Restore warmth to your historical home

Posted by Neil Harrison on 24th October 2016

Across Scotland we have a wide range of housing types, styles and properties built in different periods. Some of us live in historical homes that are built before 1919 such as Victorian tenements or Georgian Town Houses, some of these are listed buildings or are in conservation areas which have stricter planning regulations.  Edinburgh alone has 49 conservation areas with 23% of the population living in conservation areas.  This mix of older properties provides challenges in terms of managing energy efficiency while conserving the integrity of the buildings and the areas we live in. 

Hard to treat visits from Home Energy Scotland

Home Energy Scotland has a team of specialist advisors right across the country that can come and visit properties which are classed as ‘hard to treat’, helping people to increase the energy efficiency of their properties and keep the heat in. Ewan Fisher – Technical Manager at Home Energy Scotland outlines about what a typical visit to a ‘hard to treat’ property involves.

“First of all we would want to get an idea of the building fabric and find out what energy efficiency measures were already in place. To achieve this we would walk round the property with the customer and identify the wall construction, view the loft insulation, note the age of the property, what type of glazing they had, look at the heating system and make a note of all the insulation in place.  The main purpose of this inspection is to identify the key areas of heat loss and where potential savings can be made.  If the visit is carried out during the colder months, the thermal imaging camera can be a very useful tool to identify areas of heat loss.  The data we gather is similar to what is used for an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and we would use this to compile a report to send to the customer with recommendations of energy efficiency improvements that could be made.

This is an example of a heat loss image taken from the outside of a building looking in. The left hand window hasn’t been treated and the right hand window has been treated with secondary glazing. The red colour indicates a high level of heat loss escaping from the untreated window, you can see what a difference the secondary glazing makes.

Once we have carried out an initial survey of the property we would discuss the different potential measures with the householder and explain the benefits but also highlight any areas for concern.  In older historical properties the key area of heat loss is through the walls but because standard cavity wall insulation is not possible there are a lot of other factors to consider.  For example if you are thinking about installing internal wall insulation, you need to consider the impact on room space, disruption, cost and the materials being used, these are all things we can advise on.  If the property is on the ground floor then underfloor insulation would be also be considered.

Glazing options are another common area for concern in older properties however there are various different methods that you can consider to suit your needs and budget.  If the property is listed you may still be able to consider slim-line double glazing, a cheaper alternative could be secondary glazing or draught proofing of which there are many varying different systems that we can advise on.  Even some very straightforward methods such as draught proofing foam round the windows or thick thermal curtains can have a positive impact on reducing heat loss.

The last key measure would be the heating system and controls because even if the insulation etc. is all in place, it will not be as effective if the heating system is inefficient. We would want to identify how efficient the heating system was and make sure it had a full set of controls.  During the visit we would also discuss how to use the system most effectively.

Lastly we would advise on potential funding that is available, how you would access this and that we can provide as much ongoing support as is required such as looking over quotes for work being carried out.”

Restoring warmth to your historical home

If you would like more information on ‘hard to treat visits’ then contact Home Energy Scotland on 0808 808 2282, or if you live in Edinburgh, the local Home Energy Scotland advice centre has organised two events in November called “Restore warmth to you historical home”. The event brings together specialists in the field to answer your questions; whether that’s improving heat loss through windows, walls, or providing simple and effective tips to reduce draughts such as using full length insulated curtains.

The expert speakers include; the City of Edinburgh Council - Planning Department, Historic Environment Scotland, Changeworks and members of the Green Homes Network who are people that have already implemented energy efficiency measures in their homes and are happy to share their experiences. You can also meet specialist installers who have experience of working in historical buildings.

Event details

Tuesday 8 November, 5.30-7.30pm

Summerhall, Edinburgh EH9 1PL

Info and book
Wednesday 16 November, 5.30-7.30pm

Royal Scots Club, 29-31 Abercromby Place, Edinburgh EH3 6QE
Info and book

We recommend that you book your place at the event in advance.