Energy conservation

In South Wales we need to heat our buildings in winter and, as climate change occurs, there might also be a growing need to cool our buildings during the summer. Energy is getting more expensive both financially and environmentally, so it must be used efficiently and effectively. This means minimising energy use and maximising the effects of using it.

The older buildings in South Wales were built when coal was cheap and readily available, this means that many houses have fireplaces, if these are not used now they can be source of draughts. Buildings were also not built to any building standards that demanded good insulation and even today as many as 40% of newly built houses do not conform to current insulation standards. This needs to be addressed if we are to minimise energy use and wastage. It can be remedied through a mixture of modern technology and old fashioned good housekeeping.

  • Turn off appliances when not is use
  • Only use the energy that we need - turn down thermostats
  • Use appropriate efficient systems for space and water heating
  • Use low energy appliances and lighting
  • Design buildings to maximise natural heat and light
  • Use renewable energy sources
  • Use passive ventilation systems to help keep warm or cool
  • Site water boilers close to hot water taps

Insulation is a way of keep heat in, or out of buildings and is a vital part of energy saving in buildings. Heat escapes from all parts of the building, but as the figures below show, most is lost through the walls and roof.

  • Walls - 35%
  • Roof - 25%
  • Draughts - 15%
  • Floor -15%
  • Windows - 10%

The effectiveness of insulation and appropriate draught proofing are very important and there are many different types of insulation that can be used in buildings. So as well as choosing to insulate our buildings we can also specify a range of sustainable materials. There are a number of natural and recycled insulation materials that are as good, if not better, than conventional ones.

Good insulation and draught proving is therefore required throughout buildings. Part L of the Building Regulations will improve the energy efficiency of new buildings, but most work in South Wales needs to focus on retro-fit measures. These can include:

  • Cavity wall insulation
  • Loft insulation
  • Draught exclusion
  • High performance windows

It must also be remembered that in summer cooling in buildings is also important otherwise we can expend more energy and money on air conditioning. Using buildings to maximise climatic opportunities is therefore a good way of saving money and minimising the emissions of carbon dioxide.

Many of the retro-fit measures need a heat storage point, so that energy collected during the day can be used at night, this normally takes the form of a hotwater tank, so think twice before removing your existing tank to install a combi-boiler.

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