Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Keeping warm without costing the earth

Sarah Lonsdale, reporter for the Telegraph, asks if it is possible for an average Victorian terrace to half its energy bills. "I’m in a quiet residential street in Balham, south London. The rows of smart Victorian terraces and semis, with their white stucco work and bay windows are now a desirable design classic. But for a government charged with reducing the nation’s carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, they’re an absolute nightmare. Increasingly, too, for the owners who have to heat these solid-walled, single-paned, airy-lofted, yet rather lovely dinosaurs, they are a growing drain on family finances," said Mrs Lonsdale.

Architect Susan Venner’s has set out to prove she can reduce the environmental impact of her Victorian terrace home. The only visible sign of the project is the cork cladding on the outside end of terrace wall: to be specific, 180mm- deep cork, in two layers fixed with wooden battens up which a few climbing plants have started to move. "This cork cladding has had a massive impact on heating bills, we used it where ever we could. The 130-year-old solid brick walls of these houses let out masses of heat, now 10 times less escapes through this cork," said Mrs Venner.

Other energy-efficient measures that Mrs Venner has introduced include underfloor insulation and newly fitted reclaimed flooring, laid on top of the original wooden floorboards to increase the installation. The reclaimed boards were from a gym at Loughborough University and found on an ad on SalvoWEB!!

"Solar thermal panels on the roof provides hot water for most of the year. Finally, autumn and spring heating is now done with a super-efficient wood-burning stove, licensed for use in smokeless zones, fed with builders’ offcuts and collected wood from Tooting Common. We have very nearly reached the 80% emission reduction we have been striving for." said Mrs Venner


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