New homes are usually built to high energy efficiency standards. They are cosy in the winter and don’t cost a lot to heat. But older homes can be draughty and energy bills often soar in colder months.
Add to this the challenge of climate change. The UK’s 29 million homes are responsible for around 14% of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions. So, in order to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and tackle climate change, almost all housing needs some form of retrofit.
When a home is retrofitted, changes are made to increase its energy efficiency. That might include fitting solid wall or loft insulation; installing new windows or doors; improving the heating system; adding draught-proofing or putting in new ventilation or solar panels. There are a wide range of options available.
Some people retrofit their homes in stages, others in one ‘big bang’. We recommend taking a ‘whole-house approach’, whether you’re doing it all in one go or step-by-step. This 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. Taking this approach can help you to avoid unintended consequences and the need for re-work. It can also support your home in becoming ‘zero carbon ready’.
The impact of improvements can be huge. In a previous retrofit programme run by Carbon Co-op, householders told us that retrofitting had made their homes feel more modern and attractive. They thought that the works felt like an investment in their properties.
They also said it had improved health conditions such as allergies, asthma and eczema, as well as their own mental health and wellbeing. We heard that they enjoyed spending more time at home and felt happier with their property.
Householders told us that their energy bills had reduced by an average of £600 per year. They reported that their homes were cosier, they heated up quicker and cooled more slowly. Air quality improved and chilly, unloved rooms were warm and well-used again.