£50,000 to up­grade the house that heats it­self

The Daily Telegraph - Your Money - - YOUR MONEY -

This cou­ple have gone to ex­treme lengths to in­su­late one of their prop­er­ties – in­clud­ing mak­ing it ‘air­tight’. Olivia Rudgard re­ports

Bri­tain’s houses may be among the least en­er­gy­ef­fi­cient in Europe, but the lat­est tech­nol­ogy en­ables new­build houses to use less en­ergy than ever. Some ar­chi­tects are even cre­at­ing houses that are de­signed to cost noth­ing at all to heat. Homes built to a stan­dard called “Pas­sivhaus” use ex­treme lev­els of in­su­la­tion, re­cy­cled heat and “air­tight­ness” to re­duce heat­ing bills to al­most zero.

It doesn’t come cheap, though, and fewer peo­ple are likely to ben­e­fit be­cause of the can­cel­la­tion of gov­ern­ment sub­si­dies such as the Green Deal, ex­perts say.

When Pete and Linda Wilkin­son from Lan­cashire de­cided to re­fur­bish their buy-to-let prop­erty, they could have car­ried out the es­sen­tial im­prove­ments for about £15,000. In­stead they de­cided to go all out and spend £50,000 on mak­ing the three-bed­room home one of the most en­ergy-ef­fi­cient in the coun­try.

This in­volved new win­dows and doors, special wall and win­dow in­su­la­tion, min­eral-wool roof in­su­la­tion and car­pet in­su­la­tion.

Mr Wilkin­son, 54, runs an ar­chi­tec­tural, build­ing and re­new­able en­ergy busi­ness and em­barked on the re­fur­bish­ment to show what could be achieved with a high level of in­vest­ment.

The cou­ple’s own home has a wood-pel­let-fired boiler and so­lar pan­els on the roof.

The cou­ple’s rental prop­erty needed se­ri­ous re­fur­bish­ment any­way. Rewiring, a new kitchen and new win­dows and doors were all re­quired.

Had these changes been made to con­ven­tional stan­dards the cost would have been around £15,000. The high-spec­i­fi­ca­tion en­er­gy­ef­fi­ciency el­e­ments added about £36,000 to the bill.

The re­fur­bish­ment in­cluded special in­su­la­tion in the walls and around the doors and win­dows, in­su­la­tion in the roof and tripleglazed win­dows.

The Wilkin­sons also added a new stair­case made from red­wood cer­ti­fied by the For­est Ste­ward­ship Coun­cil as sus­tain­able.

A me­chan­i­cal ven­ti­la­tion sys­tem with heat re­cov­ery was also in­stalled. This ex­tracts warmth from air fil­tered from inside the house and trans­fers it to air be­ing brought into the house from out­side. It is de­signed to re­duce the amount of en­ergy needed to keep the house warm.

The to­tal cost for all the work was £51,890. The most ex­pen­sive el­e­ment, at £10,539, was in­stalling triple-glazed win­dows and sur­round­ing in­su­la­tion.

In­stalling wall in­su­la­tion cost £7,141 and paint­ing the house with nat­u­ral oil paint cost £5,627, in­clud­ing labour.

The £51,890 was split al­most evenly be­tween ma­te­rial costs and labour costs.

A full cost break­down can be seen in the ta­ble be­low.

Mr Wilkin­son es­ti­mated that the an­nual gas and elec­tric­ity bill for the house was just £200.

Ac­cord­ing to UK Power, a com­par­i­son ser­vice, the av­er­age an­nual en­ergy bill for a medium-size house is £1,066. This means that the Wilkin­sons’ ten­ants save around £866 a year.

The cou­ple es­ti­mated that the ef­fi­ciency el­e­ment of the re­fur­bish­ment cost around £36,000.

As a re­sult, it would take 41 years for the oc­cu­pants to save enough on en­ergy costs for them to break even

‘In fu­ture there will be an in­creas­ing mar­ket for prop­er­ties like this’

on the ini­tial out­lay. How­ever, Mr Wilkin­son said in­vest­ment on this scale was de­signed for the long run.

“It’s a long-term strat­egy so that we can pro­vide a low-en­ergy build­ing for ten­ants,” he said.

“We should be aim­ing to re­duce peo­ple’s costs over the life­time of the build­ing, not nec­es­sar­ily just for the time that they’ll live there.”

They also hope that the mea­sures will im­prove the long-term value of the house.

“In the fu­ture there will be an in­creas­ing mar­ket for prop­er­ties like this be­cause en­ergy isn’t get­ting cheaper, it’s get­ting more ex­pen­sive,” Mr Wilkin­son said.

“Just over the past few years it has got dis­pro­por­tion­ately more ex­pen­sive to heat your home.”

Adopt­ing the Pas­sivhaus stan­dard used by the Wilkin­sons is an ex­treme


Work De­mo­li­tion and strip­ping out ex­ist­ing fit­tings Re­me­dial works to ex­ist­ing struc­ture Ex­ter­nal wall in­su­la­tion and air­tight­ness Min­eral wool in­su­la­tion, plas­ter­board and adding plas­ter coat to par­ti­tions Ground floor in­su­la­tion and bam­boo floor­ing First floor and ceil­ings: adding min­eral wool in­su­la­tion to par­ti­tions £1,600 First floor ceil­ings: adding air­tight­ness/in­su­la­tion £2,813 New stair­case/ balustrade in sus­tain­able red­wood £1,932 Triple-glazed win­dows/doors, in­su­lated frames £10,539 Plumb­ing/heat­ing in­stal­la­tion inc new combi boiler, pipework and ra­di­a­tors £1,886 New shower and bath £749 In­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal low-en­ergy light fit­tings £1,789 Me­chan­i­cal ven­ti­la­tion with heat re­cov­ery sys­tem £2,919 Kitchen in­stal­la­tion (not in­clud­ing ap­pli­ances) £3,504 Dec­o­rat­ing with nat­u­ral oil paints £5,627 To­tal cost £51,890

Cost £3,340 £910 £7,141

£5,676 £1,465

Pete and Linda Wilkin­son out­side their own home and, left, their rental prop­erty, which is one of the most en­er­gy­ef­fi­cient in the coun­try

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