‘Whole-house’ is a term used a lot in retrofit. But what does it actually mean and why is it so important?

Taking a ‘whole house approach’ means making changes in a joined-up way, considering the junctions between measures and thinking about the potential impact of works on each other and the whole home. This helps to avoid unintended consequences or the need for re-work. When done in a planned way, retrofit can help you make your home “zero carbon ready”.

Many people don’t want to retrofit their property all at once. Maybe they don’t have the budget, or they want to avoid the disruption and the risk. They can still take a whole-house approach, considering the implications of measures together rather than in isolation, even if they don’t deliver them all at once.

Marion Lloyd-Jones, of the People Powered Retrofit team, explains how to take a whole-house approach:

Think of your home as a combination of interacting systems that all affect its capacity for energy performance.

When you’re making your plan, try to consider a broad range of factors, not just energy use or bill savings. For instance:

  • What is your current level of comfort and where do you want it to be?
  • What about ventilation and air quality?
  • What are the maintenance needs of your property? What needs updating or fixing and how regularly?
  • How about the aesthetics of your home? What do you want it to look like?
  • How does its history and heritage affect your retrofit plans?
  • What’s the energy use of all your appliances – not just those covered by building regulations?

Developing a holistic understanding of your home in this way helps to assess the retrofit improvements you are planning and how they will interact. Will these improvements join up and complement each other rather than working against each other? How can you plan them in an organised, logical sequence? Taking time to consider these questions will give you a rounded view and help to reduce the risk of negative, unintended consequences.

When you have this type of whole-house plan you can then decide how you want to deliver it. You may opt to do everything all at once or choose to do the work in stages.

Marion Lloyd-Jones, People Powered Retrofit

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