Properties built a hundred years ago or more can be the most difficult to treat. They were built in a time without central heating, double glazing or even cavity walls. Because these houses were often larger, with higher ceilings they lose their heat quickly. Each room was normally heated by a fire, this would radiate heat out to the walls and floors and objects in the room which would keep them warm long after the fire had gone out. But fires need good ventilation to keep going, but to also ensure the occupants weren’t choked by the smoke.

When we swapped fires for boilers and central heating we had a problem. Radiators heat air, which in older properties leaves by natural ventilation, very quickly. As soon as the heating goes off, the air leaves the room and it cools down.

When planning to renovate a property in south Manchester we took this in account and worked out a strategy to deal with it. Aesthetics meant that we could externally insulate all the way round, so we insulated the outside of the gable end and internally insulated the front and the back of the property. Externally insulating adds thermal mass to the inside of the insulation layer, which means when its heated up it stays warm for longer. We could use the thick brick walls of this older property to our advantage. By adding triple glazed windows and a good layer of roof insulation we have more than halved the energy bills of the property.

There are many options of insulation to use, but in this build we used wood fibre insulation and lime plaster to further help the thermal mass of the walls. Lime plaster has the added benefit of helping to regulate internal moisture levels, meaning that condensation and humidity are better controlled.