Easy-fit letter box draught excluder

Tag: energy efficiency

Fitting: A to Z of draughtproofing

Fitting

There is a wide range of products sold under the ‘energy efficiency’ banner. These can be small budget-friendly household items such as the Ecoflap and the Petflap. There is also an entire industry devoted to expensive energy efficient doors and windows. These are well-advertised and promoted, but you hear little about the importance of proper fitting.

The most highly engineered, energy efficient window in the world won’t be of any benefit if the wind is whistling through the gaps around it.

Expert fitting

fitting

If your windows look like this, you need specialist fitting advice.

We wrote a blog post earlier this year about the important of having windows fitted properly. This applies to all windows, but especially technical energy efficient ones. Our main point was that without expert fitting the windows will under-perform. This leads to disappointed customers, bad reputations for tradespeople, and possibly compensation claims. In episode 6 of our podcast we cited this as one reason why new builds underperform in energy efficiency.

The problems stem from top-end doors and windows being fitted by people used to sticking in a door or window to the standards of ordinary new builds. We’ve discussed before how woefully poor current new build standards can be (here’s a Guardian article on the subject). The skills required to fit them out aren’t up to what’s needed in an energy efficient house. This can be a particular issue with the drylining used instead of traditional wet plastering to speed up construction.

Fitting a door or window properly requires excellent attention to detail. There needs to be a good understanding of the materials. Fitters need to understand how buildings behave. Without a clear grounding in these there’s lots of scope for things to go wrong.  If your home is historic or listed there are additional considerations. In that situation you would be well-advised to consult SPAB. SPAB runs courses which are invaluable in helping you understand what your home needs.

Finding a fitter

fitting

Even a smart door like this won’t perform well if it’s badly fitted

So how do you go about finding a good company that can give you confidence?

To some extent this depends on what you’re doing. If you have a renovation project underway with an architect, presumably one experienced in designing energy efficient houses, they’re the person to ask.

If you’re looking to replace old doors or windows with a more energy efficient model then ask lots of questions from the vendor. Ask if they include fitting. If they do, grill them on how they ensure maximum energy efficiency. If they don’t include fitting ask if they recommend anyone. Remember – expertise in designing and manufacturing energy efficient doors and windows doesn’t necessarily translate into expertise in fitting them.

If you have to find your own fitters ask the vendor what you should be looking for from the fitters you choose. Any fitter you employ should offer a guarantee on their work and be able to explain to you what they bring to fitting your doors and windows.

Expert fitting is essential to the return on investment from new doors and windows. Ask questions, ask more questions, and then don’t be afraid to go somewhere else and ask all the same questions.

Retrofit for energy efficiency success

What makes a successful energy efficiency retrofit?

Badly designed energy efficiency retrofit can cause more problems than it solves

Badly designed energy efficiency retrofit can cause more problems than it solves

Short-term thinking: a retrofit disaster

I read an article on the Sustainable Homes website today that brought to mind a conversation with an ex-colleague, the property manager at a historic house in the south east of England. Her point was that ever since the sash windows had been sealed in their offices, the windows ran with damp and surely this couldn’t be a good thing. She’s absolutely right and the cause is as described in the article on the blog:

The tendency…to focus on the immediate and short term, with the consequent potential for a poorly designed and risk-controlled project, has long been a concern.

ECO funding

This article was looking at the implementation of ECO and specifically its focus on the short-term fix and goes on to look at organisations that have preferred to run projects without this type of funding, eg Viridian Housing, in order to retain more control.The blog post is a response to an article from Inside Housing (you need to regsiter to read articles) questioning whether energy efficiency work was in fact causing rather than solving problems for social housing tenants, but as the SH blog comments:

poor design, planning, procurement and delivery will create significant problems, and that’s the case for any work irrespective of why you wish to carry it out.

Active management

It’s vital particularly in this context to distinguish cause from effect. The author of the blog post, Tony Jarman of Your Homes Newcastle, points out the dangers of box-ticking to qualify for funding in an areas that “has to be actively managed”. He outlines the areas of skill and expertise that are required and the planning and monitoring pre- and post-retrofit that must be carried out. Otherwise, as he says, energy efficiency could become “the villain of the piece” and that would serve no-one.

Going back to that conversation I had, it’s all about “active management” of ventilation. Draughty sashes aren’t comfortable, but properly maintained and used as originally intended sash windows provide excellent draught-free ventilation. Sealing them up and bringing ventilation to an abrupt stop allows damp to build up. Apart from being uncomfortable to work in, damp is very dangerous for any building and will lead to a host of problems. Draughtproofing yes, lack of controlled ventilation no.

Older, not colder: warmer homes for older people

Older, not colder

older, not colder

Older, not colder: warmer houses have multiple benefits for the older population. The UK’s housing stock is among the hardest and most expensive to heat in Europe.

Older, not colder: we were struck today by a report released by AgeUK looking at the effects of being cold on our older population. Specifically, it focussed on hard to heat houses and the costs associated with that.

Wide ranging report

The report ranges widely to cover health issues and excess deaths, managing and understanding bills and different energy delivery systems, the different challenges posed by different housing types and proposes a solution: an ambitious government-funded reftrofit programme to bring housing up to the required standard.

The report’s point can be summed up by these two paragraphs:

The rising costs of energy and the difficulties of having a hard-to-heat
home mean that many older people on low incomes fear not being able
to pay their energy bills and are being forced to ration their heating, during
even the coldest weather.

Many older people who are faced with the stark choice between heating
or eating end up rationing both with disastrous effects on their physical
and mental health and wellbeing.

Benefits of energy efficiency programme

The benefits of bring up to standard our most inefficient housing (that in bands D to G) would be manifold. Housing brought up to spec would stay that way, gas supplies would be brought permanently to areas currently without that option, claner and renewable fuels could be used more widely, and that’s before the cost benefits to the NHS.

Powerful reports

Including facts and figures, infographics and upsetting case studies, the report packs a punch. Read in conjunction with the NEA’s report on the shocking daily cost of needless cold-related illness, we hope those in a position to make the appropriate financial contribution will pay attention and take action.

Download the PDF here.

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Landlord energy efficiency obligations

Landlord collaboration

EcoFlap in HABM Magazine Jan/Feb 2015

Ecoflap in HABM Magazine Jan/Feb 2015

Our primary aim at Ecoflap is to provide the most effective letterbox draughtproofing solution that (not very much) money can buy and that’s fitted in five minutes. It’s simple but a great deal of engineering expertise has gone into it, together with a clear understanding of draughtproofing, insulation and retrofit issues and the Ecoflap’s place within that.

Clearly Ecoflap has a role for the individual consumer and we champion that with comprehensive information online and thorough pre- and after-sales care for those people who have quirky letterbox arrangements. However, Ecoflaps can also play a significant part in helping landlords, both private and social, to meet their obligations on energy and efficiency and to make their tenants’ homes more affordable to run.

Landlord information

We’ll shortly be adding a section to our website explaining the benefits to landlords of installing Ecoflaps in their properties (and outlining the new legislation on properties in bands F and G that comes into force in 2018, covered in some detail in this Guardian article and discussed in this ARC Window Films blog post) and the simplicity of installing Ecoflaps. We can work with landlords to accommodate irregular doors, and we offer a bulk purchase price and delivery direct to site.

HABM Magazine

With all this is mind, we were particularly pleased to be featured in the January/February issue of Housing Association Building & Maintenance magazine. If you’re a landlord, we look forward to chatting to you about helping your tenants to more affordable, draught-free and cosy homes.

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Retrofit energy efficiency

Ecoflap - retrofit energy efficiency

An Ecoflap retrofitted to a PVC door in a 1930s house

Retrofit energy efficiency “national infrastructure priority”

We were very interested in this UK Green Building Council article today “Home energy efficiency must be a “national infrastructure priority”, major coalition urges”. The article focuses on an open letter to the government, specifically Lord Deighton, Commercial Secretary to the Treasury, signed by 20 organisations across the environment, housing and construction sectors, urging heavy investment in retrofit energy efficiency measures.

Ageing housing stock

The letter emphasises Britain’s dire record on fuel poverty, excess winter deaths and cold, draughty housing stock, and comes as the group of signatories publishes the report A housing stock fit for the future: Making home energy efficiency a national infrastructure priority. The report sets out the wider economic benefits of increased home energy efficiency, eg job creation and decreased seasonal stress on the NHS, rather than simply lower bills for the individual, with an emphasis on retrofit energy efficiency for our rapidly ageing inter-war housing stock.

Low cost, simply installed and tremendously effective

Wherever you stand in the economic chain, increased energy efficiency, retrofit home by home, is undoubtedly desirable and beneficial and should be a priority. We entirely support this group’s calls for funding for retrofit energy efficiency, and would be very happy to play our part. Energy efficiency isn’t all about enormously expensive, disruptive and complex retrofit measures We recently heard a social housing official make two comments:

“nothing is cheap”

and

“boilers, insulation, double glazing: we’ve picked all the low-hanging fruit”

As a company providing a low-cost, simply installed and tremendously effective retrofit draught-proofing measure suitable for any house with a horizontal letterbox, no matter how old that house, we have to disagree. An Ecoflap complements and enhances any other energy efficiency measure. Insulate your loft, install a more efficient boiler and it’s only common sense to prevent that warm air getting out through leaky windows, but all these measures are slightly less effective if cold air is still coming through the letterbox and needing to be warmed up. If anything was ever low-hanging fruit, it’s an Ecoflap.

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