Staying warm and comfortable while trying to reduce our energy use is a concern for everyone, particularly with rising fuel bills and so many of us now regularly working from home.

There’s also a looming deadline for many homeowners that could add to these worries. This country has the oldest and coldest housing stock in Europe and our homes use 35% of all the energy in the UK. It’s prompted the government to introduce climate change targets that include proposals to bring all properties up to an EPC band C rating by 2035, to make them more energy efficient. That adds up to about 24 million homes that might need retrofitting.

So just what is retrofit? Put simply, it’s about making changes to existing buildings so that energy consumption and emissions are reduced. Retrofitting improves the energy efficiency of homes, reduces fuel bills and creates comfortable, even temperatures all year round, as well as helping to eliminate draughts. Another great benefit is that these improvements produce a healthier home with cleaner air by eliminating mould and condensation problems. From reducing childhood asthma to cutting levels of depression and anxiety in adults, energy-efficiency upgrades don’t just lower emissions, they can improve our health.

A retrofit typically involves a significant improvement in the thermal performance and comfort of your home by reducing the heat loss through the building fabric – think roof, wall and floor insulation, double or triple glazing and draught-proofing. Interventions such as solar panels, replacing a gas boiler with a ground or air heat-source pump and installing mechanical ventilation with a heat recovery unit can also be undertaken for further reductions to household bills and carbon emissions.

Deciding to do all this would soon add up to a substantial sum of money; you’d probably be looking to spend a minimum of £30,000 – with all the resultant disruptions. However, this work does not all need to be done in one go. Understanding where the main issues are and developing an action plan, most people could start to reduce their energy bills and improve the comfort of their home with a smaller budget. For example, by installing 270mm insulation in an uninsulated loft you’d save on average of £215 each year in a four-bedroom detached house.*

The best way to decide where to start making changes is with an energy assessment, carried out by a professional Chartered Surveyor or Retrofit Assessor, such as Murton & Co. The building’s energy performance would be based on actual measured data by using sensors to record the daily temperature patterns over a three-week period, conduct thermal imaging scans to identify specific areas of heat loss, undertake heat loss calculations on the building fabric and an air leakage test. Armed with that information, you can put an action plan together to fundamentally improve the fabric of your home.

But remember that with retrofitting, one-size doesn’t fit all. While nearly every house would benefit from some green home improvements, each has its own faults and defects – even identical houses in the same street have different issues. A retrofit assessment creates a bespoke solution for your home, including recommendations on which measures are the most cost-effective, would have the most impact and in which order to carry them out. It’s then up to you to decide what to do and when.

Despite retrofitting producing lower bills, warmth and comfort, some homeowners might question whether they’re going to see a return on this investment. If that’s the case, perhaps you could think about green improvements in the way a new fitted kitchen or conservatory adds value to a property. While a new kitchen might not be to everyone’s taste, new buyers would doubtless appreciate wall insulation or solar panels to generate their own electricity and help them spend less in future. An energy-efficient home is an attractive selling point that buyers might well be prepared to pay more for.

When you’re ready to start thinking about future-proofing your home, Murton & Co offers comprehensive home energy assessments. We’ll start you on the road to a successful retrofit, oversee the works and start protecting you against future energy price increases, and giving you that warm glow inside and out!

*which.co.uk/Energy Saving Trust

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