Making your period home more energy efficient


I’ve always had this dream, of living in a centuries-old cottage, complete with wooden beams and open fire, in the middle of nowhere with a white picket fence surrounding the kitchen garden. While I’m still waiting for that dream to happen, I have been lucky enough to live in two period homes. My last house {whilst in the very middle of the town} was a couple hundred years old, had the beams and the open fire. My current house is around 150 years old, unfortunately, we lost the beams and the fireplaces need making usable again. Still – period houses have so much more character than new-builds, I love the quirkiness, the walls that don’t meet at right angles, the high ceilings and the life that has been lived in them. Boxy new houses are definitely not my cup of tea.

However, period homes do come with their problems. With their reputation for being draughty and expensive to run, old, uninsulated solid-wall homes do lose more heat than modern houses BUT it doesn’t have to be the way. With a few upgrades, you can enjoy a warm and cosy period home.

* Insulate the loft

About a quarter of a houses heat escapes through the loft. It’s a relatively easy and inexpensive job to insulate the loft space, and given the savings in heat costs, you’ll soon recoup your outlay.

* Replace the doors and windows

While original doors and windows look fantastic, they can allow a lot of energy to escape in the gaps around them. You could just fill the gaps, one great option is to replace them with heritage windows and doors. These timber door alternatives give you the classic look of old wooden doors and windows, with the benefits that modern uPVC brings.

* Update the heating system

Boilers that are more than 10 years old are likely to need replacing – a switch that could save you over £300 a year. It’s also worth bleeding the radiators from time to time – if they’re hot at the bottom and cold at that top, then this is a quick, DIY fix that will make a big difference.

* Block the chimney

A lot of heat can escape up the chimney, if you have an open fireplace that you don’t use, you could insert a chimney balloon to block it off. OR if you use it occasionally, you can purchase the ‘chimney sweep’ – a thick layer of felt that blocks of your chimney when you’re not using it but can be quickly removed when you want to light a fire.

* Make use of smart technology

From smart meters that monitor your energy usage, and show you where you could make savings, to thermostatic radiator valves and smart thermostats that offer control over individual heating zones, and prevent heat from being wasted.

* Change to an energy efficient stove

While an open fire is beautiful to look at and fantastic for creating atmosphere – the majority of their heat goes straight up the chimney. You could switch to wood-burning stoves which is sealed to the room, meaning they use less fuel and radiate the heat throughout the room.


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