Tag: solid wall insulation

£4000 Energy-saving grant for Cambridgeshire homes

A £4000 grant is still available for home-owners of Cambridgeshire homes who require solid-wall insulation (SWI). But, you need to be quick as you will need to get an assessment and sign-up for SWI before 31 March 2016 with installations to be completed by 31 July 2016.

More information on solid wall insulation

There is also a grant for Private Landlords of £4000 for solid wall insulation. In both cases at 25% contribution is required by the owners. Private Landlords will also be able to get an additional £1000 for other approved measures. The funding comes from the Cambridgeshire Green Deal Communities Fund – that originally came from the National government’s Department for Energy and Climate Fund.

When its gone – it’s gone!! 

It’s very unlikely that home-owners will get any more grants like this in the next few years. The current government appears to be moving away from subsidies. So home owners need to move fast.

Over 1000 Cambridgeshire homes have received a grant for solid wall insulation.

Sign up for an Assessment Now

Solid Wall Insulation – Unlocking Demand and Driving Up Standards

In November 2015, the chief construction adviser to the government Peter Hansford published his recommendations aimed at restoring the credibility of solid wall insulation (SWI). The report “Solid Wall Insulation – Unlocking Demand and Driving Up Standards” provides a roadmap for the way the industry needs to go to improve standards and quality of work, embracing best practice and restoring consumer confidence that will stimulate the uptake of these measures leading to improving comfort, health and well-being as well as carbon reduction benefits.

SWI Report Nov 2015

The UK has a legally binding commitment to reduce carbon emissions from 1990 levels by a massive 80% by 2050. Accordingly, the Construction 2025 strategy has set the ambition of achieving a 50% reduction in emissions across the built environment by 2025.

Given that there are around 26 million existing homes in the United Kingdom and over eight million of these with solid walls, adopting solid wall insulation as a solution for much of  existing UK housing stock makes good business sense. The UK Green Construction Board commissioned Peter Hansford to carry out this review. Its purpose is to leverage the latent possibilities in the construction industry to unlock innovation and increase demand for solid wall insulation.

BISF type system-built home

Benefits derived from treating properties with SWI, in addition to the carbon reduction benefits, include -improving comfort, health and well-being; supporting fuel security by reducing overall energy demand; addressing fuel poverty;improving fabric and reducing maintenance costs; regenerating neighbourhoods; and contributing to GDP and tax revenues. The economic case for the energy efficiency of the UK housing stock is also strong.
However, current demand for SWI is depressed for a variety of policy and technical reasons. At the same time, SWI has developed somewhat of a poor reputation due to numerous examples of inadequate installation and poor workmanship. The report considers that if  SWI is to be promoted as an effective retrofit solution, these areas need to be addressed with urgency.Orlit type system-built home The Green Construction Board is therefore keen to see increased demand for SWI and better standards of design and installation, so as to significantly reduce carbon across the domestic sector of the built environment.

With so many property archetypes existing, there is no single solution that would apply to all properties. This adds to the confusion by householders of what is the correct solution for their individual properties.

To make matters worse, the building physics for some types of property is not widely nor perhaps fully understood. This has resulted in many instances of an incorrect solution having been applied, which in some cases has caused damp, mould or poor air quality. Little wonder then, the reluctance of homeowners to spend money retrofitting their properties if the outcome cannot be assured.
To overcome these problems, a higher level of expertise is needed in assessing the correct solution for a particular property and in ensuring that it is installed properly.
The top 12 domestic property archetypes in the UK account for approximately 15.5 million homes. They represent around 60% of the total UK housing stock and 57% of its greenhouse gas emissions. Of these 15.5 million homes, around 3.5 million (some 23%) are suitable for SWI. SWI therefore has the potential to benefit a significant number of homes and play a key role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the UK domestic housing stock.
From this group of 3.5 million homes suitable for SWI, 75% are owner occupied (2.6 million); 10% are owned by Local Authorities or Housing Associations (340,000); and 15% are private rented (550,000). Nearly 1.2 million of these homes (34%) are categorised as containing ‘vulnerable households’.
The report offers recommendations to address the issues above, and proposes:

  • Taking a co-ordinated and holistic approach to insulating solid wall homes;
  • Policy measures which Government may wish to consider;
  • Focusing research on areas that are not fully understood;
  • Review and revision of standards and measures for statutory compliance;
  • More robust accreditation of assessors and qualified installers;
  • Development of guidance for assessors, designers, supervisors and customers, in language appropriate to themselves;
  • The role of a Retrofit Co-ordinator;
  • An awareness campaign with a simple message, so as to increase uptake;
  • The creation of a Retrofit Hub as a technical centre of excellence; and
  • Leadership arrangements for making these recommendations happen.

The report also contains a number of case studies of different property archetypes.

Get the full report

Additional article “Retrofit Coordinators to be mandatory for all SWI projects” – CoRE

How to make old homes energy efficient

A recent article in The Guardian offers some advice on how to make Britain’s 5 million historic homes more energy efficient. At key point in the article is that Britain’s 5m historic houses – defined by the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings as anything built before 1919 – should not be treated like new ones, and that green deal-style modern technologies were often inappropriate.

Suggestions from the team of historic advisers include:-

  • A lot of energy waste in old buildings is the result of overdue maintenance, so get the window panes fixed and clear out the gutters and drains that make walls damp and cold.
  • Do the cheap options that have the least impact on the building fabric first, eg: turning the thermostat down a degree, draught-stripping for windows and doors and a thick pair of curtains can be just as effective as more expensive measures. Floor coverings or rugs can block air infiltration and keep feet warm.
  • Think about how and when you use your building. When does it need
    to be warmer and when could it be cooler? Swap your boiler controls from a timer to a programmable thermostat and switch off what you can.
  • Historic buildings were designed to be heated one room at a time using separate open fires, which is more efficient than all at once. You can recreate this today by manually controlling thermostat valves. Programmable wi-fi radiator valves are becoming more readily available.
  • Typically, about 25% heat is lost through the roof, in comparison to 35% through the walls, 15% through the floor and 25% from windows and draughts. But the cost of insulating in the roof is usually much lower than the cost of solid wall insulation, so it is often more cost-effective to do the roof first.
  • For the big investment, focus on how you generate and distribute
    heat in your building. Ask for advice while you’re still considering your
  • Older homes deal with heat and moisture differently to more modern construction types. Look at the property as a whole system rather than considering measures individually and think about their cumulative impact on the way that the building fabric functions.
  • Consider all the simple and cheap measures first, before investing in more expensive measures such as external wall insulation – like draught excluders and heavier curtains. Think about floor coverings or rugs to block air infiltration and keep feet warm.
  • Keeping your home in a good state of repair can make a big difference, and in most cases is likely to maintain or even improve the heritage value of a home.
  • Typically, about 25% heat is lost through the roof, in comparison to 35% through the walls, 15% through the floor and 25% from windows and draughts. But the cost of insulating the roof is usually much lower than the cost of solid wall insulation, so it is often more cost-effective to do the roof first.

No or very low risk, which do not require expertise or huge amounts of money include:-

  • Know what you use and where you use it and switch off what you can.
  • Maintain the building fabric and your heating system.
  • Make sure controls and timers are set correct.
  • Replace incandescent and halogen bulbs with LED ones.
  • Install simple efficiency measures – thick curtains, draught proof strips.

Read the full article

Victorian end-terrace, renovated with sustainable materials ~ case study

open eco homes

According to Judith the owner of this Cambridge 1912 terraced house, the main aim of the renovations was to create a bigger and more usable space. Rather than moving she realised that they could live better where we were with just a ground floor extension and better storage.

Insulating the house properly to make it cosier and reduce their Co2 emissions was very important and they also worked on making the most of the natural
light, for both aesthetic reasons as well as energy usage.

Ross Street

Improvements included using different types of internal wall insulation including polyurethane with aerogel in smaller spaces and on the chimney breasts. They also added a wood burning stove and solar PV.

Full details. Look out for Cambridge Open Eco Homes days where you can visit the property. The Open Eco Homes are run by Cambridge Carbon Footprint.

If you live in Cambridgeshire you can get a grant up to £6000 for the cost of solid wall insulation. Contact Peter Bates Tel 01353 667973 peter@80pc.org


Government closes popular Green Deal Home Improvement Fund immediately

The Department for Energy and Climate Change have just announced in press release that the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund is to close with immediate effect. Despite only two days ago they issued a press release saying how successful the scheme had been and seemed to suggest that more money would be available, although they were reducing the subsidy for solid wall insulation from £6000 to £4000 from Friday 25 July and from 5 August 2014 flue gas heat recovery systems will not longer be an eligible measure for the subsidy.


See latest press release

My comment:

Only last week was I expressing concern that this scheme was in danger of becoming a classic example of “roller-coaster” intervention by DECC. This appears to have become true. DECC appear to be incapable of managing energy efficiency or renewable energy (Solar PV – Feed-in-tariff) that will lead to a steady sustainable uptake of measures – that are good for the environment, householders and the industry.

Peter Bates