New house - what green solution would you do?

Use this board for general non-cycling-related chat, or to introduce yourself to the forum.
Tangled Metal
Posts: 7150
Joined: 13 Feb 2015, 8:32pm

New house - what green solution would you do?

Postby Tangled Metal » 12 Aug 2020, 9:26am

We are selling our house and moving to a new village. Not found the house we're in the middle of the process but I'm thinking of doing what I can for the environment with the new house. I wondered what you'd do if you were moving into a new house and expecting to live there at least 10 years.

Would you put in solar cells of electrical or hot water kind? Would you instead insulate to the nth degree? How about air source or ground source heating?

This might be academic question for us since we might be at our limit with the house we buy.

User avatar
Paulatic
Posts: 5374
Joined: 2 Feb 2014, 1:03pm
Location: 24 Hours from Lands End

Re: New house - what green solution would you do?

Postby Paulatic » 12 Aug 2020, 9:47am

In order of preference
Buy a house with windows which can capture at least morning and midday sun
Insulate to the nth degree
Look at your hot water useage and see if solar can save you money.
GSHP our of question unless you’ve land
Whatever I am, wherever I am, this is me. This is my life

https://stcleve.wordpress.com/category/lejog/

Tangled Metal
Posts: 7150
Joined: 13 Feb 2015, 8:32pm

Re: New house - what green solution would you do?

Postby Tangled Metal » 12 Aug 2020, 10:42am

The average UK house has an EPC rating of 60 which is a D. Round here most houses have a D rating with C the best it can get. However from what I know of the assessors they don't look any deeper than what they can see? If the house is older than a certain age they assume no cavity insulation for example. If your loft is boarded up for storage then they assume there's no insulation there. Basically they guess a lot?

Then the improvements that get recommended have standard benefits and costs. It's a ticklish requirement to sell your house with very little benefit IMHO. It's a wasted opportunity to actually find out what a house really is and what you can do to it. I'm these times when things really need to happen it's a mistake to b have a half @rsed survey like this. There should be full inspection and real world costings and benefits. Plus any grant that is available not the simple statement that you should look into the possibility of grants.

User avatar
simonineaston
Posts: 3601
Joined: 9 May 2007, 1:06pm
Location: Live at a cricket ground

Re: New house - what green solution would you do?

Postby simonineaston » 12 Aug 2020, 10:52am

Two thoughts: one, do as much as you can for the environment - factor into the budget such infrastructure mods for lower power consumption / generation as are appropriate given location, pp etc. and then live there 10 years (God willing...) feeling smug and care-free, content in knowledge that you've "done your bit". Or two, consider that the die is cast, the world lies in uncoordinated chaos, quai sera, sera, and move to nicest house you can find, irrespective of "green credentials" and get on with enjoying the rest of your lives as much as you possibly can.
All boils down to whether or not you have kids...
byyeee,
SiE

Elizabeth_S
Posts: 203
Joined: 27 May 2013, 3:18pm
Location: Dunblane

Re: New house - what green solution would you do?

Postby Elizabeth_S » 12 Aug 2020, 11:27am

We have double glazing, cavity wall, are south facing so get allot of sun to warm up the house, we can't do much more, such as solar panels, as we are 1 a half storey. Newish gas central heating, house is pretty warm in winter and we keep the temperature set on the heating at 19 C, 20 C if it's cold daytime, much cooler at night. Before we did this the house was cold and it all made a big difference. Only thing I really wanted/added to the house was a laundry/storage room, which is fantastic, don't like laundry in the kitchen. Haven't insulated under the floor, but that can be problematic, and in any case we have carpets and good underlay.
So insulation is the best solution and you can do it yourself (we got the cavity walls done on some sort of government thing).

kwackers
Posts: 14811
Joined: 4 Jun 2008, 9:29pm
Location: Warrington

Re: New house - what green solution would you do?

Postby kwackers » 12 Aug 2020, 12:22pm

Insulation is always the first shout.
Mine was already insulated but only to about 4", I increased this to around 12" and got around a 10% saving (it's a bungalow so large surface area and living areas under the roof space make roof insulation doubly important).
I already have cavity wall and double glazing so nothing to do there.

Smart heating system - particularly one that can zone rooms separately (this reduced my gas bill by 30% over and above using thermostatic valves). Bedrooms stay cold until late evening, lounge stays cold until early evening. Hall and workroom warm up in the morning, bathrooms early morning and then reduce temp for the rest of the day etc etc.
Obviously doesn't work for open plan areas but works surprisingly well even where doors are left open.

Check for draughts and fix those (my lecky provider will lend you a thermal camera for free which is handy for a good poke around in the winter).

It's possible to get solar fitted now so cheaply that it's almost a no brainer, although there are some tariffs (Octopus Agile for example) that can be so cheap when wind/solar is plentiful that it can reduce the appeal of solar so I'd allow for that.
With smart tariffs you can also adapt your lecky use such that you tend to run mainly from surplus energy anyway rather than loading the grid. (Occasionally they'll even pay you to use electricity!).
I use 'smart' devices to figure out when and how to heat water and charge my car based on electricity prices which reduces the appeal of solar for me - at least until my roof needs replacing which it will apparently do in the next 10 years, plus there are some interesting technologies on the way which could make solar even greener, more efficient and cheaper.

I'm not convinced by air source heating - mainly because there seems to be some conflict on how effective even ground source heating is - but if you're only there for 10 years then there's no way you'd recover the cost of ground source or probably air source either. You *might* just about recover the cost of a new more efficient boiler providing the existing one isn't too new.
Whilst air/ground source heating is more efficient you switch from cheap gas to expensive electric so the savings aren't necessarily all they're cracked up to be - although again "smart tariffs" may help, although I don't yet have enough experience of them to know what sort of saving you'd get when used to run the compressor on a such a system.

User avatar
al_yrpal
Posts: 8819
Joined: 25 Jul 2007, 9:47pm
Location: Cully
Contact:

Re: New house - what green solution would you do?

Postby al_yrpal » 12 Aug 2020, 12:55pm

Our house was built in 1820. Its warm in winter and cool in summer. As its listed and single glazed throughout there arent many options we can choose except insulating above the second floor and thats pretty difficult as the house has two roofs one with a more recent roof above it. The utility bill is horrendous but its a lovely old house with a huge garden that we have transformed in the lockdown. Personally I wouldnt choose where to live on the basis of eco things. We have thermostatic valves everwhere which were jammed when we moved in and I have been going round unjamming them. I have switched to Octopus too which will bring the utility bill down by about £1400.

Life is too short. Our house exists, someone has to live in it.

Al
Touring on a bicycle is a great way to explore and appreciate the countryside and towns you pass through. Make a difference...

Tangled Metal
Posts: 7150
Joined: 13 Feb 2015, 8:32pm

Re: New house - what green solution would you do?

Postby Tangled Metal » 12 Aug 2020, 1:18pm

You say zoned heating, what is the sensor that controls that? One in each room or is it as simple as turning down the thermostatic valve on each radiator?

Our current house is a 1900 terraced with solid stone front walls. The rear are cavity but I'm not in sure how much space there is for insulation there. Not many houses have cavity insulation if any. What's interesting is the potential benefits the EPC report gave. It's 60 dead on average and at best it can only just go from middle D to only just in C. Our house has studied A+8 or +10 double glazing, the best you could get without triple glazing which there were issues with in our house. AAA rated boiler and radiators we also put in. When I put in the central heating it was a big saving and improvement over economy 7 storage heating. Then the windows meant the radiators rarely got warm. Initially the heating warms the house when we get in and turn it on. Then it's virtually off all night. That's the effect of our windows.

I'm thinking that around here the housing stock isn't great for energy efficiency. There's not many new builds around where we're going. There's possibly a lot better the year they increased the insulation requirements for new builds. A good rating is C with D or E being more common. A lot more photovoltaic cells going up though.

Tangled Metal
Posts: 7150
Joined: 13 Feb 2015, 8:32pm

Re: New house - what green solution would you do?

Postby Tangled Metal » 12 Aug 2020, 1:40pm

I've got an aunt who moved to France and there's a fair few cases of farms return new builds next door to the original, old house which had been abandoned. AIUI a lot of French prefer newer houses but the older ones are popular with English ex pats.

I'm late 40s so hopefully life isn't too short to make some improvements worthwhile. My partner knows someone from Bristol through her job that lives in a big, old house. They cannot afford to heat it all despite having been high flying surgeons and consultants on big pay packets. They live in their large kitchen. It has a large cottage table and sofas / lounge areas. Everywhere else is with the radiators turned off if indeed they have one. They simply live with what they have. Personally I couldn't live where you have no choice on improvements or even a fairly efficientky house.

User avatar
squeaker
Posts: 3693
Joined: 12 Jan 2007, 11:43pm
Location: Sussex

Re: New house - what green solution would you do?

Postby squeaker » 12 Aug 2020, 1:54pm

Tangled Metal wrote:We are selling our house and moving to a new village. Not found the house we're in the middle of the process but I'm thinking of doing what I can for the environment with the new house. I wondered what you'd do if you were moving into a new house and expecting to live there at least 10 years.
Make sure it was a Passivhaus? :roll: (EPC is a cost, and form, based measure - not good for minimising carbon production.)

PS: I wouldn't put too much faith in any new house built to current regs either... :shock:
"42"

kwackers
Posts: 14811
Joined: 4 Jun 2008, 9:29pm
Location: Warrington

Re: New house - what green solution would you do?

Postby kwackers » 12 Aug 2020, 2:58pm

Tangled Metal wrote:You say zoned heating, what is the sensor that controls that? One in each room or is it as simple as turning down the thermostatic valve on each radiator?

Our current house is a 1900 terraced with solid stone front walls. The rear are cavity but I'm not in sure how much space there is for insulation there. Not many houses have cavity insulation if any. What's interesting is the potential benefits the EPC report gave. It's 60 dead on average and at best it can only just go from middle D to only just in C. Our house has studied A+8 or +10 double glazing, the best you could get without triple glazing which there were issues with in our house. AAA rated boiler and radiators we also put in. When I put in the central heating it was a big saving and improvement over economy 7 storage heating. Then the windows meant the radiators rarely got warm. Initially the heating warms the house when we get in and turn it on. Then it's virtually off all night. That's the effect of our windows.

I'm thinking that around here the housing stock isn't great for energy efficiency. There's not many new builds around where we're going. There's possibly a lot better the year they increased the insulation requirements for new builds. A good rating is C with D or E being more common. A lot more photovoltaic cells going up though.

Zoned heating is fairly easy.

There's a central controller that handles the boiler and water zoning then you simply swap the thermostatic valves on the radiators for 'smart' ones.
I used a Honeywell Evohome but there are others out there.

From the controller (or app) you can set schedules per room just like you would for a full house on a normal controller.

pwa
Posts: 13008
Joined: 2 Oct 2011, 8:55pm

Re: New house - what green solution would you do?

Postby pwa » 12 Aug 2020, 4:59pm

One easy little thing you can do with a simple roof space that is boarded for storage is to temporarily remove the boards then significantly increase the depth of the horizontal timbers the boards fix to, and fill the space with an increased depth of insulation. A bit fiddly and sweaty, but nothing more than basic woodworking skills required. The remaining storage area and headroom will be reduced, of course.

Do the easy and obvious stuff with insulation first. Be careful and take advice with the cavity stuff, as it sometimes results in damp.

kwackers
Posts: 14811
Joined: 4 Jun 2008, 9:29pm
Location: Warrington

Re: New house - what green solution would you do?

Postby kwackers » 12 Aug 2020, 7:27pm

pwa wrote:One easy little thing you can do with a simple roof space that is boarded for storage is to temporarily remove the boards then significantly increase the depth of the horizontal timbers the boards fix to, and fill the space with an increased depth of insulation. A bit fiddly and sweaty, but nothing more than basic woodworking skills required. The remaining storage area and headroom will be reduced, of course.

I did that, but what I did was simply put 2x8 cross members at 90 degrees to the main joists rather than run them with the joists. I figured it would spread any load from all the junk I keep up there, I also thought putting one layer of insulation at right angles to the other would be a good thing...

There are also various 'things' available from plastic legs to metal rails to do similar at more cost though.

paddler
Posts: 171
Joined: 8 Oct 2017, 9:13am

Re: New house - what green solution would you do?

Postby paddler » 12 Aug 2020, 8:40pm

kwackers wrote:
Tangled Metal wrote:You say zoned heating, what is the sensor that controls that? One in each room or is it as simple as turning down the thermostatic valve on each radiator?

Our current house is a 1900 terraced with solid stone front walls. The rear are cavity but I'm not in sure how much space there is for insulation there. Not many houses have cavity insulation if any. What's interesting is the potential benefits the EPC report gave. It's 60 dead on average and at best it can only just go from middle D to only just in C. Our house has studied A+8 or +10 double glazing, the best you could get without triple glazing which there were issues with in our house. AAA rated boiler and radiators we also put in. When I put in the central heating it was a big saving and improvement over economy 7 storage heating. Then the windows meant the radiators rarely got warm. Initially the heating warms the house when we get in and turn it on. Then it's virtually off all night. That's the effect of our windows.

I'm thinking that around here the housing stock isn't great for energy efficiency. There's not many new builds around where we're going. There's possibly a lot better the year they increased the insulation requirements for new builds. A good rating is C with D or E being more common. A lot more photovoltaic cells going up though.

Zoned heating is fairly easy.

There's a central controller that handles the boiler and water zoning then you simply swap the thermostatic valves on the radiators for 'smart' ones.
I used a Honeywell Evohome but there are others out there.

From the controller (or app) you can set schedules per room just like you would for a full house on a normal controller.


Don't you need to alter the pipe work a bit and add mechanical valves for zoning?

Dave

philvantwo
Posts: 1096
Joined: 8 Dec 2012, 6:08pm

Re: New house - what green solution would you do?

Postby philvantwo » 12 Aug 2020, 8:56pm

I wouldn't have a new house! All they are are gripfill, MDF and chipboard. A lot of housebuilders don't even skim the walls now, just tape and fill the joints!