Introduction to energy efficient improvements to historic homes and listed builpdings.
Home energy use is responsible for 27 per cent of UK carbon dioxide emissions which
contribute to climate change. By following The Energy Saving Trust’s best practice standards, new build and
refurbished housing will be more energy efficient – reducing these emissions and saving energy, money and the
This guide is primarily aimed at the owners of the hundreds of thousands of historic homes in the UK which are
either listed or lie within a conservation area. In England and Wales Part L of the Building Regulations requires
that ‘sensible and reasonable’ energy efficiency measures be incorporated during refurbishment work and it is vital
that homeowners understand just what this entails. The case studies in this document describe recent refurbishment
projects on a range of historic homes dating from the 16th to the 19th centuries, all of which included energy
efficiency improvements. They illustrate just what can be achieved while taking into account a building’s historic
significance, performance characteristics, design and the materials it is made of (i.e. its ‘fabric’).
There is generally no reason why historic homes should not be reasonably efficient, comfortable and healthy.
Due to their special circumstances they may, however, be treated as special cases in terms of the energy
efficiency measures expected by the building control officer. It is important to consider how to reduce carbon
dioxide contributions to climate change in any construction work.
For a modest investment, energy efficiency features may quickly save money (especially as fuel prices are
expected to rise significantly in the future), while in some cases extending the useful life of the building.
With historic properties, the Building Regulations in England and Wales permit the building control officer to
adopt a ‘reasonable’ approach, balancing conservation of fuel and power against the need to conserve the fabric (it
is important that any changes avoid condensation problems, though). The finaldecision will depend on the
It may be regarded as reasonable to upgrade the fabric when undertaking extensive work anyway.
On the other hand, upgrading floors and windows, for example, may be judged quite unreasonable if done purely to
comply with the letter of the latest regulations, or some other well meaning but illconsidered reason.