Homeowners Professionals

How to make an old home more energy efficient

The UK is a country that’s steeped in history and is home to some of the most famous architectural attractions and buildings, from Big Ben to Westminster Abbey and Stonehenge to York Minster. Its long history means that there is an abundance of buildings that are over 100 years old. In fact, the Victorians were responsible for building around six million terraced houses in the UK that were meant for local workers who were moving to the city from the country. While most of these have since been demolished, there are still around five million historic homes that continue to be used as domestic dwellings.

But these older homes are generally less energy efficient than their newer counterparts. Their age means that there may be large gaps in the floorboards, a lack of wall insulation and single glazing instead of the now-standard double or triple glazing. Many people in the UK are beginning to understand the importance of making their homes more energy efficient. Not only is using less energy more beneficial for the planet, it also means you won’t have to pay as much each month on your gas or electric bills. But when your home is very old, it can be difficult to ensure it’s running as energy efficiently as possible. Keep reading to discover tips that could help you make your property better at retaining heat.


Replace the windows and doors

Many older houses will have windows that were originally built with wooden frames and thin panes of glass. There was no double glazing back then and materials such as aluminium and plastic were either not available or too expensive. You may therefore benefit from having new windows and doors fitted that will be more effective at keeping the heat in your home. If you’re worried that they’ll stand out and won’t be in keeping with other original features in the property, you can have double glazing that is in a period style and is designed to fit in despite being brand new. If you’re in a conservation area, just check with your local planning department in case there are any restrictions in terms of the materials that you can use.

Increase the insulation

Insulation is hugely important in order to prevent heat from escaping. If your heating system is working hard to warm up the radiators and this heat is being lost too quickly, the system will need to work even harder to replace it. If this is the case, you’ll probably be able to feel cold spots or draughts in your home and might even find that certains  rooms, such as your bathroom, are especially cold. The less heat that is lost, the better. Therefore, good quality insulation is a must.  

What is the best way to insulate an old house?

Most homes need to be able to breathe to avoid moisture and damp from becoming an issue. An experienced home insulation specialist can help provide the best insulation solution for your property.

Older homes used to be built differently, with no damp proof course which would stop rising damp, but they did have breathable walls that allowed the rain to be absorbed so it could evaporate later. Single glazed windows and air bricks allowed for natural ventilation. This means that if you were to insulate walls on the outside, any moisture and damp could end up trapped in the property, causing further problems. However, if you insulate the inside of the wall, the outside wall could get colder and it may not be able to dry out.

One of the best ways to insulate an old house is to increase the amount of loft insulation, putting as much good quality insulation in as possible.  

How to insulate an old home

There are multiple ways to insulate an old home aside from increasing your loft insulation which is recognised as the easiest, followed by wall insulation and then double glazing. You could also consider fitting draught excluders to letterboxes and around doors, investing in heavier curtains and filling gaps in wooden panelling. Don’t forget to insulate the loft hatch itself, as a lot of heat can be lost through this gap too. Rugs can be placed on wooden floors to prevent the cold air from coming up through the cracks and into the room.

Update your appliances

You can make your old home more energy efficient by improving the appliances that you have. Newer models tend to be much more efficient and use less energy in order to give you the same results. Appliances in the UK have an energy label to tell the consumer how efficient the unit or product is. Where possible, washing should be hung out on the line in summer to avoid using the tumble dryer and clothes should be washed at 30 ℃.

It’s also important to upgrade to a newer boiler system. A new boiler can be more than 90 per cent efficient, older boilers may have a significantly reduced efficiency of 80 per cent or under.

What is the best heating system for an old house?

There are a variety of heating systems you can choose from to heat your home. Boilers remain the most popular but heat pumps are also an option. However, heat pumps work best in modern homes with good quality insulation and a damp proof course.

For this reason, a gas boiler is likely to be the  best efficiency option  for your old house. Your radiators should regularly be bled and balanced to ensure that their output provides enough heat to avoid cold spots. Underfloor heating may be an option too, as it’ll help to take the chill off cold floor tiles.  

Seal the floorboards

Old homes would originally have floorboards or tiles - carpet was rare and only the wealthy could afford it. This means that many old homes contain bare floorboards, unless these have been covered over in the past. These floorboards can allow a lot of cold air to come up and into your home. It’s a good idea to either place rugs over these areas to stop the cool breeze from penetrating or to fill in the gaps. This can be done with a variety of solutions, either using a thin foam that you push down into the cracks or by filling the gaps with sealant.  

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