March 21, 2024

Why you should consider retrofitting and is retrofitting worth the Investment?

It is widely accepted that retrofitting our existing buildings is absolutely critical if we are to achieve Net Zero. Our homes use 35% of the UK’s energy and emit 20% of our carbon dioxide emissions. Read more on our what to consider when retrofitting properties.
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What is retrofitting?

Retrofitting an air source heat pump

Retrofitting is the process of improving an existing building's energy efficiency by making it easier to heat, better at retaining heat, and replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy. This can be done through options such as solar panels, insulation, efficient appliances, and smart LED lighting. For the landlord or homeowner it also provides a reduction in carbon emissions.

The UK’s housing sector is under pressure to deliver an extensive retrofit programme to meet the government’s ambitious target of net zero emissions by 2050 and to reduce annual carbon emissions by more than half in the building sector by 2035.

Why retrofit properties?

Are you tired of high energy bills and uncomfortable living conditions? Retrofitting your home could be the solution you need.

Improving their energy efficiency not only makes things better for our environment, it makes your home more comfortable to live in and more cost effective to run.

Other points to mention are

  1. It can be less expensive than building a new property.
  2. It’s a fantastic way to maximise the benefits of existing property fabric.
  3. Retrofitting is an excellent way to adapt your home to changing weather conditions and improve energy efficiency over time.

Retrofitting measures for homes can include:

What are the benefits ofretrofitting?
  • internal works such as draught proofing, and adding insulation between floors, in cavity walls and in roofs.
  • external works such as installing solar or photovoltaic (PV) panels, air-source heat pumps (ASHP), ground source heat pumps, double and triple glazing, external wall insulation, cladding and green roofs

What are the benefits of retrofitting?

As well as environmental benefits, retrofitting can deliver health benefits such as reduced exposure to cold, damp, and poor indoor air quality, and will result in lower energy consumption for occupiers.  

Domestic retrofitting offers many benefits, not just energy savings. When you retrofit your home, it will also become more comfortable, durable, healthier and safer.

Energy and Carbon Savings. In the UK who have some of the oldest property in Europe, residential buildings account for roughly 28% of energy consumption. Many homeowners pay more than necessary for utility bills because of heat lost through drafts and poor insulation. By retrofitting your home, not only will you be able to reduce your energy bills, but you will also contribute to the reduction of national energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions which will help mitigate climate change

Improved Comfort. Many of these homes suffer from cold and drafty rooms in winter and overheating in summer. This leads to a negative impact on home comfort. Retrofitting adopts a whole-house approach which increases the comfort of your entire home by addressing drafts, poor levels of insulation and building defects. Modern equipment and techniques such as infrared thermal imaging and blower door air tests can help to diagnose these problems. 

Greater Building Durability. A whole house retrofit will address inherent building problems such as poor ventilation and a build-up of moisture, which if unaddressed can damage the building structure and finishes. By upgrading the building fabric and services, while also addressing these issues, the life expectancy and durability of the building will be increased. 

Higher Resale Value. As energy costs continue to rise and concerns about climate change become more mainstream, the energy efficiency of a home is becoming more of a factor for buyers.  Potential purchasers are looking for homes which will have lower energy bills as well as the additional benefit of increased comfort, better air quality and durability. 

Better Indoor Air Quality. Inadequate ventilation is common in many homes and often leads to poor indoor air quality which can in turn cause numerous health issues. A whole house retrofit will include a ventilation strategy and necessary upgrades to achieve this. This ensures that there is an adequate source of controlled fresh air intake for breathing and that moist and stale air is moved when and where required.

What are the differences between an EPC and retrofit survey?

Internal retrofits, what to consider

The EPC was launched to measure the energy efficiency of property, it is a non-intrusive survey, that is needed for the sale of residential property. The principal need was to meet the Governments target to become carbon neutral by 2050.

A retrofit assessment is a much more detailed process and will largely benefit older properties that need more complex work to bring them to a better standard of energy performance. It will consider a whole house approach where recommendations made and implemented will work in unison, it will consider the elements of the condition of the property and the occupancy of the property, reflecting on for example patterns of energy use for hot water and heating.

What else to consider when retrofitting?

Retrofit can provide huge benefits. Retrofit for the future shows that a whole house retrofit can provide huge financial, comfort, carbon and social benefits. A good retrofit also helps prevent health risks from damp and mould, reduces the risk of fuel poverty and generates local employment. The reductions in energy use and carbon emissions can be as much as 80%.

Integration gets the best results. Thinking about a house and its residents as a single energy system is complicated. Individual components can seem straightforward but getting them to work together as one system in a house is complex. There are connections between almost all components and each weak link will affect the whole. The best results come from integration, by considering all the interdependencies and getting the details between them right.

Collaborate and communicate. Decisions made at one stage can have significant impacts elsewhere, so excellent communication is critical. Well-delivered projects have clear lines of responsibility across teams who are committed to the retrofit’s objectives. When all parties understand what is required and why, it leads to better results, for instance, in continuity of insulation, meeting airtightness targets, or high-quality installation.

Engage with residents. The people living in the homes should be at the heart of the project and they can be involved in imaginative ways. Involving residents helps the project team to manage expectations, avoid costly misunderstandings and reduce concerns about timescales, mess and disruption. Providing people with handover support and guidance helps them to take responsibility for keeping their home comfortable while also reducing their energy use.

Tailor the retrofit strategy. The scope for ‘one size fits all’ solutions is limited by the variations between existing homes. The most effective retrofits have a full understanding of the house and the residents’ needs before work begins. More cost-effective and replicable methods to achieve this are needed for the growing retrofit market.

Pay close attention to controls. Services (e.g. heating, lighting, ventilation) typically need some control by the residents. The retrofit will deliver better results if people are empowered to make their home environment comfortable all year round.

Project teams should develop an obsession with detail. From engaging with residents and local planners, through to installation and commissioning, an obsession with detail reduces the need for re-work and helps to control the retrofit costs.

How can Summit Environmental help you?

Are you considering a retrofit project and need to consider the impart on your EPC?

Retrofit assessments?


Recommended and trusted contractors?

Asbestos refurbishment surveys before renovation?

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