure drains are clear and preparing for snow.

Perhaps adopting that spirit could help us too so I’ll be talking about these questions in future posts.


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