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How to Improve Energy Efficiency in Historic Buildings in Wales

How to Improve Energy Efficiency in Historic Buildings in Wales

The challenge of climate change requires everyone to act.

We have produced guidance for anyone who wants to improve the energy efficiency of a traditional or historic building. There are good reasons for doing this, including lowering carbon emissions and fuel bills, and often making the building more comfortable to live or work in. It is also part of living more sustainably.

Here are a few simple tips to increase energy efficiency that you can act on today to help get you started:

  • keep your building in a good state of repair - A well-maintained, dry building is much easier and cheaper to heat
  • understand your heating system and its controls.  This will help you to use it most efficiently. Studies show that this can have a larger impact on reducing emissions than changes to the fabric of the building. Arrange for your boiler to be regularly serviced and adjusted to maximise its efficiency
  • turn down the thermostat by 1 degree centigrade. In a centrally-heated home this may reduce your heating energy by 10% or more each year.
  • switch to lower-carbon energy supplies
  • switch off devices at the mains when not in use, rather than switching to standby British Gas research suggests that this could save up to 23% on electricity bills
  • don’t leave chargers plugged into your devices once they are fully charged
  • reduce waste For example, waiting until your dishwasher or washing machine are full before putting them on and only boiling as much water as you need   
  • install draught proofing. This is one of the most cost-effective ways of reducing your energy bills and making your building more comfortable. Make sure you maintain enough ventilation to prevent moisture building up, and to ensure a healthy indoor environment.
  • install loft insulation, but think about the materials you use. Like all building materials, insulation has what is known as ‘embodied carbon’ – the CO2 associated with its manufacture and transport.  Choosing materials with low embodied carbon reduces environmental impacts.
  • refurbish or replace missing shutters, add curtains and blinds Modified shutters with insulation can reduce heat loss by 60% when closed. With secondary glazing this increases to 77%  

“How to Improve Energy Efficiency in Historic Buildings” is guidance aimed at owners and managers of historic buildings. It describes a ‘whole building approach’ to devising and implementing energy efficiency improvements that:

  • avoid harming the significance of the building
  • are effective, cost efficient, proportionate and sustainable
  • ensure a healthy and comfortable environment for occupants, and
  • minimise the risk of unintended consequences.

It considers the factors that influence levels of energy use in historic buildings and explains the whole building energy planning process in detail. It also includes checklists of energy efficiency measures that might be suitable as part of this approach, with links to sources of more detailed technical information on upgrading building elements such as roofs, walls and floors.

There is a widely held view that older buildings are not energy efficient and must be radically upgraded to improve their performance. In practice, the situation is more complicated, and assumptions about poor performance are not always justified. Even so, the energy and carbon performance of most buildings can be improved. And small savings quickly add up.