What can you do to make an old cold home a cosy home?
Posted by NEF Gordon on 24 August 2016 at 1:45 pm
AgeUK estimate every winter in England and Wales 25,000 older people living in poorly heated homes succumb to the cold. The onslaught of cold conditions can often take many by surprise and can leave us feeling poorly prepared and suffering as a result. Leicester homeowner, Zina Zelter, believes that we have a moral duty to insulate our homes for the wellbeing of future generations. Her experience shows us how improving the energy efficiency of our homes can help keep our homes much warmer whilst using less energy and saving on annual fuel bills.
A resident of Leicester for 15 years, Zina has gradually transformed a cold solid wall 1930s semi-detached home into a warm and cosy home. She has achieved this whilst earning a modest annual income and living on a lean budget. Early on Zina installed a new condensing boiler, draught-proofing and both underfloor and loft insulation which provided a cheap and effective way of reducing the amount of heat from escaping to the outside. Then she installed internal wall insulation on the external walls of the kitchen and bedroom. Taking in tenants helped cover the cost of the work, as did the discount offered by a local builder to a group of local green renovators.
Zina suggests talking to people who have already had the work done, like members of green groups such as Leicester Footpaths. Taking their advice, she continued to wrap up her home with external wall insulation which has become her favourite feature, receiving lots of compliments from the neighbours! She also switched four windows for triple glazing and installed secondary glazing on two others, so now mould on window frames is a thing of the past! A new thick carpet in the bedroom has added the final insulating touch.
Zina says “the house feels much warmer even when heated to the same air temperature as before the work was done. It’s also much drier, and as a result what was a mould problem is no longer apparent.”
Although insulation is the star of the show, a number of other technologies have become part of Zina’s green investment, including solar PV panels providing renewable electricity and feed-in tariff income for Zina for the solar electricity produced or exported to the National Grid.
Zina continues: “The photovoltaics generate considerably more energy than the house uses in a year, and I only spend about £300 per year on gas and electricity combined”.
Rainwater is gathered and stored to water plants when needed and, unusually, rather than use a fridge-freezer Zina instead uses cold tiles and an outdoor shed to store vegetables. Zina has made a number of additional changes to her lifestyle including travelling less and eliminating meat, fish and diary from her diet.
Collectively all the home improvements have resulted in a 70% reduction in the property’s carbon emissions, qualifying Zina’s house for SuperHome status.
You can join a free tour of Zina’s house on Friday 9 September or Sunday 11 September as part of SuperHome Open Days.
SuperHomes is a rapidly expanding network of pioneering homeowners which are redefining green living. All have refurbished their old homes to the highest standards of energy efficiency. 50 SuperHomes will open across the UK this September providing great insights into how you can green your own home. To find out more about SuperHomes or to reserve a place on a tour, see www.superhomes.org.uk
AgeUK (2014) ‘Older, Not Colder - Why Older People Need Warm Homes’
Written by Sam Tonge
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