Fed up with shivering in a draughty home or quaking at the thought of the next energy bill? It could be time to embark on a retrofit journey, but first there are some questions you should consider in order to save yourself time, money and stress further down the line.
- Why do I want to retrofit?
It may be that you want to make your house warmer and more comfortable, or the walls are plagued by damp, or perhaps you’re simply set on saving the planet. Understanding your motives and priorities can lead to establishing clear objectives that will then shape your retrofit project. Writing down what you want to achieve, with information about every room and with input from every family member, can be a good start.
- Will a retrofit benefit my property?
The ultimate aim should be to improve the level of comfort, ventilation and air quality in your home, so before you get started, it’s important to understand your energy usage. Take accurate meter readings, preferably every month and on the same day each month, as well as the property’s temperature and humidity. Armed with this energy consumption data, you could work out peak heating periods and the findings will also be useful when the work is finished and you want to see how the results compare.
- What is the scope and timescale for my retrofit project?
However tempting it might be to launch into a complete house overhaul, maybe start small and work through each room. Just like any building work, factor in the disruption involved when you’re going to be living in a property and work out what’s sensible and practical. It’s always a good idea to consider fabric first – meaning your building’s walls, floors, roof, windows and doors – before you start changing boilers and adding solar panels as this will make a considerable difference. And before you even start, make sure you’re up-to-date with any maintenance around the house that might impact retrofit work.
- Should I call in an expert?
Although EPCs (Energy Performance Certificates) are a good guide – which you’ll have been given if you bought your house after 2007 – they aren’t the best foundation on which to base a retrofit. Instead, a proper energy assessment by a trained assessor is the way to go, although it’s worth bearing in mind that not all retrofit assessors and co-ordinators are accredited and the scope of assessments can vary; for example, their remit might not always include an air test or thermal imaging.We believe the more quantitative the survey, the more accurate the results, which should ultimately prevent you from going ahead with unnecessary upgrades or for example, not considering adequate ventilation when installing insulation.
- How might I fund a retrofit project?
Government money is filtering down for energy efficiency work, including the recent VAT cuts on renewable materials (down to 0%) and the recent £30 million promised to produce more heat pumps. Ministers have held meetings with mortgage lenders, calling on them to help people make their homes more energy efficient, while its new £10 million Green Finance Accelerator programme should result in more innovative green finance products and more low-interest, home improvement loans (see our previous blog). Interestingly, other countries are already further down this road; for example, the town of Halton Hills in Canada recently launched interest-free loans to help homeowners implement retrofits.However, a quotation for retrofit work can be off-putting so free energy assessments would be one way to engage homeowners. With a typical retrofit assessment costing about £300, the cost to the exchequer would be about £8.4 billion to fund this – less than the recently announced help with energy bills. A recent Murton & Co poll discovered that, perhaps unsurprisingly, 100% of home owners would welcome such a free assessment on their property. If this were to happen, local authorities, mortgage companies and LEAPS could offer the service, ensuring that a framework of assessors were vetted and approved.
Whether this happens or not, the energy efficiency sector is starting to move at such a pace that new initiatives and guidance are coming out every week. Check in regularly with us to keep up.