Whole-Home Retrofit Approach: Definition and Energy Efficiency

In the United Kingdom, there’s a huge push towards more environmentally-friendly homes. The goal is to cut overall greenhouse gas emissions by 78% by 2035. This is an ambitious goal, and encouraging home retrofit is a huge part of this goal.

Did you know that the UK homes are the leakiest in Europe with up to one-fifth of carbon output being attributed to the lack of proper environmental standards in these homes? The UK government is investing £5bn within the next four years to reach their projected goals.

You can help this happen by doing your part and getting better energy efficiency in your home. Your home retrofit will save you money in the long run because fuel prices are increasing all the time and you will be saving a lot of money on home heating.

What Is a Retrofit?

When you retrofit a house, you are making additions or changes to a house that weren’t part of the structure at the time of building. When a house is retrofit, usually you’re making improvements to the energy efficiency of the home.

What Is a Whole-Home Retrofit Approach?

When you look at improving the energy efficiency of your home, you need to consider how you can get it to a net-zero energy level. Doing this involves more than one step and will require several different approaches. You are looking at several measures that need to be taken and different types of retrofit work.

Change the Boiler

One of the main sources of emissions is from home heating systems. You can check your boiler’s efficiency by locating its Seasonal Efficiency of a Domestic Boiler in the UK (SEDBUK) rating. After April 2018, all boilers installed in the UK had to have a rating of 92% or better.
Did you know that around a third of boilers on the market – and quite possibly in your home – fall below the 92% mark? If you have an older model, it’s almost guaranteed that it’s far below this rating.

Modern Condensing Boilers

With most boilers, you’re losing heat up the flue (the pipe that extracts fumes and supplies fresh air to the boiler). Modern boilers are much more efficient. They are condensing boilers.

A condensing boiler has a larger heat exchanger, so it recovers more heat, a sends cooler gases up the flue. This means less heat is lost, leading to better use of the heat produced by the boiler

The difference between the modern condensing boilers can be based on the type of fuel. Gas is the cheapest form of fuel, there are also boilers that use oil and coal if you don’t have a gas supply to your home.

There are also differences in function between boilers;

Conventional boilers – is a heat-only system. This means you will have a hot water tank where hot water can be stored for later use. This requires space and works for a larger home.

Combi boilers – heat water as you need it and take up less space because they don’t store water. These are great for smaller spaces. 

System boilers – similar to the heat-only boilers but with more components built-in. They do take up space, but not as much as the conventional ones.

Did you know that part of the government’s £5bn grant is helping you get an energy-efficient method of home heating? You may be eligible for a boiler grant, so you should check it out.

Smart Thermostat

British Gas recommends using a Hive smart thermostat can save you up to £120 every year. There are many benefits to using a smart thermostat beyond saving money. It can help you reduce your carbon footprint because you’re not heating an empty house and you aren’t heating the house while you’re sleeping cosily under your blankets.

Upgrade Your Appliances

Older appliances will often not have gone through an energy efficiency testing process. Modern appliances carry an energy label that rates them on their energy efficiency. The A+++ is the highest and G is the lowest rating.


You want to get the best rating for the size of the appliance. The energy consumption of an appliance is reflected in its rating. 

Floor Insulation

Before undertaking floor insulation, you have to ensure there is no damage from damp or rot and make repairs. You also need to ensure floor insulation doesn’t block ventilation openings.

Many homes have cement floors. You can lay rigid insulation on top of the cement to insulate these.

If you have floorboards over joists and can access them from the cellar, it’s a simple matter to install mineral wool insulation. This can be supported by netting between the joists. Alternatively, you can lift the floorboards and install the insulation from the top.

With proper floor insulation, you can save up to £70 annually

Loft and Wall Insulation

Loft insulation is often overlooked.  Laying quilts of insulation between the joists in your loft is an easy solution and will save you lots of money. If you already have insulation, it may need replacing if it’s been there for more than 15 years.

Insulating external walls can be more complex depending on the type of walls in your home. If it was built more than 100 years ago, it probably has solid walls rather than cavity walls. 

With solid walls, there is no gap, so you can’t fill them with cavity wall insulation, however, you can insulate them from inside or outside. This will increase your energy efficiency and save you money in the long run.

A cavity wall is more straightforward. If the insulation is insufficient or needs replacement, it’s a much easier process. Insulating a cavity wall is less expensive, but both will save you a substantial amount on your heating bill and increase the efficiency of your heating and cooling systems.

Who Can Help With the Cost of a Home Retrofit?

We’ve made many suggestions about how to reduce the cost of heating and cooling your home and increasing its energy efficiency. A whole-home retrofit approach has many benefits, but it does carry a fairly weighty upfront price tag.

The good news is that there are many ways to reduce this upfront cost. The UK has invested a lot of money to make this less difficult for you financially. You can ring our team today and we will help you find all the grants you’re eligible for to help you make your home retrofit more affordable.

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