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Digital Subscriptions > Build It > May 2017 > Renewables for renovators

Renewables for renovators

Rebecca Foster delves into some of the essential considerations when it comes to installing renewable technology as part of your home improvement scheme

If you are tackling a substantial renovation project, establishing a sustainable home with low running costs is likely to be a top priority. The first step should always be to upgrade the fabric of your house to create a thermally-efficient shell – but once this is in place, you can look to boost your property’s green credentials with renewables.

Products such as heat pumps, biomass boilers and solar thermal systems all come with their own distinct advantages, but it’s worth bearing in mind that some pieces of kit are more straightforward to retrofit than others. So it’s important to do your homework and understand the unique needs of your property before investing in a renewable setup. Here’s what you need to know.

Fabric-first approach

Before you buy this kind of tech, it is vital that you assess the efficiency of the building’s thermal envelope. Prioritising insulation and airtightness will help ensure warmth generated via a heat pump or biomass boiler isn’t lost through gaps in the building fabric.

The scope of any improvements you make could be limited by physical constraints or planning issues – particularly if you’re making alterations to a listed building. However, switching single-glazed windows for double or inserting secondary glazing could be one straightforward solution.

“When refurbishing, many people take the building back to the bare brickwork anyway,” says Paul Leedham, from Matrix Energy Systems. “If you’re spending the money doing that, then you’re probably going to be looking at the insulation as well as the heating setup.” Packing a suitable extra layer of thermal protection in the loft, walls and floors and addressing weak points (such as letter boxes and cat flaps) will improve your home’s performance.

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About Build It

The May edition of Build It magazine brings you all the inspiration & practical advice you need to complete your home building project on time and on budget, including: • A stunning light-filled contemporary bungalow transformation (page 20) • Discover the right build system for your project (page 60) • Choose a modern front door (page 71) • A complete guide to loft conversions (page 80) • Top tips for your lighting design (page 90) • Common plot issues and how to overcome them (page 97) • Dealing with damp (page 103) … and more!
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