Making older homes warmer, dryer and more comfortable, yet retaining their character
Retrofit is simply the process of making changes to existing buildings so that energy consumption and emissions are reduced. These changes should also provide the benefit of a more comfortable and healthier home with lower fuel bills.
Fabric First approach: “Fabric First” is a simple, straightforward approach aimed at upgrading the fabric (e.g. walls, lofts, floors) of the building first, together with making sure there is the right amount of ventilation, before tackling more complex things such as heating, hot water, or lighting systems. This can be done by improving insulation around the building and reducing heat loss through any ‘leaky’ parts of the house, for example, windows, doors and other gaps. However, care still has to be taken not to cause damp or mould which can be caused due to lack of ventilation, so plugging every nook and cranny isn’t necessarily the right thing to do.
Whole House approach: “Whole House” is where an assessment is carried out by a qualified Retrofit Professional on the whole house – the fabric (e.g. walls, lofts), services and systems (heating, hot water and lighting) and the energy used. Recognising that every home is different, it also takes into account how the occupants live in and use their home and if there any special circumstances affecting the dwelling. A plan is then produced which is usually split into phases. Each phase includes estimated costs of work that can be undertaken, estimated energy savings for each set of measures and the amount of carbon reduction that can be made in each phase. It’s then up to the homeowner to decide which measures are undertaken and when. The plan is developed and managed by a qualified and accredited Retrofit Professional. Improving the building fabric to minimise heat losses and maximise air tightness is sensible because insulation has a relatively low cost, a long-life and should only be required once before 2050 for most properties. Services and systems, by contrast, have a shorter lifespan and will almost certainly need to be replaced every 10-15 years.