In the UK tabloid papers lately there have been one or two alarmist reports that the UK governments “green” drive to get people to insulate their homes will be forced upon owners of older houses.
Is there any truth in this, or is this another example of sensationalist reporting, far from accurate, just to sell papers?
Most people know and realise the benefit of installing exterior wall insulation to older homes, but there are fears that in the enthusiastic rush to do this, many older homes will lose their character.
What the papers say about exterior wall insulation
The Daily Mail reported recently on this topic and said the government have suggested that those people who agree to insulate their homes could be offered a reduction in stamp duty or council tax.
They went on to suggest that the “face of Britain’s suburbs” could be in for a permanent makeover under plans to make our homes more environmentally friendly?
They said that Millions of homeowners (Although I am sure that’s an exaggeration) will be encouraged to clad the exterior walls of their properties with up to eight inches of insulation in a bid to keep them warmer and cut energy costs.
Outside wall insulation is only suitable for SOME homes.
Whilst the concept of having an old, solid wall house, clad or covered in insulation brings many benefits and many savings on heating bills, unlike cavity insulation, exterior wall insulating systems are intrusive and consist of some major work, affecting the appearance of the house.
In fact some heritage campaigners fear these proposals will threaten the historic character of many neighbourhoods, especially if the traditional brick façade and period features of millions of Victorian and Edwardian-era homes are ruined by modern cladding.
Stop ruining our homes!
They left behind the debris of their work with poorly applied coatings, and wall coatings sprayed onto gutters, pipes and many homes with character ruined with the application of an unsuitable coating.
A house needs careful looking after and, for the exterior walls, it has to have some suitable and sympathetic. Its no use putting modern insulated cladding on a Victorian home with features and moulding, which would all be lost.
What are the government proposing?
Under the new Green Deal scheme, to be launched in October 2012, an extra layer of insulation would be added to the outside walls, which could then be rendered and painted as a smooth stucco finish, or would have brick slips applied, to resemble the original brickwork or in a colour of the homeowner’s choosing.
Climate change minister Greg Barker is backing the plans as part of the coalition’s Green Deal, which will launch in October. The £2.5billion fund aims to provide low-interest loans to 14million homeowners so they can undertake other home improvements also, such as double glazing.
To qualify, they will have to show the work will make their home more energy efficient and indicate the steps they take will eventually cut heating costs.
Mr Barker said cladding Britain’s seven million solid wall properties would create jobs and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. He added: ‘We have some of the worst performing buildings in Europe.
‘More than half of our homes don’t have sufficient insulation. They leak heat like a sieve.’
Treasury Approves £200m for People Who Take Up Green Deal Scheme in First Year
The green deal website proudly says……
………..Chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander has announced the approval of £200m to be used as an incentive for the public to pick up the Green Deal scheme when it is available for homeowners in October 2012. Both the business community and NGO’s welcomed this announcement as another step towards the successful roll out of the Green Deal scheme.*
I say: Where has the money come from? I thought the UK was broke?
What do the heritage people think about this?
Any scheme to help people insulate their homes is a good thing, but it has to be taken with good sense and although the government are not forcing people to do this. the home owner must also make a decision whether this type of exterior wall protection will benefit their home, but ruin the appearance?
English Heritage warned that adding external insulation to older homes could destroy their traditional façades and in addition, The Victorian Society, said:
‘Insulation covers up details like window lintels, leaves eaves without overhangs and creates an odd appearance around cornices. It changes all the proportions of the building.’
So it is important to bear in mind the character of your house, and of course its surrounding, because if your home is a house in a street of brick houses, and yours has a render coating on it, it is going to ruin the whole street!
So if external insulation cladding is unsuitable, what other options are there?
Well the most obvious choice would be to insulate internally and there are various systems and products (none of which we offer, sorry), that can insulate your home from the inside. These are not as effective as exterior insulation but if done correctly, can certainly bring some benefits.
If you have a solid wall home but do not want cladding on the outside, you can have a different system such as the NPA textured masonry coating we offer via this website which are suitable for most homes and cut damp, cold walls, and wind chill, providing a moderate amount of insulation.
Never paint again also offer thermally insulated render, which is far more versatile than fitting cladding and brings a great deal of exterior thermal retention benefits, just ask your local insulation agent for more details and samples.
If you have a cold house then having exterior insulation fitted can only be a benefit, especially with financial help, but make sure your house is not going to look daft when its done as there are other systems available too.
* UPDATED FEB 2018, This article was written a few years ago and the green deal scheme has now ended