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Victorian home

With insulation, draughtproofing, double glazing, secondary glazing, solar PV and behavioural change
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Overview

Age/Period: 1876
Type: Victorian terrace
Years in residence: 6
No. Bedrooms: 2
Wall type: Ashlar stone
Area: Odd Down

Key Features

Loft insulation
Floor insulation
Draught proofing
Double glazing, secondary glazing
Solar PV
Behavioural change
Energy efficient lighting

Introduction

Lyn moved into her home 6 years ago and since then has been working on reducing the home’s energy consumption, carbon emissions and making the home a more comfortable place to live.

Built in 1876 as one of five workers’ cottages for the Odd Down Bath Stone mine, by 2012 the Listed cottages were in a poor state and were unable to attract buyers to restore them. As a result, and very unusually, the Listing was removed. One of the cottages was still occupied by an elderly gentleman, old Sam, and had an earthen floor downstairs.

Set back from the road Lyn’s home has a beautiful vegetable and fruit garden to the front, plus extensive views over the playing fields to the rear.

Features

Reroofing and loft insulation

By chance the next door house had changed hands at the same time, so the new neighbours joined forces to get both roofs replaced as a joint job. At the same time the maximum recommended insulation was installed in the loft to minimise heat losses.

Extension and double-glazed rear windows

A timber framed extension was added at the back of the property, creating office space for Lyn to work. The extension also reduced the home’s overall heat loss. Double glazing was installed at the back of the home at the same time.

Underfloor insulation

In 2021 along with the removal of internals walls underfloor insulation was installed in the living room by a local builder T P Richards. As is common in older properties the floor joists were replaced at the same time, as they were in a poor state.

The floor was finished with Bamboo solid wood flooring, which is generally more eco-friendly than hardwood, harder wearing and is good value.

Wood burner

The wood burner was installed in 2020 to provide additional heat on cold evenings. Despite its low carbon benefits Lyn worries about air pollution and so only burns recycled eco-friendly briquettes, made from waste products which have lower air pollution. As the home is on top of the Odd Down plateau any smoke is dispersed in the direction of the prevailing wind across playing fields, away from nearby homes.

Solar PV

When B&NES Council supported the Solar Together bulk-buy scheme Lyn was given the confidence to have solar PV panels installed by Infinity Renewables for £3,000. 5 high performance panels were installed on the east facing roof at the back of the home, and set slightly in from a flue to avoid hard shading which would have reduced the system’s performance. This approach proved a more cost effective and equally efficient solution compared with installing 6 panels but with expensive power converters to deal with the hard shading.

The panels have halved Lyn’s summer electricity consumption with her electricity standing charges often being larger than those for usage. Over the summer Lyn pays almost nothing for electricity as she receives 15p/kWh, £25/month income for
exporting any unused solar electricity back to the national grid via Octopus’s Outgoing tariff.

Lyn optimises her electricity usage, charging devices and running her washing machine in the morning to make the most of the east facing panels. She also tries to minimise the use of her electric cooker by batch cooking and has no tumble drier, using a washing line instead. Lyn recites a quote in a cartoon with an old lady saying “My washing line is a high tech combined solar and wind powered device”!

Secondary Glazing

With the help of her son Lyn has installed acrylic sheeting with slim magnetic fixings. It involved quite a bit of research. The best information was found in a Transition Lewes’s “Magnetic-strip secondary glazing” video. The most challenging part of the installation was the measuring of the window before ordering the cut-to-measure Plastic People acrylic sheets. They needed to be careful to ensure the glazing and magnetic strip would fit the window jamb, which was narrower at the top and bottom on some windows, and with a magnetic strip thick enough to clear the staff beads. 4mm thick sheets were chosen as a compromise between what was needed for the size of the windows, their weight and ease of handling. The magnetic strips holding the glazing on were purchased from ExtraGlaze. Not only does secondary glazing reduce heat loss but it reduces draughts and noise as well.

Once the materials had been delivered the glazing was very quick to install. Lyn uses the secondary glazing seasonally on the front sash windows of the home, removing them in the summer.

Each window cost about £180 to install and saves about £25 per year per window annually in heating costs, so will payback in about 7 years.

Gas boiler Eco Button – behaviour change

If your boiler has one, Lyn recommends turning the eco-function of your boiler on. This reduces the standby heating losses on combination boilers but means it takes a little longer for hot water to come through. Lyn says:

“Don’t use the hot tap unless you really need to. With most quick handwashing or utensil rinsing, you’ve finished before the hot water reaches the tap, but…you have fired up the boiler, heated its internal systems and run some hot water into the pipes.

In general, I run hot water for a morning shower, and hot water in the kitchen for an end-of-day wash of non-dishwasher utensils. During the winter this is less important when the boiler is already hot from the central heating.”

In the winter Lyn sets the thermostat to 18C to save gas while maintaining a healthy temperature.

Lifestyle changes

Lyn is well known in Bath for committing time to several organisations, including Transition Bath, promoting community gardening and campaigning on the underlying issues of fair access to fresh, high-quality food for all, regardless of circumstances. Her front garden is full of vegetables and fruit in the summer, and she also has an allotment plot.

Lyn tries to avoid driving, walking into town, and catching the no. 4 bus back up the hill. She runs a mini car-sharing scheme – Lyn’s car is shared with 2 others, reducing the embodied energy associated with car manufacture, and freeing up road space.

Contacts

Acrylic sheets: Plastic People
Magnetic glazing strip: ExtraGlaze
Solar PV bulk buy: B&NES Council
Underfloor insulation: TP Richards