wood burning stove
loft insulation

1950s built ex Local Authority house

This is a very familiar type of house to Scots, and one held with a degree of affection by many.


brick, with a cavity wall, and slate or tile roofs, solid floor.

EPC rating

As built, band F – As surveyed, with double glazing, cavity wall insulation, 75mm of loft insulation and electric storage heaters, band E


Starting with the improvements listed above, the first, easiest and cheapest modification was to add an extra 200mm of loft insulation for less than £200, and a payback of two years.Next, and as much for light gain, the householder replaced the old, drafty wooden external doors with modern double-glazed PVC models.

The homeowner also part insulated the inside walls – in the bathroom and living room. As the bathroom was being retiled, and the living room plaster was in poor condition, there was very little extra mess or disturbance, so this made sense.

Finally, and for personal preference, the homeowner replaced the electric storage heating with a wood burner running radiators and hot water.


The house is brighter, less drafty and warmer. The quality of life impact was also great. A comfortable bathroom with no condensation on the tiles for a start.

And £6000 later, the EPC rating had improved to D.

Environmentally, there is huge benefit. By replacing electric heating with carbon neutral wood, this one house reduced its carbon footprint by 8000kg of CO2 per year – yes 8 tonnes! Economically not so much – the householder will save about £500 per year (a twelve-year payback) and despite such a huge environmental benefit, there is no support for wood burners from the Renewable Heat Incentive. But at least the owners have a real log fire – part of their dream home.

foil insulation
chimney lined


Where next?

The EPC assessment would recommend covering the solid concrete floors with an insulated floating floor (about £2000 plus flooring) but the house has original oak parquet flooring, so this is not an option for the owners. Instead, they are considering an approach favoured in New Zealand – insulating around the outside of the external wall from the damp proof course down to the foundations using expanded polystyrene foam. Much cheaper (about £200 to £300), with no disturbance, and likely to save almost as much energy. But the UK EPC system does not allow this to be considered.

Write by Martin Mathers

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