4.8 out of 5 Stars on TrustPilot

How to Save Energy in an Old Home

Many old homes are not built with energy conservation in mind and can be draughty and expensive to heat and cool. Fortunately, there are ways to retrofit an old home to improve its energy efficiency, without sacrificing its character. This article will explore how external wall insulation, brick slips, and lime render can help save energy in an old home. Combining these facade products can also retain the charm of your old home.

Older homes, particularly those built before the 1920s will tend to be solid walls. Therefore, they only have one layer of bricks or blocks. As such, they will not have insulation leading to significant heat loss. Along with a lack of insulation, the windows are likely to be single-glazed, leading to more heat loss. Over time, buildings can develop gaps and cracks due to natural settling, wear and tear, and changes in building materials. These air leaks can lead to drafts, as cold air infiltrates the home and warm air escapes. The warm air produced is also likely to come from inefficient heating systems and escapes through inefficient ventilation systems.

The need for EWI

Old homes are often built with single brick or solid stone walls, which are inefficient at retaining heat. This can lead to significant heat loss through the walls, resulting in higher energy bills and a less comfortable living environment. EWI addresses this issue by adding an insulating layer to the exterior walls of a building, preventing heat from escaping and cold air from entering. By improving the thermal performance of the walls, EWI can make an old home more energy-efficient and comfortable.

  • Improved energy efficiency – By preventing heat loss through walls, EWI can help homeowners save up to 40% on their energy bills. This translates to significant long-term savings and reduced dependence on heating and cooling systems.
  • Enhanced comfort – EWI eliminates drafts and cold spots, creating a more consistent indoor temperature. This means a more comfortable living environment, especially during extreme weather conditions.
  • Reduced carbon footprint – Improved energy efficiency means lower greenhouse gas emissions, helping homeowners reduce their environmental impact.
  • Increased property value – Energy-efficient homes are more desirable to buyers, often commanding a higher resale value. Investing in EWI can pay off in the long run if homeowners decide to sell their property.

Maintaining character in an old home

Brick slips offer an ideal solution for homeowners who want to insulate their old home without altering its external appearance. These thin, lightweight slices of brick are installed over the external wall insulation, providing an authentic brickwork appearance while still benefiting from the energy-saving properties of insulation. Brick slips can be chosen to match the existing brickwork or to create a new, customised look. This allows homeowners to maintain their home’s historic charm while enjoying the advantages of modern insulation technology.

The bonus of using brick slips is that they can be installed by the homeowner. They are incredibly lightweight, therefore easy to handle and manipulate. The process of installing is essentially like tiling, but more forgiving. The slips can be lifted off and readjusted. Moreover, the only specialist tools required are a multi-cutter and a mortar gun or a mortar jointing tool to complete the pointing.

Lime render

Lime render, a traditional, eco-friendly material made from lime, sand, and water, has been used for centuries to insulate buildings. Its unique properties make it an excellent choice for old homes, particularly those with solid walls or moisture issues. Lime render is breathable, meaning it allows moisture to evaporate from the wall surface. This prevents condensation and dampness problems that can lead to structural damage.

Applying lime render over the external wall insulation creates a barrier that prevents heat loss, while still allowing the building to ‘breathe.’ Additionally, the natural, textured finish of lime render complements the character of an old home, preserving its historic charm.

Lime render can also form an important portion of an Eco home design, combining traditional materials in a modern design. The combination of modern and traditional techniques can lead to a surprising amount of variety on site.

A lime render façade in an Eco home
Campbell, Verity. “Future Focused.” Sanctuary: Modern Green Homes, no. 44, 2018, pp. 24–28. JSTOR, https://www.jstor.org/stable/90024280. Accessed 3 May 2023.

Choosing the right materials for an old home

Selecting the appropriate external wall insulation material for an old home requires careful consideration of the property’s unique needs and characteristics. Factors to consider include:

  • The age and construction of the building – Some insulation materials might not be compatible with certain construction types, such as timber-framed homes or those with delicate historic features. Consult with a professional to ensure the chosen insulation material is suitable for your home.
  • Breathability – Insulation materials that allow moisture to escape from the walls are crucial for preventing dampness and structural issues in old homes. Both lime render and brick slips offer breathability, making them excellent choices for many older properties.
  • Aesthetics – When choosing an insulation material, homeowners should consider how it will impact the appearance of their home. Brick slips provide a seamless match with existing brickwork. Lime render offers a natural, textured finish that blends well with the character of an old home.

Old homes will tend to require extensive experience and knowledge when it comes to retrofits. Retrofitting an old home with external wall insulation, brick slips, or lime render can be a complex and nuanced process that requires specialized knowledge and expertise. Working with experienced professionals can help ensure the success of your energy-saving project while preserving the character and integrity of your home.

If you have any other questions about saving energy in old homes or any other issues, drop us a comment below!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Read more here!