Retrofitting your Home

I have recently completed the AECB (Association of Environmental Conscious Builders) CarbonLite Retrofit course. This is an excellent online learning course targeted at architects, designer, and builders who want to understand the intricacies and details of retrofitting domestic homes.

This is the second in a series of blogs on maintenance and retrofitting where I share my journey and my thoughts with you.

What is Retrofitting?

Retrofitting is the addition of new technology or features to a building in order to improve its performance. This performance is usually measured by an improvement in energy efficiency and/or a decrease in energy demand.
The AECB advocates that an improvement in the health and comfort of the occupiers and in the state and condition of the house is an integral part of a good retrofit.

Why Retrofit our Homes?

For our part in preventing (or limiting) global warming Britain has a target to achieve zero carbon emissions from our homes by 2050. 80% of the existing housing stock will still be occupied in 2050 and on current projections, our houses will emit over 50% of greenhouse gases by this date.
Unless your home is about to fall down or is planned to be demolished it will still be occupied in 2050. Energy will be more expensive and global warming is projected to cause floods, droughts, heat waves and extreme weather events. These conditions will test the fabric and performance of our homes.

Why Maintain your Home?

Effective and timely maintenance and a well-planned retrofit go hand-in-hand. Before you do any improvements works to your property or build an extension or convert the loft or carry out a full retrofit it is a really good idea to check the existing fabric and structure are sound. If you don’t do this you could be covering up a disaster for the future – ‘a stitch in time saves nine’.

How do you Benefit?

A well planned and carefully executed retrofit will have a positive impact on your health, on your comfort, on the future condition of your house and on your wallet.
A good retrofit will have low energy bills, be warm & comfortable in the winter and cool & comfortable in hot weather. It will have good indoor air quality, be free of damp and mould and have low maintenance costs.
It will also increase the value of your home – what is there not to like?

Key principles of a Full Retrofit

The AECB has a number of key principles that are central to a successful low energy retrofit
The retrofit works have to be robust.
The new technology or features fitted must perform well under normal and abnormal conditions
The energy used to heat and power the building must be used more efficiently resulting in lower running costs for the occupants
The comfort for the occupants should increase in the summer and the winter
The retrofit should provide good indoor air quality and consistent temperatures.
The health of the occupants should improve
The retrofit should address long-term maintenance and health issues of the building
The condition of the building fabric will be preserved and enhanced, with reduced future maintenance costs

Typical Full Retrofit

Every property is different and all occupiers needs vary. There is not one typical example but a full retrofit usually includes;
Insulating the walls. Internally or externally. (Cavity wall insulation does not normally give sufficient improvement in the thermal performance of the walls)
Insulating the roof at loft, ceiling or rafter level
Insulating the ground floor (or floors adjacent to the ground)
Upgrading doors and windows (double or triple glazing)
Improving airtightness
The provision of continuous ventilation for the property (usually mechanical)
Installing a highly efficient boiler with well insulated hot water tank and pipes
Upgrading lighting and appliances

You retrofit could be carried out in one go or as a series of carefully planned and phased steps. You may want to combine retrofitting your home with other proposed works; an extension, a conversion, or refurbishment.

As I discovered when doing some budget costs, the expenditure in terms of the initial investment to carry a full retrofit on my house will be quite significant. So, how do I move things forward? (See next few blogs)

For more details of my work please check out my website:

Low energy/sustainability

Please note this is a guide and is not a definitive source of technical &/or legal information.

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