Retrofitting methods to reduce carbon emissions in Historic Homes. - Boodle Hatfield

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07 Apr 2021

Retrofitting methods to reduce carbon emissions in Historic Homes.

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Oliver Johnson View profile
3 min read

The Historic Environment Forum's recent report provided the excellent news that retrofitting historic homes could save up to 84% in carbon emissions. We wrote about this recently, highlighting how this is excellent news for people owning or thinking of buying historic homes. However, what exactly is retrofitting and how can you do it? 

Retrofitting a home is essentially adding something to it that it did not have when it was first built. For example, this could be installing a more modern and efficient heating system or as simple as adding some draught-proofing. Below are some ideas of different things historic homeowners can look into doing and implement in order to retrofit their homes and make them more carbon efficient. These are not onerous and are quick-wins in terms of improving a property's carbon footprint.

Keeping up with small repairs is a strong start; even something as small as this can make a noticeable difference to the energy performance of a property. Cracked joints in brick or stone walls, cracks in windows and other faults will allow for cold air and water to enter into the property. By staying on top of this, the building's durability and ability to retain heat is improved.

Adding or upgrading loft insulation is also a great way to prevent heat loss. Given this is internal, in many historic properties, this is an easy way to improve energy efficiency. Moreover, as this is an internal work, it is a good option for those with listed buildings as it may not require listed building consent. 

Double glazed windows is another obvious candidate but should be sympathetically done so not to affect the appearance of a historic home. While this may not be possible for every property, most notably those that are strictly listed and protected, for many historic buildings it is a great way to develop a property's insulation capabilities and the report produced by the Historic Environment Forum suggests that this alone could reduce CO2 emissions by 7%.

In a similar vein, draught-proofing is a relatively cheap and yet still effective option for homeowners. Draught-proofing doors and windows and dealing with any open chimneys can have a noticeable impact on a building's emissions output. Again, the report suggests that even just well-fitted roller blinds can reduce annual CO2 emissions by 2.5%.

Finally, a small lifestyle change can make a big difference. Heating apparently accounts for 65% of a building's energy output. By turning down a thermostat from 21 to 20 degrees centigrade and turning the heating on for one less hour a day, this can result in an almost 10% reduction in CO2 emissions which is nearly doubled when combined with draught-proofing.

With some small and often relatively inexpensive steps, owners can make a big difference in terms of the energy efficiency of their historic homes.

Heritage Counts report highlights the difference repair and maintenance can make, the power of small behaviour changes and the need for careful planning when thinking about retrofits and renovations

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