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Sometimes, it’s hard being green!

So, I decided I wanted to switch my home heating away from gas.

Easy-peasy! Just get an air source heat pump.

Well, OK, but air source heat pumps circulating water is at a lower temperature than gas boilers, and so works best with underfloor heating. It could work with radiators, but it would need much bigger ones. Installing underfloor heating or larger radiators is major refit – major disruption – not attractive!

Better would be to do major insulation work – roof space, underfloor and (in my case) dealing with solid brick walls.

Roof space insulation – no problem – just do it. Clear the attic (ugh!), raise the boards on brackets, installing more insulation under the now raised boards.

My floor is mostly floorboards on joists, covered in fitted carpet, with empty space underneath. So, lift the carpets and boards, install the insulation, and put it all back! Alternatively there is a company which will raise a small bit of the floor, and put a robot through the hole, which trundles around under the floor spraying insulation to the underside of the floor. I’m on their waiting list, and have been for many months.

Finally, the external walls. Insulation can be applied internally or externally. Application of an effective thickness of insulation internally reduces the size of the rooms. I would be particularly concerned about the stairs. Also very disruptive! Application of external insulation needs consent of the Heritage Foundation. This would not be forthcoming!

OK forget the air source heat pump. Why not just replace the gas boiler with an electric boiler? Easy one for one substitution. OK, expensive to install and expensive to run, but hey, nobody said being green was cheap. Go for it! Except that the existing single phase electricity supply doesn’t supply enough power. I would need three phase. Dig up the verge, dig up the drive, find several thousand pounds!

It should be easier than this to be green, which is why Transition Town Letchworth regularly lobby local planning authorities to find an acceptable external insulation solution to support residents to transition to energy efficient homes. Acceptable exterior cladding solutions need to be agreed for the front of properties, cladding should be allowed on the sides and rear of buildings and tolerances could be added to extension dimensions if owners commit to installing extra insulation.

In the meantime, I try to reduce my gas use, managing heating times carefully, keeping the thermostat down and blocking off draughts. DIY draught proofing strip and cloth sausage door draught excluders work wonders! The relatively easy and inexpensive fitting of Thermostatically controlled Radiator Valves (TRVs) lets me maintain different temperatures in different rooms and not heat rooms if I shut the doors.

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