Type: Victorian terrace
Years in residence: 12
No. Bedrooms: 2/3
Wall type: Ashlar stone
Area: Fairfield Park
David Symington started off making simple, relatively low cost and DIY changes to his home 12 years ago halving the gas use of his mid- terrace Victorian house.
“My motivation for seeking low-energy retrofit is to make this charming house suitable for the 21st century, when fuel bills are soaring, and we must reduce global warming. It is daft for me to be heating the air above Bath”.
Subsequently David has gone on to modestly invest in more substantial measures to
decarbonise his home including secondary glazing, underfloor insulation, solar PV, and an air source heat pump. He is an advocate of heat pumps, seeking to disprove the misconception that they are not suitable for historic homes.
Draught proofing of all doors and windows
When David Symington moved into his Victorian mid-terrace house it was draughty and difficult to heat. It was not only the windows and external doors that were a problem but the internal doors. David solved the problem by changing the doorstops using strips of wood. It took him approximately an hour per door to do this throughout the house, costing him nothing, afterwards the home felt significantly warmer.
The bases of the doors had all been sliced to allow for fitted carpets (which have since been removed), leaving 20mm gaps. David adjusted the hinges to make the doors fit better, and screwed strips of wood and draught-excluder brushes to the bases to cut down on air movement between rooms.
More recently he has had his front door draught proofed and an additional internal door installed to create a vestibule. David feels this has made a big difference to the house, reducing draughts, and making the home feel much warmer.
Refurbished double glazed sash-windows
The home’s front bay window fitted badly which was a big source of heat loss in the living room has been refurbished, installing double glazing, routing draught-strips around the sides to reduce draughts. The work, completed by a local carpenter, cost £300 10 years ago.
In 2013 David has his house thermally imaged by Transition Bath. It highlighted the lack of insulation below his floorboards, uninsulated central heating pipework, and draughty gaps:
As a result, he had his ground floor insulated with Celotex insulation between the floor joists. During the work some of the floor joists had to be repaired because they were in poor condition. The insulation will have reduced heat loses through the floor by more than 50%. Draughts were eliminated by fitting the floorboards closer together.
Loft and wall insulation
Although David had had his main loft insulated with an additional 200mm of insulation soon after he moved in, the rear loft was more challenging as there was no access to it. So, he had a loft hatch installed before insulating the loft. He also installed thermal wallpaper in the bathroom below reducing heat losses by 15%, as a cheaper and less disruptive alternative to external or internal wall insulation.
In 2021 David was lucky enough to have 6 solar PV panels installed on the rear roof of his home for free as part of the Green Grants Scheme. The panels face south-west, producing most electricity during the afternoon. David has modified his behaviour by starting his dishwasher and washing machine at midday to make best use of the free green electricity from these panels. His electricity supplier pays him for any excess electricity exported to the national grid providing some additional income.
Air Source Heat Pump
In 2021 David had an air source heat pump installed to reduce the carbon emissions of his home’s heating and hot water by 80% compared with his existing gas boiler.
The biggest impact on his home was the installation of a hot water cylinder which now takes up space in a cupboard below the stairs. David had previously identified this space for the downstairs toilet but felt the sacrifice was worthwhile. At the same time a couple of radiators needed to be upgraded to ensure the heat pump runs as efficiently as possible. The remaining radiators were large enough and didn’t need upgrading because of the previous insulation and draughtproofing work.
The installation was subsidised by a £5K government grant.
At the same time David replaced his gas hob with and electric one. This allowed the removal of his gas meter saving £100/year in standing charges.
David manages his radiators carefully turning them off in rooms when not in use. He has had bifold internal doors installed so he can divide his living room in two on cold evenings, creating a smaller cosier, easier to heat living room.
Other lifestyle changes
David whizzes in and out of town on his electric bike. He owns a hybrid car but has not been able to buy an electric car because of a lack nearby on- street charging.