Its a new government initiative that will hand out grants for between £5000 – £10,000 towards the introduction of Energy Efficiency Measures (EEMS) specifically aimed at this countries aging housing stock. 

Construction Manager magazine published by the CIOB produced an article in the Sept 2020 issue, that explains how the PAS 2035 standard for retrofitting homes will operate. 

There are hundreds of thousands of Victorian and pre and post war homes in the UK that were built with solid walls. Solid wall describes walls usually constructed of masonry units referred to as brick bats of common size (215L x 100 x 65H)  and these were laid in such a pattern or bond as to provide a structurally sound and stable wall of either 9″( 225mm) or 13″(330), depending on the number of storeys.  

Victorian homes were built with open fireplaces, usually in every room and these were for many the only source of space heating, fueled by coal and wood.  

Windows were wooden or steel single glazed, and with age became draughty with the only barrier between the outside and inside being a relatively thin pane of 4mm float glass, in front of which a pair of full drape curtains were often placed to try reduce the effects of drafts.  

These factors contributed to naturally well-ventilated homes (otherwise known as draughty), cold but nevertheless relatively free from condensation. 

Skip several decades forward with the introduction of smokeless zones to reduce poor air quality the method of heating for many suburban homes changes from coal to electric storage heaters (remember those?) or for the better off gas central heating. With escalating fuel bills everyone became more aware of the need to reduce air leakage into the home and keep the warmth in. 

Then enters double glazing, originally not thermally broken so in its earliest form prone after a short while to condensation in the inner pane, of course keep those windows shut to keep the heat in, seal up the fire place and stuff newspaper in the air bricks switch those supplementary Calor gas bottle heaters on and you have the perfect indoor water cycle of moisture laden warm air with nowhere to deposit its moisture accept on cold surfaces…..and i could go on to describe the domestic daily living chores that that provide a constant source of water vapour but i wont. 

So what’s the point…. its this, the aging housing stock that makes up a large percentage of the UK property portfolio, will likely have had about as much modernisation that its age or heritage status can cope with without tearing the heart out of them! Adding insulating to the internal face of external walls will create all sorts of problems, both aesthetically and technically, so in short it isn’t going to happen and certainly not for £5000. 

So before you rush to invite new emerging so called experts around who will be eager to help you part with your money on promises of have now pay later, stop and think about the things that you can do. Maintain the gutters, avoid cement pointing, don’t coat the walls with products that promise the impossible, open windows to allow moisture laden air to escape, especially during activities that generate lots of moisture, keep the trickle vents open, don’t switch off extractor fans but do make sure they are cleaned regularly running efficiently and terminate direct to fresh air and not the roof space!. Don’t fill your loft with household stuff that compresses and displaces insulation, and I could go on and on.   

The new grant sounds like its going to benefit thousands of households but it remains to be seen just what realistically can and will be achieved. We await with eager anticipation the comments and recommendations of IHBC, RICS, CIOB and of course, last but not least the RIBA.

Its sounds to me like another promise that appeared as a slogan on the side of a campaign tour bus that travelled the country raising hopes and expectations that it couldn’t ever deliver on.