We’ve looked this up before haven’t we?

Three things. First, £9 billion is not huge: it is just a blip in the £100 billion that is required to be spent each year to deliver the Green New Deal, and leaves the vast majority of houses thermally inefficient still.

Citation needed.

And when we do go look it up don;t we find that most of the housing stock is already insulated?

22 thoughts on “We’ve looked this up before haven’t we?”

  1. There was a CT thing on it. We’ve done the low-hanging fruit that are worth doing, what’s left is the 17th century cottage that would have to have major structural work, so, spend the money on planting thousands of trees would be a better idea.

  2. How the hell do you define thermally inefficient? All houses are thermally inefficient if they leak heat. Insulation is incremental. If your first go at it reduces heat loss by 20%, your second go at 20% reduces the remaining 80% by 20%. 16% of your original heat budget. You cannot get to zero & each iteration costs you more, because you did the most cost efficient one first.
    Most houses will be at or near their economic thermal efficiency already.

  3. Incidentally, we saw the costs of economically inefficient thermal efficiency in a tower block not long a go. Measured it in lives.

  4. bloke in spain.

    I spent some time thinking on this problem, and it’s pretty much loft insulation and cavity wall. The payback on new windows and boilers is over 20 years. So what you should do is get more efficient ones when you’re replacing them anyway.

  5. Here is the great man on insulation projects 5 years ago.


    Was the Australian experience a success or not? He waivers from one view to the other in 2 responses.

    Richard Murphy comedy gold.

    These projects have been done and done – CERT, ECO etc. There must be hardly anyone left who hasn’t got insulation but who wants it, and who would qualify for assistance. That target group is harder to find.

  6. BoM4
    Another rather obvious thing is insulation economic efficiency depends on the difference between the outside & inside temperatures.. For half of the year in much of the UK, that’s trivial. For some of the remainder, loft insulation may be a net disbenefit. A house can benefit from heating from insolation on the roof & heating of the roof space. But loft insulation cuts you off from it. Hence the economic decisions people actually make. They accept higher energy bills in the winter because the economic efficiencies of insulation only occur in the winter. The benefit isn’t there throughout the year.

  7. And the purpose is? Oh yes stopping the global warming that stopped in 1996 and reversing the climate change that isn’t happening, or might happen in 50 years, or 100 years or is it 200? Climagheddon is a moveable feast.

    But. Assuming preventing heat loss will reduce energy consumed, makes the classic mistakes of leaving out the Human talent for not acting as predicted and required, plus changing one variable but assuming other variables will remain constant.

    The Human body adapts to the ambient temperature. On a cold day, go out for a walk and return home where the temperature indoors is 16C. It feels toasty warm, but after a bit, brrrr. Turn the thermostat up. And the body gets used to that too particularly if inactive. The incentive to keep the thermostat down, is cost. Take away the cost, so it will be no more expensive to heat the house to 23C as heating it to 20C so people will turn up the heating and more heat energy will be used.

    Last Century during the oil crises, the recommendation was 18C. Older room thermostats have a mark at 18C on the dial – digital these days. People got used to 18C. Then the crises were no more, energy prices went down comparatively, helped by privatisation, and 20C became the new norm.

    And better insulated houses become stuffy and suffer condensation problems, so need forced ventilation – exhausting warm air and pulling cold air in. Absent a ventilator people will just leave windows open.

    Energy saving light bulbs: people don’t switch lights off as they used to when they leave a room, have more lights on too. Why? Doesn’t cost as much to run them. The marginal saving at power stations which have to keep running anyway, is minimal.

    But Holy Climatism has a science and reasoning of its own, not of this World, nor this Universe.

  8. John B – I go for a walk in the winter, come back to a 28C house and its nice and warm.
    I put up with thermal shock over a dozen times a day in order to keep warm.
    Heating is off for the moment (switched it off just before 9am today), temperature is merely 26C so will put it back on later this afternoon.
    Thermal shock this time of year is less.

    We have considerably better than normal insulation in the loft and had wall insulation about 20 years ago through one of the government schemes. Nothing else left to add that government provides.
    Heating bill a mere £2500 – £3000 a year – about 12 years ago with an old back boiler it was about £4500 a year. And gas costs have risen since.

  9. John B – ref insulated houses becoming stuffy & condensation.

    I refurbished a 1980s bungalow a few years ago with underfloor heating, double glazing, renewed wall & lost insulation and…..massive condensation problem (humid air has nowhere to go in a bungalow) and have had to install forced ventilation to cure it. Unfortunately the ventilation doesn’t come on if the temp in the loft is 19c or above so recently as the heat rises in the house it just stays hot.

    Maximum insulation does have some negatives

  10. I’m pretty sure my house is already close to economic thermal efficiency (thanks BiS). But we always have windows open because we’re used to fresh air, and in winter that requires us to heat more.

    I’ve convinced myself that a lot of modern ills (increased childhood asthma and other allergies) are caused by many growing up with little exposure to outside air.

  11. “spend the money on planting thousands of trees would be a better idea”: no! Just fence a patch of land against grazing animals and the trees will plant themselves. This has a higher success rate than planting.

  12. Wasn’t there a story last week about people having sleep problems because houses were too warm at night, which would suggest insulation isn’t an issue

  13. “thermally inefficient” as used by Spudster is an accounting trick. X energy goes in, Y energy goes out, divide, be Shocked by how low the number is….

    Except that this doesn’t tell you where and how the energy actually leaves your house… And only some avenues are in the realms engineering can actually do something about.. And there’s this bit about Physics and Entropy where energy must move from A to B to generate work..

    Every couple of years TUD ( Delft Technical University) (proto)Boffins build a “Home of the Future” in which they toss everything + dog in current technical possibilities that can be done to a habitable box, including the “energy efficiency” thing.
    The best they’ve been able to achieve was 80-ish% total energy efficiency. And that was only achieved by basically turning the whole thing into a set of coupled reversible heat-exchangers, including the floor, walls, and the drains…

    Of course, this means the “building” itself is always rather high-strung, and not really pleasant to actually live in.. Take a shower the wrong way, or flush a loo at the wrong time, and you could easily mess things up..
    As a demonstration of prototypes and technical capability the thing works, but no-one sane would expect much of it to be practical or economical to incorporate into new buildings, let alone existing ones.

    Of course, the Envirohippies aren’t sane….

    A friend of mine has one of those gimmicks the Envirohippies are clamouring for( a low-gradient heat exchanger charging a battery taking the input heat from the warm water effluent in the drains. ) installed under his floor, as part of the Important Research whether or not the thing will stand up against daily use by mr/mrs. + two daemonspawn tomboys young ladies for an extended period of time.
    Beautiful and deceptively simple-looking bit of machinery, that after now over 6 months still does what it says on the box.
    So my friends’ hallway and staircases are lighted, and his wheelchair gets charged solely on that thing…. At the cost of near €20k, figuring in installing it…

    Does it work? oh yes… Is it practical? possibly. Economically viable for a standard home? Hellz no…
    Then again.. the thing is designed with intended use in appartment blocks and/or rest-heat from industry in mind, so using it in a normal home may be considered overkill.. So YMMV….

  14. Piss on ALL green bollocks.

    Fight it–don’t debate it–that gives it undeserved legit status–its ALL bullshit.

  15. we find that most of the housing stock is already insulated?

    Not only is most of the stock insulated, but a significant portion of that part that is not is made up of really ancient buildings where historic preservation codes *make it illegal* to insulate them. Because your building is from the 1600’s and you’re required by law to keep a thatched roof and single-pane windows.

  16. John B
    June 29, 2020 at 1:51 pm

    . . .

    The Human body adapts to the ambient temperature. On a cold day, go out for a walk and return home where the temperature indoors is 16C. It feels toasty warm, but after a bit, brrrr. Turn the thermostat up. And the body gets used to that too particularly if inactive.

    I do the same thing but in reverse. Because I live in a desert where it gets over 115F/46C I keep the AC set to 82. This does two things – one, I find that when keeping it low I get used to the low temperature making any time I need to go outside even more unpleasant (going from 82 to 110 is ‘oh, its kinda hot out here’, going from 76 to 110 is ‘oh, the gates of Hell have opened’) and to keep costs down (for 8 months out of the year my electric bill is $100 or less, during the summer it can hit $300/mo).

  17. Air is a good insulator and does not by itself carry many calories. It’s the humidity that robs the heat.
    Most of the effort of your ch boiler goes to warm solid objects: walls, furniture and yes window panes. So you can ventilate your house with several cycles of air per hour without getting a significantly higher heating bill.
    From experience of flu and cocid, striking particularly at folk in sub standard accommodation,I suspect winter flu etc should be relabelled “indoor” flu.
    People have a phobia about draughts, hence the poor circulation. Keeping the same air means it becomes more humid (from exhaled breath). People are more sensitive to humid air than dry air so the better the insulation against draughts the hotter you feel you need to be comfortable, so you end up using more fuel.

  18. @Philip: spot on.

    The PPEdots who claim to rule us tell us to turn on the heating only in the room we are using when we are in it.
    This is a recipe for hot&stuffy rooms that still feel cold. The air is hot, but all the structure is still cold, and we feel that radiation imbalance.
    Also, it causes all the moisture (breath etc) to condense causing mould and health problems.

    Far better to keep the heating on, to a lesser level, but constant, so that the structure is moderately warm, and dress according to the season.
    Less condensation, and less rainwater damage on the outside too.

    But there’s no explaining science to these clowns with their solar panels that work in the dark.

  19. £9 billion is not huge – it “only” £270 for every employed or self-employed person in the UK, about weeks JobSeekers’ Allowance for each person on the dole. So if you’re made redundant as a result of Covid-19, Murphy wants to pinch 4 weeks JSA from you for his latest fad.
    It isn’t huge but it’s still a ridiculous demand. If you were on the dole would *you* give up 4 weeks’ dole for anything, let alone insulating Murphy’s house?

  20. Why does Murphy’s house need insulating? Isn’t it a newbuild estate box? Shouldn’t it already be as insulated as possible. Or does Spud have a mis-selling claim against the builders.

  21. Most people talk about this are looking at the material properties – thermal coefficients of walls and windows. They tend to forget about drafts which are often dominant in poorer housing. So we regulate windows for k value and double glazing putting up the cost of better frames in replacement windows making improving the life of the energy poor harder, then make people put holes in the frames for air quality! If you do it properly in new build you need to think about air exchange with heat recovery in winter (and vice versa in summer) to get low energy housing and high air quality. It also means you have most of what you need in place to then add air conditioning and air filtering ….

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *