We love period homes for their character, charm and solid features. This is especially true during summer when sunshine floods through sash windows, and the wooden floorboards are warm underfoot. During the winter months, however, many Victorian homeowners fall out of love with these features when the heating bills fall through the letterbox. So, if you’re looking to make your period home that little bit greener and rekindle its cosy charm this winter, read on for our top energy-saving tips.
Let there be light
Victorian homes, particularly smaller terraced properties, have a tendency to let less light in than newer homes. Everyone needs to have lights and lamps on regularly, so investing in energy-saving light bulbs can make a real difference to the green footprint of your home.
Low-energy lighting solutions have undergone significant improvements over the years. According to energy saving advice portal TheGevereenAge, LED lightbulbs use 90% less energy than incandescent bulbs, and typically last 12-15 times longer. There’s no need to compromise on style, either, when it comes to LEDs, as they now come in a range of styles that look right at home in period properties – a real energy lifeline. We love nothing better than a super-efficient, Edison-style LED bulb!
Boilers and pipework need love, too
Many Victorian homes would benefit from a full boiler and pipework refit to maximise energy savings. In this case, the whole heating system is replaced with a modern, energy-efficient system. However, if you can’t cover the cost of extensive retro-fitting work, all is not lost. Simply lagging your pipework (insulating water pipes using special foam) can help increase the performance of your heating system and bring bills down significantly.
First, determine the type and make of your boiler before carrying out any lagging or insulation work. Speak to an industry professional if you’re not sure where to start. We can’t stress enough the importance of doing your homework beforehand; this will ensure any work you do runs smoothly and achieves maximum results. This handy cheat sheet by the Environment Centre covers all the bases of pipe lagging, from the type of insulation to buy to the pipes you need to lag. It’s a simple solution that can make a lot of difference.
Give your windows and doors some TLC
Wooden sash windows are a beautiful feature of many Victorian houses; ornate wooden doors are another. Unfortunately, both are often responsible for nasty draughts in older homes, but with a little bit of TLC, this needn’t be the case. So, before you go to replace them with modern equivalents, why not make improvements to your existing, character-filled fittings? Your house will thank you for it!
Short-term cures for this issue include lining your curtains with a heavy layer of material to prevent draughts circulating, and fitting your windows with sealed shutters to help rooms retain heat. Fitting doors with draught excluders designed to minimise unwanted airflow is another cheap and easy solution. If you’re reluctant to invest a little time and money on these tips, you shouldn’t be – figures from the Energy Saving Trust state that draught-proofing windows and doors could typically save you £10-£50 per year.
In the long term, replacing rattling, gappy windows and ill-fitting doors with energy-saving ones is a brilliant way of improving the look and efficiency of your home. Companies such as Everest upgrade sash windows in period properties, replacing them with thermally efficient equivalents that retain the beauty of the originals, while significantly reducing heating bills.
Insulate your loft space
It’s a well-known fact that heat rises, so if the loft space in your period property is lacking insulation, all that precious warmth you work so hard to generate in the colder months won’t hang around for very long. Energy supplier Ovo energy has compiled a handy guide on loft insulation, how to tackle it, and the amount of money you could typically save. One way of telling whether you need to get the ladders out is by taking a look at your roof on a snowy day; if it’s the only roof with no snow on it, it most likely needs attention!
If you love the stylish charm offered by your Victorian home but wince at your energy bills, take those stunning features you fell for when you first moved in and invest some time into making them a little more energy-efficient. Both your bank balance and carbon footprint will thank you for it.