Home heat efficiency

I know we've discussed this stuff before but if you wanted to get a home assessed for energy efficiency - what would be your first port of call.

Is it better just to make a checklist and do it yourself or are there experts who do this impartially - not trying to flog you whatever it is they install ?

Only I rent out a small semi (bought 6-7 years ago with an inheritance) and the tenant is really worried about her heating bills. I don't mind spending some money if it helps cut her bills down - especially as she wants to stay long term - but I don't really know who offers neutral advice on this stuff and how much I should be paying for it.
[Castle Donington Ladies FC - going up in '22]
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  • davidof
    davidof Posts: 3,056
    edited June 2022



    Only I rent out a small semi (bought 6-7 years ago with an inheritance) and the tenant is really worried about her heating bills. I don't mind spending some money if it helps cut her bills down - especially as she wants to stay long term - but I don't really know who offers neutral advice on this stuff and how much I should be paying for it.


    if you are renting property out you need to have an Energy Performance Certificate, minimum efficiency is currently E and it will be C from 2025. 15K fine if you don't have it.

    The people who do the EPC will give advice on how to achieve a higher rating.

    It is not the tenant but you who should be worried if you don't have it and don't have an exemption of some sort.
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  • N0bodyOfTheGoat
    N0bodyOfTheGoat Posts: 5,897
    davidof said:



    Only I rent out a small semi (bought 6-7 years ago with an inheritance) and the tenant is really worried about her heating bills. I don't mind spending some money if it helps cut her bills down - especially as she wants to stay long term - but I don't really know who offers neutral advice on this stuff and how much I should be paying for it.


    if you are renting property out you need to have an Energy Performance Certificate, minimum efficiency is currently E and it will be C from 2025. 15K fine if you don't have it.

    The people who do the EPC will give advice on how to achieve a higher rating.

    It is not the tenant but you who should be worried if you don't have it and don't have an exemption of some sort.
    Didn't know about the '25 rule, it could create carnage if rules on what is deemed a C don't downgrade, plenty of places up for sale don't meet a C.

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  • laurentian
    laurentian Posts: 2,414
    edited June 2022
    My daughter does EPCs - they're about £100 if memory serves
    Wilier Izoard XP
  • pangolin
    pangolin Posts: 6,419

    My daughter does EPCs - they're about £100 if memory serves

    I am very sceptical of them as tick box exercises without much actual data behind the rating, can you persuade me of their merits at all?
    - Genesis Croix de Fer
    - Dolan Tuono
  • surrey_commuter
    surrey_commuter Posts: 18,867
    most websites say draught proofing give you the biggest bang for your buck
  • laurentian
    laurentian Posts: 2,414
    pangolin said:

    My daughter does EPCs - they're about £100 if memory serves

    I am very sceptical of them as tick box exercises without much actual data behind the rating, can you persuade me of their merits at all?
    They possibly are - she needed a job and took this on with a local company. Goverment say they are needed and she provides the service . . . tick box exercise or otherwise.
    Wilier Izoard XP
  • photonic69
    photonic69 Posts: 2,563
    Contact your local authority or council as they might have a list of inspectors who do this work.
    Also look at the Energy Saving Trust website for useful advice. You can survey your own house to see if these measures are implemented and if so do they meet the standards, if not you can start doing your own upgrades.
    https://energysavingtrust.org.uk/


    Sometimes. Maybe. Possibly.

  • DeVlaeminck
    DeVlaeminck Posts: 8,783
    Yes it's currently rated D so sounds like it'll need some kind of changes anyway - I guess the way to go is find out what it needs to become a C or above.
    [Castle Donington Ladies FC - going up in '22]
  • davidof
    davidof Posts: 3,056

    Yes it's currently rated D so sounds like it'll need some kind of changes anyway - I guess the way to go is find out what it needs to become a C or above.

    D is not bad. There may not be too much to do in that case. What is the current state of loft insulation etc?
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  • rjsterry
    rjsterry Posts: 28,145
    1985 Mercian King of Mercia - work in progress (Hah! Who am I kidding?)
    Pinnacle Monzonite

    Part of the anti-growth coalition
  • DeVlaeminck
    DeVlaeminck Posts: 8,783
    davidof said:

    Yes it's currently rated D so sounds like it'll need some kind of changes anyway - I guess the way to go is find out what it needs to become a C or above.

    D is not bad. There may not be too much to do in that case. What is the current state of loft insulation etc?
    Apparently it could be upgraded to 270 (mm?? )
    [Castle Donington Ladies FC - going up in '22]
  • rjsterry
    rjsterry Posts: 28,145
    After the loft the big one is wall insulation, but this is more challenging to address. Draught proofing is a relatively easy win especially things like redundant chimneys and gaps between floorboards in a suspended floor. Just make sure you maintain sufficient background ventilation.
    1985 Mercian King of Mercia - work in progress (Hah! Who am I kidding?)
    Pinnacle Monzonite

    Part of the anti-growth coalition
  • DeVlaeminck
    DeVlaeminck Posts: 8,783
    Is the wall just a question of cost or are there other issues? I've heard people say it can create a bridge for damp
    [Castle Donington Ladies FC - going up in '22]
  • ugo.santalucia
    ugo.santalucia Posts: 28,300

    most websites say draught proofing give you the biggest bang for your buck

    The flip side of the coin is damp and mould… I used to live in a draft proof flat recently renovated and the windows were constantly getting mouldy… now in a Victorian terraced, quite drafty , but zero problems with mould. Horses for courses, I prefer to pay a bit more but not have to deal with mould

    left the forum March 2023
  • ugo.santalucia
    ugo.santalucia Posts: 28,300

    Is the wall just a question of cost or are there other issues? I've heard people say it can create a bridge for damp

    Cavity insulation on old buildings is best avoided… basically retrofitting is always going to create more problems than it solves

    left the forum March 2023
  • rjsterry
    rjsterry Posts: 28,145

    Is the wall just a question of cost or are there other issues? I've heard people say it can create a bridge for damp

    Depends on the wall. If it's a cavity wall then badly installed blown insulation can cause problems, but the degree of exposure has a bearing, too. If it's a solid wall then consider internal or external insulation, but bear in mind that the existing wall will be permeable to some degree and so the insulation should be permeable as well to avoid trapping moisture. You also want to try to join up insulation in the wall with that in the floor and loft. If there's a gap you'll get a cold spot which will be where you get condensation and potentially mould.
    1985 Mercian King of Mercia - work in progress (Hah! Who am I kidding?)
    Pinnacle Monzonite

    Part of the anti-growth coalition
  • rjsterry
    rjsterry Posts: 28,145

    Is the wall just a question of cost or are there other issues? I've heard people say it can create a bridge for damp

    Cavity insulation on old buildings is best avoided… basically retrofitting is always going to create more problems than it solves

    Old buildings don't usually have cavity walls. Like anything, insulation can be installed well or poorly. Cavity wall insulation is particularly tricky because you can't see whether it's done well or not.
    1985 Mercian King of Mercia - work in progress (Hah! Who am I kidding?)
    Pinnacle Monzonite

    Part of the anti-growth coalition
  • capt_slog
    capt_slog Posts: 3,954
    rjsterry said:



    Old buildings don't usually have cavity walls. Like anything, insulation can be installed well or poorly. Cavity wall insulation is particularly tricky because you can't see whether it's done well or not.

    I once had an argument with a lady in a shopping centre about this. She had stopped me to try and sell cavity wall insulation.

    I explained that my house didn't have cavity walls...

    Sales lady: Of course it has! (accompanied with much rolling of eyes as if she talking to an idiot)

    Me: NO, it hasn't!

    SL: yes it HAS, all houses do.

    Me: Mine hasn't, it's too old

    SL: when was it built then?

    Me: 1890

    SL: Oh, it won't have then (in a manner suggesting why are you wasting my time?)

    WTF?


    The older I get, the better I was.

  • orraloon
    orraloon Posts: 12,878
    True dat. My place for 28 years was built 1870s. Cheapo method of turn the bricks upwards and leave a gap between them. Ties? Yeah, maybe, some, somewhere... What ever could go wrong? There wasn't injected foam added because... There was quite a bit of external concrete render reinforcing. Left there 9 years ago. It is still standing.
  • rjsterry
    rjsterry Posts: 28,145
    edited June 2022
    orraloon said:

    True dat. My place for 28 years was built 1870s. Cheapo method of turn the bricks upwards and leave a gap between them. Ties? Yeah, maybe, some, somewhere... What ever could go wrong? There wasn't injected foam added because... There was quite a bit of external concrete render reinforcing. Left there 9 years ago. It is still standing.

    It's called rat trap bond.
    1985 Mercian King of Mercia - work in progress (Hah! Who am I kidding?)
    Pinnacle Monzonite

    Part of the anti-growth coalition
  • capt_slog
    capt_slog Posts: 3,954
    Every day's a school day :)

    Rat trap bond was a new one on me, and I thought cavity walls were 'modern'.

    Actually, I can't recall which house I was in when the sales lady tried to sell me insulation, but it's irrelevant because I've never had a house with cavity walls. It wasn't the facts that bugged me, more the attitude.

    The news about the EPC is worrying. I had to have one done for my mum's bungalow so that we could rent it out when she moved into a care home. A right faff of a tick box exercise, and getting a higher rating on that place is going to be trial.


    The older I get, the better I was.

  • rjsterry
    rjsterry Posts: 28,145
    Sales, eh? I once had to patiently explain that my roof didn't have an eaves fascia or soffit, and so I wasn't interested in a UPVC replacement. They insisted on a visit where they confirmed within 10 seconds that this was indeed the case.

    I think as a country we are going to have to get used to more significant upgrades to housing. The technology is pretty tried and tested, but until recently it has generally been cheaper to just turn the heating up. Fingers crossed the installation costs come down as it becomes more common.
    1985 Mercian King of Mercia - work in progress (Hah! Who am I kidding?)
    Pinnacle Monzonite

    Part of the anti-growth coalition
  • pangolin
    pangolin Posts: 6,419
    Anyone got strong opinions on ModCell straw construction? Considering buying a place made with it.

    It's this stuff https://www.modcell.com/technical/

    House has some solar panels, mechanical heat recovery ventilation, heat pump (and insulated enough to warrant it), so quite appealing at the moment...

    Not sure yet if it has any mortgage / insurance implications. I have read that you can get both but I don't know if it limits the field.
    - Genesis Croix de Fer
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  • Pross
    Pross Posts: 41,370
    edited August 2022
    RJS is probably the best bet. I find the mortgage market view of anything that isn’t ‘traditional’ a bit bizarre in times when we want more efficient homes and for the whole process to speed up and reduce the housing deficit. That said, things like Grenfell don’t help confidence in alternative materials.
  • Mad_Malx
    Mad_Malx Posts: 5,039
    pangolin said:

    Anyone got strong opinions on ModCell straw construction? Considering buying a place made with it.

    Beware of heavy-breathing wolves
  • rjsterry
    rjsterry Posts: 28,145
    pangolin said:

    Anyone got strong opinions on ModCell straw construction? Considering buying a place made with it.

    It's this stuff https://www.modcell.com/technical/

    House has some solar panels, mechanical heat recovery ventilation, heat pump (and insulated enough to warrant it), so quite appealing at the moment...

    Not sure yet if it has any mortgage / insurance implications. I have read that you can get both but I don't know if it limits the field.

    I'm aware of the product but don't know it well. Looking at the brochure it looks like a fairly standard SIPS (Structural Insulated Panel System) but with straw insulation instead of mineral wool or polyurethane foam. So not actually that unusual. Yes some lenders still anything not made of bricks is some sort of dangerous experiment but I don't think it should be too much of a problem. There is an FAQ page which covers the question of insurance.

    https://www.modcell.com/technical/faqs/
    1985 Mercian King of Mercia - work in progress (Hah! Who am I kidding?)
    Pinnacle Monzonite

    Part of the anti-growth coalition
  • Bought a house in 2012 with "good" energy efficiency.
    Improved the efficiency: low energy lights, loft insulation (there wasn't any), cavity wall insulation (also there wasn't any).
    Sold the house 1yr later due to job change. Different inspector came for the energy certificate: it was "medium".🤣😭

    Check box exercise.
  • pangolin
    pangolin Posts: 6,419
    oxoman said:

    I remember compressed straw walls being used internally late 70s early 80s. Prefinished and very thin, you could hear a mouse fart in the next room. You had to glue socket and switch boxes in using special glue. Horrible to work with, only saw it used on a few sites luckily. Was OK till it got wet, went all soggy mouldy and expanded like mad. But was acceptable for mortgages, don't think insurance companies were so keen though.

    Sounds great XD

    These are 23-40 cm thick
    - Genesis Croix de Fer
    - Dolan Tuono
  • rjsterry
    rjsterry Posts: 28,145
    pangolin said:

    oxoman said:

    I remember compressed straw walls being used internally late 70s early 80s. Prefinished and very thin, you could hear a mouse fart in the next room. You had to glue socket and switch boxes in using special glue. Horrible to work with, only saw it used on a few sites luckily. Was OK till it got wet, went all soggy mouldy and expanded like mad. But was acceptable for mortgages, don't think insurance companies were so keen though.

    Sounds great XD

    These are 23-40 cm thick
    Entirely different thing. Am I right in thinking this is a new build? If so, you may still have some time left on the original warranty - there are a few different schemes but they are all essentially the same idea of a series of inspections during construction, and an insurance backed warranty for X years. If it has 400mm thick walls with that system you will need very little heating at all.
    1985 Mercian King of Mercia - work in progress (Hah! Who am I kidding?)
    Pinnacle Monzonite

    Part of the anti-growth coalition
  • photonic69
    photonic69 Posts: 2,563
    I know the lead researcher on this original project and photographed their test ‘balehaus’ It’s lovely. Really quiet and cosy. Fine if you are happy with all the layout and plumbing/electrical stuff. Might be a pain if you wanted to alter it etc.


    Sometimes. Maybe. Possibly.