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How can we tackle decarbonisation of heating in existing homes?
Question
Today’s best in class building and heating technologies provide many answers to the question – how will we tackle decarbonisation of heating in existing homes? Read our blog and comment below to let us know how we can embrace ‘best practice’, become an expert at it, and tell everyone that ‘good enough’ isn’t good enough anymore.
11 Replies
Simon Barker
875 Posts
It's all very well using better boilers with better control systems.  But it doesn't get round the problem that British housing stock is old and poorly insulated  Government schemes to address that have been shambolic, and haven't achieved much.

Even on new builds, enforcement of building regulations is pretty poor.  Housebuilders will build one house on an estate to meet regulations, then claim all the others are just the same, without any testing being carried out.
mapj1
3509 Posts
The easier solution is not to heat the houses, but to lag the people, in a jump back to the methods of a previous era, we could wear thicker pyjamas at night and more generally wear jumpers indoors, it is a lot cheaper and less wasteful of resources. There is no need to heat the whole house to a temp where you can walk around in your underwear and not feel cold.
This light-hearted sketch purports to show the effect of global warming, but what it  really demonstrates is increasing personal fuel consumption in recent times.

Mike

Mike.
Zoomup
2897 Posts
Plant a tree.

Z.
Hi Simon
The article does mention the importance of insulation and double glazing, the 'fabric first' approach is well established and should always be addressed irrespective of the heating system. Indeed to obtain Domestic RHI payments the assessors will insist on improvements to an acceptable standard before approving the grants.
Rob 
Love it Mike

Rob
Zoomup:
Plant a tree.

Z.

Indeed, need to do that too. But trees take a few decades to become effective carbon sinks. We can stop producing the pollution today by simple changes to our homes and behaviours.

Rob

mapj1
3509 Posts
A second more serious point, and it aligns with Simon's more or less, is that we may well be better off persuading govt to invest in boring chemical research to say find ways to make aerogel-like insulation in bulk, and better insulating fabrics for curtains rather than spending millions on  fancy computerised what-nots that allow you to be cloud connected so you can run a bath from the other side of the  planet, and the software will be out of support in 5 years, long before any modest saving has paid back..
"Negawatts"  of not needing the heating turned on at all are worth far more than millisecond precision remote controls.
The use of heat reflecting paints and surface treatments  is a similar totally non-sexy but necessary thing to be done.

The article in the original link sort of sets off on the wrong foot in my  opinion - buildings will be demolished and rebuilt over a period of centuries, maybe rather more in the UK and less in places like the US, and insulation upgrades need to  be cost effective over a decade or two, (see the other post on overprice passivhaus ) the only instant win that most working folk, especially those in rented accommodation can do within  a time-scale of perhaps a year  is a change of clothes.

Mike.

(and beware of forcing landlords to upgrade - the money to do that has to come from the tenants, the poorer of whom will then have to move to colder cheaper accommodation if the rent goes  up suddenly )
Zoomup
2897 Posts
Robert Whitney:
Zoomup:
Plant a tree.

Z.

Indeed, need to do that too. But trees take a few decades to become effective carbon sinks. We can stop producing the pollution today by simple changes to our homes and behaviours.

Rob

Don't trees naturally produce CO2 at night and Oxygen during the day? Do you really think that CO2 is "pollution"?

Z.

Roger Bryant
305 Posts
As others on here have said the real problem is Britain's housing design and expectations. Individual houses with solid or possibly cavity walls are not a good start.  If you look at the continental building styles, especially in the colder lands, multiple occupancy homes are the norm. This immediately reduces the surface area to volume ratio. Our apartment has two external surfaces. The other 4 surface are 'insulated' by other apartments.

The structure is usually a mixture of brick and concrete (wood in some areas) with a thick external layer of insulation (20-30cm) and then a hard waterproof skin. This allow the heavy structure to act as a heat buffer (in summer and winter)

Heating is usually by a wood or oil fired boiler serving all the apartments or sometimes a link to  a district heating scheme. A bigger boiler is generally more efficient, once again a better surface area to volume ratio.

How could we acheive something like this in Britain? Could we move peoples mindsets away from my home is my castle? Could we change the various building regulations to encourage an efficient build?
Thanks for this, ill be wearing lots of layers now and save a huge amount on money and CO2 emissions!

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