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Antony Antoniou – Luxury Property Expert

The Challenge of a £1,000 Monthly Heating Bill

The Challenge of a £1,000 Monthly Heating Bill

Juliette’s Journey to Net Zero Transformation

As the moist British summer season fades away, households throughout the UK are preparing for the inevitable drop in temperatures, leading to heightened energy consumption for heating. While energy costs have decreased from their earlier peaks this year, the average household is still projected to spend approximately £1,959 annually on power bills, as reported by Cornwall Insight. However, what if your energy expenses far exceed this amount? What if you’re confronted with a £1,000 monthly heating bill? That’s the situation that Juliette Morgan found herself in.

Three years ago, when Juliette purchased her home in Somerset, she took pride in its use of renewable energy, powered by an electric boiler, a stark contrast to neighboring properties relying on heating oil – a source the government aims to phase out by 2026. Nevertheless, the green energy she championed came at a hefty price. When winter sets in, Juliette’s monthly heating bill skyrockets to a staggering £1,000.

The primary culprit behind this financial dilemma is her home’s construction, with stone walls and floors that are slow to heat and expensive to insulate. Despite her dedication to renewables, Juliette’s property boasts one of the lowest energy ratings possible, earning an F-rated energy performance certificate (EPC), just one step above the lowest rank.

The idea of renovating her home to enhance its energy efficiency and, consequently, reduce her bills is a daunting one. The costs associated with such an endeavor are substantial, particularly for a single homeowner. With potential requirements for window, door, and boiler replacements, Juliette estimates the total cost to be around £45,000.

Paul Ansell, an EPC assessor at Greenfish Consulting, sheds light on the unique challenges posed by Juliette’s property. This sandstone solid building, constructed prior to 1900, showcases a common wall build-up in the region. Nevertheless, due to its thickness and composition, it offers insulating properties equivalent to a mere 15mm of Rockwool, whereas modern houses adhere to stricter insulation regulations, requiring 150-200mm of Rockwool equivalence. The sandstone’s thermal mass further slows down the heating process, making the electric boiler work harder and longer to reach the desired temperature.

Addressing these issues comes with potential solutions. Internally insulating the walls using Celotex, albeit a more invasive approach, is recommended. This could cost between £4,000 and £14,000 but promises savings of around £600 annually, accompanied by a 12-point boost to the EPC. Single-glazed wooden windows, a source of substantial heat loss, could be replaced with UPVC double-glazed windows at an average cost of £3,300 to £6,500, leading to savings of £628 annually and a 7-point EPC increase.

With the roof space converted into occupied living space and adequately insulated, the absence of a gas supply in the area necessitates a specialized heating system. Juliette’s current setup relies on radiators powered by a “direct-acting” electric boiler, boasting 99.9% efficiency. An alternative proposed is an air source heat pump, promising higher efficiency and potential long-term savings. The installation could cost between £7,000 and £13,000.

Ian Mather, a renewable heat expert at British Gas, provides further insight. The property’s unique build, with its heat-retaining capabilities, offers comfort even without active heating for a few days. Unlike the direct electric boiler, a heat pump could achieve efficiencies exceeding 300%. For Juliette, the annual heating demand stands at 18,195 kWh. Comparing costs, the electric boiler amounts to £5,458, whereas a heat pump’s efficiency would bring it down to £1,819, yielding an annual saving of £3,639 and a lifetime saving of £54,585 over 15 years.

Considering an investment in a high-temperature heat pump, radiator upgrades, and a new hot water cylinder at around £14,000, the return on investment could materialize in less than four years. Notably, these calculations are based on average occupancy, while Juliette’s property registers lower electricity usage.

Ventilation and moisture management are essential aspects of this overhaul. Proper assessment and planning must be implemented to prevent moisture-related issues. Juliette’s observations of flagstone flooring sweating highlight the importance of moisture release during improvement projects.

The addition of a solar panel system, generating 2992 kWh annually, paired with a battery and optimized controls for the heat pump, could save £821 per year with an outlay of around £11,000. This combined solution could reduce carbon emissions from 10 tonnes to 2.1 tonnes annually, vastly improve the property’s EPC rating, and result in a more sustainable future for Juliette’s home.

In conclusion, Juliette’s journey toward a net-zero home involves careful consideration of her property’s unique characteristics and energy needs. While the initial costs may seem daunting, the long-term savings, increased comfort, and environmental benefits make the journey worthwhile. Whether it’s upgrading insulation, switching to a heat pump, or harnessing solar power, Juliette’s pursuit of an energy-efficient haven demonstrates that taking steps toward a greener future is not only possible but also financially viable in the long run.”



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