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Published on March 9th, 2023

Top Tips for Retrofit Projects

Retrofitting your house is a wonderful way to enhance the energy efficiency and the value of your property, helping you stay warm and save money. It also reduces the carbon emissions from your home.

3 mins Retrofit Guides Handy Guides

Retrofitting your house is a wonderful way to enhance the energy efficiency and the value of your property, helping you stay warm and save money. It also reduces the carbon emissions from your home.

There are many areas to consider when making retrofit improvements, from heating, to insulation through to energy generation. While we always recommend getting a whole house retrofit done in one go (you save money on the overall cost, you only have the builders in just the once, and it’s better for the environment), there are several DIY solutions for your home that you can implement to start your retrofit journey today. 

To fully understand what your home needs you can start by booking a home assessment with one of our accredited surveyors.

Contents:

  1. Loft Insulation
  2. Windows
  3. Walls and Radiators
  4. Doors
  5. Floors
  6. Heating Controls

1. Loft insulation

As the main culprit in energy inefficiency is heat-loss, start by reviewing areas most susceptible to heat escaping. This begins at the top of the house with the loft.

While wall insulation generally requires specialist installation, loft insulation is something you can install yourself, and generally isn’t too expensive. B&Q have an excellent guide on how to properly DIY the insulation in your loft. You’ll likely want to do this in the spring or summer when there’s less chance of rain - not that you’ll be knocking through the roof, but it does mean that you’ll be prepared to make the most of the extra insulation in the winter. Just be careful with how hot it can get up there on a sunny day. 

The full retrofit: Loft insulation comes in a couple of forms depending upon whether you use your attic for storage or if it’s just a space at the top of the house. You can install layers of insulation material - if you need to get into the attic - or hire a professional to come and provide blown-in insulation if you don’t. 

2. Windows

Windows are another one of the key culprits in heat loss. They’re generally the first place you notice a breeze due to cold coming through a gap in a window. Sometimes this is due to double-glazing ageing and the sealant beginning to crack, and sometimes it’s because you don’t have double-glazing! If there is a noticeable gap for air to get through, you can buy replacement sealant to cover up potential problem areas

If you don’t have double glazing, or even if you do, another solution is to get thicker curtains. Adding a thicker layer of fabric will help prevent heat loss as they act as an insulated area - you can even get dedicated thermal curtains designed to increase this efficiency. This works both ways - in the hot days of summer, curtains are a great way of keeping the house cooler as they block heat coming in from the sun.

The full retrofit: Double or triple-glazed windows are the most effective way to prevent heat loss. Although it can seem a bit daunting, if you don’t have them they’re almost certainly going to be one of the first places you can increase the thermal performance of your house. You can start understanding what your property needs by booking a home assessment with us.

3. Walls and radiators

Every winter there is plenty of focus on how to keep your house warm and reduce bills. Every winter one of the recurring suggestions is radiator reflectors, and with good reason. 

If you have wall-mounted radiators, their heat is emitted from both sides of the radiator - becoming split between entering the room and soaking into the walls - therefore going to waste. By placing reflectors on the walls, you’re sending that heat back into the room - making sure you’re wasting much less, and ensuring the radiators can work more efficiently.

Note - although it might seem an even cheaper solution just to use silver foil, and it will have some effect, it’s not nearly as efficient as dedicated radiator reflectors. You can increase their capability by attaching foil to double layered cardboard.  

The full retrofit: Ensuring the wall is insulated as much as possible against heat-loss will make a big difference. Wall insulation differs depending on if your wall is a cavity wall or solid. If it’s a cavity wall, you’ll get insulation blown in (much like the attic option) and if it’s a solid wall you’ll need panels, either external or internal. 

4. Doors

A draughty door is another one of the usual suspects for an unwanted breeze, and it’s also one of the easiest to find a solution to. Get a draught excluder! Whether it’s purely functional, or you want to use it to add a bit of style to the home, it will help keep the place warmer by blocking an obvious exit point for heat to escape, and cold air to get it.

The full retrofit: A double-glazed door will add insulation to one of the biggest gaps in the house.

5. Floors

Heat looks for all areas it can to escape, and 10% to 15% of our home's heat is lost through the floors. Before you consider underfloor heating (and even if you do), it’s worth having a look at your carpets and either re-laying them or adding a rug to areas that may have cold spots. Anything to add a barrier to heat escaping.

The full retrofit: Underfloor heating and/or improved insulation. The type of insulation depends on the type of floor. If you’ve got a concrete base, you’ll need an insulation layer either on top of, or below the concrete. With suspended flooring, you can insulate it in much the same way you would your walls. It  is an extremely efficient way to heat a room as there are no ‘cold spots’ as the UFH will be evenly laid across the floor. You can even get electric heating tiles, which are less invasive than having the floor ripped up and pipes laid. 

6. Heating controls

It might not seem like an obvious answer, but as retrofit’s focus is on energy efficiency, looking at your boiler setting could be a good way to increase your home’s energy efficiency. The default temperature is usually too high for our daily requirements. Setting the boiler to 60c (or 50c if your house was built after 2010), rather than the factory setting (which is 75c) will help it work more effectively. You can read more about this in our energy saving checklist. 

The full retrofit: Get a heat pump. Although the efficiency of gas boilers has improved (newer models are about 95% efficient), they still generate wasted energy. A heat pump doesn’t need to transfer the energy from one form to another, instead transferring the heat from outside to in - making it at least 100% efficient. In many cases, it can generate more energy than it uses.

Generally any retrofit work can be done at any time of year - especially the DIY solutions - but it does make sense to plan to implement changes in the spring or summer when you’re less reliant on heat retention to stay warm. 

For bigger projects, it’s worth considering doing multiple improvements at once. This reduces the disruption to your home and is better for the environment as you’re limiting the number of times the builders are out.

Book a home assessment and start your journey to a healthier home with Furbnow.

Written by

Oisin Teevan