Calderdale Council: Making Calderdale older homes more energy efficient – hard to treat or hard to fund?

Hard to TreatThere are approximately 93,000 residential properties in Calderdale:  some 79,000 are privately owned and 14,000 social rented. Half of the privately owned homes were built before 1918.  In 2009 the Council commissioned a research project to examine the different methods of insulating stone homes, and of funding this work.

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Many of the older homes are generally cold, draughty and cannot be insulated with standard fibre insulation products because of their construction type.  Some have narrow, random stone wall cavities with stone ties; the majority have solid stone walls.  In some of the denser urban areas, residents have converted their lofts into attic bedrooms to create extra living space before more stringent building regulations came into effect during the 1990s with little or no thought to insulation.  Although much work had been done to make homes warmer and reduce carbon emissions by using conventional loft and cavity wall fibre insulation, subsidy and new solutions were needed to reduce heat loss from the older stone housing in the borough.

The key findings of the report are summarised as follows:

  • Residents in stone built properties (and those who have attic bedrooms) tend to have the perception that ‘nothing can be done’ to insulate their home if it cannot be done with cavity wall or loft fibre.
  • People need improved access to better information on how their stone properties can be best insulated, along with simple access to carbon subsidies and sources of finance to help them fund the work.
  • Vulnerable households need assistance with procurement from trusted contractors.
  • At the time of the study, 20% of the stone properties that were surveyed were found to have a suitable cavity for expanded polystyrene bead insulation or polyurethane (pur) foam.  Since this time, one of the pur foam products available on the market has had a product guarantee for use in random stone cavities with stone ties.
  • Some properties may need essential repair work to their roofs and or walls, before insulation can be installed.
  • Attic rooms can be easily and successfully dry lined with composite phenolic foam boards to make them more comfortable during extreme temperatures of winter and summer.
  • Internal dry lining products are available for solid wall properties, but they are disruptive and expensive to install.
  • External wall insulation is available for solid wall properties, but may not be suitable as a common remedy because of the stone character and heritage across much of the local housing stock.
  • Installation of draught proofing can have a positive benefit just by improving the thermal comfort for residents.

Contact

richard.armitage@calderdale.gov.uk

Links

Council’s web pages on housing energy efficiency schemes:

calderdale.gov.uk/housing/energy-efficiency