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Green Building Bible, Fourth Edition
Green Building Bible, fourth edition (both books)
These two books are the perfect starting place to help you get to grips with one of the most vitally important aspects of our society - our homes and living environment.

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    • CommentAuthorjms452
    • CommentTimeJan 12th 2020
     
    When we start to phase out gas boilers and move to heat pumps the CoP for water heating to 60C is very low - this is akin to the immersion heater on when you get home from work and have a shower.
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeJan 12th 2020
     
    Elsewhere DamonHD wrote:I am able to locally poll my Enphase unit even when the Enphase central servers are unwell, and I don't feel bad about polling every few minutes.

    That's interesting. I have Enphase microinverters and AFAIK (it certainly used to be the case) there was no way to access detailed data locally (via the Envoy) and even general requests have to be rate-limited. Scraping the web page is what I'm reduced to! So it's interesting (and also frustrating) to hear that they've take a different approach with their batteries.

    FWIW, we have a Tapworks softener. For me the important factors were: it takes generic tablets, rather than block salt and it is metered as regards regeneration. I don't care if I can't use softened water 2am, if indeed that's the case.

    And yes, space heating only at night works very well as long as you have done insulate, insulate, insulate first. For DHW our immersion comes on for an hour after midnight and an hour in the early morning and then for twenty minutes at 19:30 before/while we shower. Of course PV takes preference and if the tank is already up to temperature then the immersion doesn't take any power. But so far that has guaranteed hot water without having to think about it.

    IMHO we (the world) should concentrate more on building well-insulated houses than trying to optimise poorly-insulated ones' heating systems.
  1.  
    The following would suggest we (the UK) need to do both

    A: UK households : approx 26 million
    B: UK houses built last year: approx 0.2million /yr
    Ratio A/B : 130 years
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeJan 13th 2020
     
    That's assuming you think we can solve the world's problems by optimising heating systems (rather than improving the fabric sufficiently). I don't.
    •  
      CommentAuthorDamonHD
    • CommentTimeJan 13th 2020
     
    Fabric first whenever possible IMHO.

    Probably due to a combination of IWI, Radbot and behaviour tweaks my home's in about the bottom 5--10% of gas users. I of course think that Radbot makes sense for (say) band C EPC or below, but it would be much better to get the fabric improved to a point where Radbot can't help. OTOH Radbot targets 30% savings for under a couple of hundred quid, typically, whereas fabric improvements are likely to start at an order of magnitude more. We have a project open (with BEIS) where we are testing putting Radbot in first to get an instant improvement and collect the data to then help choose the most effective fabric (and other) improvements to follow.

    If I could halve space heat demand again at home we'd be at about PH demand levels, I think.

    Rgds

    Damon
    • CommentAuthortony
    • CommentTimeJan 14th 2020
     
    +1
  2.  
    Yes, improving the fabric is clearly the way to go from a purely theoretical POV but this has strictly limited application in the context of any building with the slightest character about it.

    I have carefully considered both IWI and EWI but the application of either would simply utterly destroy the charm and character of my Victorian semi.

    The upshot is that I simply cannot countenance either of these as a solution.

    All of which leaves me with underfloor insulation on the ground floor and loft insulation at the top end combined with ruthless elimination of all draughts plus clip-on magnetic secondary glazing and good old fashioned heavy curtains.

    Draughts, where they exist, are pretty well the #1 issue with most dwellings.

    I read somewhere (I really wish I could turn up the reference) that a gap with an area equivalent to a 1/4" hole drilled in a wall requires an absolutely shocking amount of heat input to counteract the consequent cooling effect and it is certainly very easy indeed to have a gap of this magnitude on a 120 year old sash window. Our 8' high bay windows, which I am slowly renovating / refurbishing, have combined gaps in any given room which I would guess runs to a square foot or more never mind a 1/4" and that's not including the gaps left between the masonry and the frames that were poorly sealed with sand and cement fillets by the contractor paid a fortune to renovate the whole lot 25 years ago!!! (Just as an aside - the original sashes were retained at the time and they continue to be far and away the highest quality timber with the fewest problems, so if you can keep that old Victorian timber it will outlast even the fancy hard wood sills which your contractor assures you can spend 100 years under water and still be fine! Needless to say, it is these replacement sills which have required to bulk of the refurbishment work.)

    For those of you who are interested I thoroughly recommend the following two publications from English Heritage on the twin subjects of draughtproofing and the renovation of traditional windows:-

    Historic England - Energy Efficiency and Historic Buildings - Draughtproofing Windows and Doors:

    https://historicengland.org.uk/images-books/publications/eehb-draught-proofing-windows-doors/heag084-draughtproofing/

    Historic England - Traditional Windows - Their Care, Repair and Upgrading:

    https://historicengland.org.uk/images-books/publications/traditional-windows-care-repair-upgrading/

    These documents are packed with useful information for owners of traditional homes but one of the single biggest takeaways is that double glazing is largely unnecessary (and indeed quite possibly highly deleterious if only from an aesthetic perspective) if draughts are eliminated and effective use is made of curtains or shutters and, as a largely secondary consideration, secondary double glazing.

    For those inclined to be sceptical (as I was in the first instance) about the suggestion that double glazing is not the answer I offer the following quote from the summary of the first of the above documents:

    "...less than a quarter of the heat lost through a typical traditional window escapes by conduction through the glass..."

    Discovering that one does not need to fit ugly new DG in one's lovely old sash windows to achieve adequate thermal performance is the best news I have had in a long time.

    And finally, for those contemplating repair of their old windows but who are daunted by the prospect of having to perform expert level carpentry and joinery I can recommend the Repair Care range of epoxy filler products:

    https://www.repair-care.co.uk/

    It's expensive, but after 40+ years of experience as a reasonably accomplished DIYer and the renovator of more windows than I care to remember I will now not use anything else. Even so-called 'two part fillers' crack out sooner rather than later. So far (5 years+) Repair Care (other brands of epoxy wood filler are available) has never let me down.

    The epoxy products referred to here are specially formulated for use with wood. As is my usual wont I was initially sceptical of this claim but I can attest that it is actually true. The formulation somehow cures to a softer finish than the epoxy one might be used to and once cured it truly can be worked like timber with traditional tools such as chisels and the like just like it says on the side of the "tin".

    Epoxy fillers are recommended by both Historic England and the National Trust. indeed, i believe that the latter will not let any other type of filler anywhere near their windows.

    I can also thoroughly recommend the Repair Care 'Dry Seal' glazing product when the time comes to replace failing linseed oil putty.

    (I have no connection with Repair Care - I'm just a satisfied customer.)

    Sorry if this post went off at too much of a tangent.
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeJan 14th 2020
     
    Posted By: ealingbadgerYes, improving the fabric is clearly the way to go from a purely theoretical POV but this has strictly limited application in the context of any building with the slightest character about it.

    Hmm, I suppose you're old enough that you don't care if the planet dies and have no children to worry about either? Or maybe you live in London and have the peculiar blindness that seems to affect so many there, that aesthetics deserve equal consideration with practicality? (not that that's necessarily a given of course)

    I have carefully considered both IWI and EWI but the application of either would simply utterly destroy the charm and character of my Victorian semi.

    The upshot is that I simply cannot countenance either of these as a solution.

    What are you doing on GBF then?

    You clearly haven't looked at the very appealing IWI and EWI projects that some people have done.

    Sorry if my reply is too blunt.
  3.  
    Hi EB, hopefully things are going well for constructing your passivhaus building in your back garden. Do you and DJH both have similar EPS rafts?

    Your Victorian house sounds similar to the one we recently moved out of, and another one we just moved in to.

    We reduced CO2 from the last place by ~70%, by replacing the oil boiler with a heat pump. This was by far the fastest and most effective change we made, in terms of CO2 reduction. Assuming you have gas heating, the reduction would be ~50% for you, but if you have electric heating it will be far more.

    We reduced the remaining CO2 by a further 70%, by a combination of draught reduction (the second most effective change), underfloor insulation, roof insulation, internal wall insulation and selective glazing upgrades. We did not change the front exterior appearance (except for replacement skylights), or the visible original features inside.

    The work took more than a decade and more funds than were sensible, but made the house comfortable and much lower-impact. We are starting to do the same things on our new place.

    Takeaway for me is that fabric upgrades and boiler upgrades for the UK legacy housing stock are not an either/or choice, we need to improve them both. If we are going to act urgently on climate then it's better to do the quickest things first which have the most impact, which is not necessarily the fabric first, unlike with a new-build.

    If we wait for the UK building industry to replace all the Victorian housing stock with passivhauses, then at current rates we'll still be waiting 100 years from now, which is way too late.

    Interesting stuff from historic England. Have you read the stuff from historic Scotland about solid walls?
    • CommentAuthorTimSmall
    • CommentTimeJan 15th 2020
     
    On the topic of load shifting electric car charging, you can buy a 7kW charger from Octopus for not a great deal which will automatically time-shift things for you using their Agile tariff.

    It's also available in other versions which will plug into a 13 amp socket (for 2.5kW charging), or as a "smart add-on" to an existing domestic EV wall-socket.

    Tear-down and thorough testing here:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O58KT117crs

    ... unless you are a hard-core electronics spod, then you probably just want to watch the first 3.5 minutes, then skip forward to 44:45 for the conclusion.

    I'd guess that a for a daily EV commuter, this'll pay for its self reasonably quickly (particularly if you don't already have a wall-charger and you can't use the grants etc.).

    Domestic heating is a little more tricky since you've got to have good controls which are aware of thermal comfort.
  4.  
    Sensational newspaper front page:
    https://inews.co.uk/news/politics/electric-car-surge-exclusive-power-cuts-national-grid-overload-1366304

    The basis is a more considered and sensible report by the government's EV Energy Taskforce about vehicle charging.

    They are big on pushing 'smart chargers' which are like smart meters for cars, with similar advantages (and disadvantages if that's your outlook!) about shifting demand times, variable pricing etc

    http://www.lowcvp.org.uk/assets/reports/EV_Energy_Taskforce_Report_Jan2020.pdf
  5.  
    Posted By: djh
    Posted By: ealingbadgerYes, improving the fabric is clearly the way to go from a purely theoretical POV but this has strictly limited application in the context of any building with the slightest character about it.

    Hmm, I suppose you're old enough that you don't care if the planet dies and have no children to worry about either? Or maybe you live in London and have the peculiar blindness that seems to affect so many there, that aesthetics deserve equal consideration with practicality? (not that that's necessarily a given of course)

    I have carefully considered both IWI and EWI but the application of either would simply utterly destroy the charm and character of my Victorian semi.

    The upshot is that I simply cannot countenance either of these as a solution.

    What are you doing on GBF then?

    You clearly haven't looked at the very appealing IWI and EWI projects that some people have done.

    Sorry if my reply is too blunt.


    I do live in London but otherwise, of course not!

    And I most certainly do care about the planet and my children which is why I am here on GBF.

    I was born in semi-rural South Wales and have lived variously since in urban and rural locations in Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Essex, Suffolk, and finally London. During this time I have lived in properties built in the 50s, 60s, 70s, back to the 30s, 1910s, 1890s, and now, finally 1900. I have personally maintained most of these (initially assisting my father) and renovated several of them. This may cause you to reconsider your assumptions.

    I am building a workshop at the end of my garden and this will be of modern timber framed construction to better than Passivhaus standard utilising a concrete slab laid on top on 300mm of insulation and which will make extensive use of solar for both water and electricity, and to heat the building itself. To the rear will be storage for 8,000 litres of rainwater which will be used for irrigation and will also be piped back to the house for use in toilet cisterns etc. (Sadly, it remains the case that various contractors and the building control people find building to this standard to be rather bizarre, if not slightly deranged. We still have a long way to go on this front it would seem...)

    I would have liked to install a ground source heat pump as well, but sadly access restrictions for the necessary ground works made this impractical.

    I may yet install an air sourced heat pump to assist the main house heating.

    Is that 'eco' enough for you?

    I have looked at EWI and there is nothing available that does not utterly destroy the appearance of any Victorian era building that it might be applied to. Aesthetics are actually quite important to quite a lot of people.

    Most IWI schemes are a phenomenal amount of work and involve a reduction in overall room size - something that is not very palatable to many. I am therefore pursuing other avenues in order to do the best that I can.
  6.  
    Posted By: WillInAberdeenHi EB, hopefully things are going well for constructing your passivhaus building in your back garden. Do you and DJH both have similar EPS rafts?

    Your Victorian house sounds similar to the one we recently moved out of, and another one we just moved in to.

    We reduced CO2 from the last place by ~70%, by replacing the oil boiler with a heat pump. This was by far the fastest and most effective change we made, in terms of CO2 reduction. Assuming you have gas heating, the reduction would be ~50% for you, but if you have electric heating it will be far more.

    We reduced the remaining CO2 by a further 70%, by a combination of draught reduction (the second most effective change), underfloor insulation, roof insulation, internal wall insulation and selective glazing upgrades. We did not change the front exterior appearance (except for replacement skylights), or the visible original features inside.

    The work took more than a decade and more funds than were sensible, but made the house comfortable and much lower-impact. We are starting to do the same things on our new place.

    Takeaway for me is that fabric upgrades and boiler upgrades for the UK legacy housing stock are not an either/or choice, we need to improve them both. If we are going to act urgently on climate then it's better to do the quickest things first which have the most impact, which is not necessarily the fabric first, unlike with a new-build.

    If we wait for the UK building industry to replace all the Victorian housing stock with passivhauses, then at current rates we'll still be waiting 100 years from now, which is way too late.

    Interesting stuff from historic England. Have you read the stuff from historic Scotland about solid walls?


    Not sure about DJH's raft. Mine is XPS.

    Your approach re Victorian properties seems very similar to my own.

    Yes, I have read the Historic Scotland info and have downloaded a number of their documents for future reference along with the Historic England ones.

    I really wish that I could get a ground source heat pump in here, but sadly, short of hiring a heavy lift helicopter to get the drilling rig and other ground working equipment in (and back out again), I don't think it is ever going to happen.

    (I did once get a couple of quotes for craning in a shipping container over the top of the house from the front but they wanted so many thousands of pounds that this idea had to be abandoned.)
    •  
      CommentAuthorDamonHD
    • CommentTime7 days ago edited
     
    Posted By: ealingbadger
    Most IWI schemes are a phenomenal amount of work and involve a reduction in overall room size - something that is not very palatable to many. I am therefore pursuing other avenues in order to do the best that I can.


    Most is not all.

    We basically gained space or were neutral, eg instead of two large rads dominating two walls in the living room, one half-size rad next to the sofa allowed much more effective use of the whole room:

    http://www.earth.org.uk/superinsulating-our-living-room.html

    Rgds

    Damon
  7.  
    We had a lot of lath&plaster-on-stud that had been plasterboarded in the 1970s. Whenever a room was due for redecorating, we replaced this with PIR between/over the studs. This reduced the room by a couple of inches, not noticeable when complete, but the room was much warmer and more comfortable. We had the usual lean-to extension out the back that particularly benefits from insulation and we 'EWI'dā€™ a side wall by building a conservatory across it.

    It was indeed a 'phenomenal amount of work' so it took many years to get round the house, especially kitchen and bathroom that don't get stripped out very often.

    For a much quicker impact, look at an air source heat pump.
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