The ‘Fabric First’ approach to energy bill reduction
We’ve talked earlier on this blog about the 2016 Zero carbon targets and how likely these are to be mandated (or not).
Fitting more energy efficient boilers and radiators is a common method of trying to reduce energy bills, providing a carbon/environmentally friendly solution to issues. And with ever increasing energy bills making sure that the heating system is working as efficiently as possible is a key part of saving money.
But if the house is not properly insulated then no matter how effective your heating systems is, energy bills could still be higher than you would like.
What is the fabric first approach?
The fabric first approach concentrates on getting the building fabric right first. It works by ensuring that the house is properly insulated and airtight as a priority. This is before looking at what heating systems or radiators or renewable energy systems are needed to heat the property. It may mean that a smaller heating system could be fitted. As a result the building will be doing most of the work in saving energy, rather than renewables which may be added on afterwards.
Appropriately sized boilers can be more economical and efficient, and if a house can be fitted with the correct sized heating system, this will save on energy bills. By looking at the energy requirements of the property it means that the boiler can be sized to the heating demand –and minimised to save money. This does require calculating the heat requirements of the building and the predicted heat loss to ensure that the boiler fitted meets the heating requirements, however the better insulated the building the less heating is required.
Why Fabric First?
According to a WWF report over 27% of the UK’s carbon dioxide emissions come from the residential sector. To reach the carbon emission targets, part of the work that needs to be done involves making the housing stock more energy efficient, i.e. better insulated and more airtight, with appropriate ventilation, for both retrofits and new builds.
The Passivhaus and EnerPhit standards are low energy standards which take a fabric first approach. We’ve talked about what the Passivhaus standard is previously and this is a good example of how getting the fabric of a building right will reduce energy bills, saving money (and carbon emissions).
But having a more energy efficient building is more than just saving energy or reducing carbon – it can create a better living environment and help people out of fuel poverty. Take a look at #coldhomesweek for more information.
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