Wednesday 9 March 2011

Heat and noise

We always knew Walnut Tree House would be cold and/or expensive to heat.  That much was clear from the EPC we got pre-purchase which suggested it might cost a mind-melting £4k a year in oil and electricity.  Having had to top up the oil tank a mere four weeks after 500 litres went in there, I can now believe it.

Ula’s room aside the house is quite warm.  The Aga does a good, if expensive and almost certainly inefficient, job of heating the kitchen, and our room, sandwiched between under eaves storage, lounge and Ula’s room remains plenty warm enough.

The main problem is that there is almost no insulation anywhere in the house.  Most of the walls are timber framed with a coat of render on the outside, plasterboard on the inside and only air, fraying electric cables and escaping heat in between.  Add to that a boiler that we believe is older than Islay and you can see why burning fivers to keep warm might be more cost effective than the current arrangements.

But, we’ve planned and budgeted (very crudely) for spending money this year, perhaps £30k or more, on uprating the insulation and installing a new boiler and radiators.  The problem we’re both finding is that we’ve no clear idea of what we want to do (other than make it cheaper to run and warmer to live in), no idea what our budget will get us, and worse, no idea who to ask to help us solve the problem.

Since we’ve moved in we’ve had the following suggestions:

  • My mate Ian says install an air source heat pump and solar water heaters

  • Our surveyor Brien says get solar PV panels

  • One bunch of roofers says we should take the roof off and insulate from the outside

  • One plasterer says take the plasterboard off and insulate the wall space

  • Another says don’t take the plasterboard off, just stick thermal lining over the plasterboard

  • And the internet says do everything, but it’s all terrible and you should do the other everything.

Most of which seem more or less reasonable, but none of which help us reach a conclusion.

Hope may be at hand, we’ve found some local heating and insulation contractors and consultants.  I’d just like to find someone who seems to know a bit more than I do and can put a proposal forward.

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