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Retrofitting your home

Retrofitting is the term for making changes to existing buildings to reduce energy use and carbon dioxide emissions. It can also save you money in the long term.

The benefits

  • A more efficient home which will be warmer, cheaper to run and less draughty.
  • Investing in energy efficient home improvements may cost more upfront but will save you money over its lifetime.
  • A better Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating which is likely to increase the value of your property.

Examples of retrofitting include:

  • Insulating roofs, walls and floors
  • Replacing windows
  • Improving ventilation or draught proofing
  • Installing efficient heating and hot water systems
  • Installing renewable energy eg solar panels

How to retrofit

Each home is different and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to retrofitting. The first step should be to evaluate your home’s energy efficiency so you can see which improvements would be most beneficial. The best way to do this is to employ an expert to conduct an analysis and create a whole house plan – this will tell you best way forward, how much it is likely to cost and in what order you should proceed. Cosy Homes Oxfordshire offers this service for our local area for a fee.

Please be aware that demand for retrofitting service is extremely high at the moment because of the energy crisis so you may find that many suppliers have waiting lists.

The most effective way forward is a ‘whole house’ or ‘deep’ retrofit, which is where a wide range of measures are used alongside each other as part of a whole house system to considerably reduce a building’s energy needs. This will always involve insulating the house first, known as the ‘fabric first’ approach – only once this is done should low carbon heating and hot water systems be added.

The Centre for Sustainable Energy has a useful webpage which explains the retrofitting process in more detail.

Thermal cameras available to help identify heat loss

We have a thermal camera available for town and parish councils and community groups to use to identify heat loss in buildings. The infrared thermal imaging equipment can show clearly ‘cold spots’ where insulation could improve energy efficiency and thereby reduce energy waste and costs. It can easily locate areas of significant heat loss without invasive techniques affecting the fabric of the building.

If your organisation would like to borrow the equipment (free of charge) please contact the climate action team at climateaction@southandvale.gov.uk. The camera is only effective during cold weather when the heating is on and is available on a first come, first served basis.

Rented properties

If you are renting your home, your landlord is responsible for making home energy improvements. The government has recently announced a plan to bring the minimum EPC rating of rented homes from E to C. This is likely to be enforced from 1 April 2025 for new tenancies, and from 1 April 2028 for existing tenancies.

Listed buildings or buildings in conservation areas are applicable for an exemption certificate where: ‘Compliance with the minimum energy requirements would unacceptably alter their character or appearance.’ This is not a blanket exception and in most cases some improvements can be made to a listed building without harming its character or historic interest.

Tenants may wish to actively engage with their landlords to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. Cosy Homes Oxfordshire has a communications pack for rental tenants to help with this.

Costs and available funding

The costs will vary depending on the size of your house, its energy efficiency and how old it is. Ultimately, upfront investment as part of any retrofit work will be paid back through long-term energy savings.

Cosy Homes Oxfordshire have a free online tool called Plan Builder which can give an overview of the retrofit opportunities for your homes. They can then offer initial home assessments by their expert Retrofit Assessors, and this information will be used to develop a bespoke Whole House Plan for your home. This costs from £250, depending on the size of your home.

You may be eligible for other loans and grants to improve the energy efficiency of your home here.

Where to go for retrofit advice

When approaching retrofit installers, you should make sure that they are MCS (Microgeneration Certification Scheme) accredited – this is one of the eligibility requirements to receive a government grant for the Boiler Upgrade Scheme.

There are lots of other organisations which offer useful advice about retrofitting homes, including the Centre for Sustainable EnergyTrustMark, the Energy Saving Trust and the Centre for Alternative Technologies.

Examples

Take a look here on the Cosy Homes website for some stories from homeowners in Oxfordshire who have been on their own home retrofit journeys.

If you are considering the benefits and costs of different green technologies and want to read about other people’s experiences, the Energy Saving Trust case study database has lots of examples.

Contact us - Climate action and biodiversity team

Vale of White Horse District Council
Abbey House
Abbey Close
Abingdon
OX14 3JE