Effective Tips For A Warmer House Extension
One of the most important things to consider when you’re planning a house extension, an internal reconfiguration, or designing a new open plan kitchen/diner is how you’re going to heat it (and keep it warm!)
Whether you’re planning a big open plan space with large windows and a high ceiling, or a smaller space extended out to the side of your home, you don’t want to be feeling a winter draft coming from your bi-fold doors, or find that your space just can’t retain the heat!
Here are Pride Road’s top tips for ensuring your beautiful new house extension won’t be cold!
1. Room Layout
To make the most of your heat source it’s important to make sure that your room layout isn’t causing any issues. For example, it may be cosy to have your sofa right in front of the radiator, but it will impede the warm air from circulating around the rest of the room and it will never quite get warm enough. It’s also true of heavy curtains hanging over the radiators and blocking the airflow (consider those curtains for the 40% of the heat that escapes from your home from uncovered windows!)
By optimising the flow of your room you will ensure that hot air from your heat source can easily reach all parts of the room, and can’t escape either!
Insulation is one of the most efficient ways to keep your extension warm in the winter and cool in the summer. A huge amount of lost heat (about a third) escapes through the walls, and The Energy Saving Trust estimates that in one year a typical three-bedroom semi-detached house can save up to £310 on energy bills with proper insulation – which means that insulation pays for itself.
Proper and effective insulation will ensure that you don’t waste energy or money. If you don’t get this right, you will have to spend a lot more money on a heating system that covers the energy needs of a poorly insulated extension. There are several ways to insulate – some more important than others – the roof or loft, cavity walls, tanks, pipes, radiators, floors, solid walls – if you’re not sure which ones are best for your extension, reach out to your designer or architect for help.
Ventilation is, of course, important as it helps to minimise condensation and prevent damp. However, uncomfortable draughts are not helpful, allowing cold air into your home and heat to escape.
If you’re building a new house extension, much of the draught-proofing work will be done as part of the process – new windows and doors will have the appropriate seals, and materials with airtight breather membranes will be fitted as standard. However, if you’re doing an internal reconfiguration or have a draught in your older home – you may also need to do invest in better doors, windows and flooring.
4. Boiler Upgrade
An inefficient boiler not only costs you money, but also leaves you struggling to heat your space with barely warm radiators. Taking steps to improve your boiler’s efficiency, or even upgrading the boiler is a necessary step to keeping bills low and your new house extension warm.
Some things to consider; regular servicing, keeping the boiler clean, bleeding your radiators, topping up the pressure, Powerflush, insulating the pipes and if all else fails – upgrade! If your boiler is more than 10 years old, it may be time to replace it with a more efficient boiler.
5. Reflect the heat
Your radiator radiates heat both into the room and to the wall behind it. That heat can simply be lost to the outside, especially if you have thin walls. If you don’t have already, consider installing radiator reflectors.
Reflectors are easy to install, relatively cheap, and guarantee that your radiators heat up the room instead of the walls. They are installed behind the radiator and help prevent that heat from being lost by reflecting the heat back into the room.
6. Zone Your Heating
In many homes, heating is provided by a central boiler, moving heat through a series of radiators, controlled by a central thermostat constantly measuring the temperature in the house. The thermostat is set to keep the temperature at a certain level and the boiler will switch on and off to keep the temperature consistent. The issue with this system is the location of the thermostat – if it’s in your cosy living room then the rest of the house might not get warm, but if it’s in a draughty hallway then your living room might become too hot! The solution – zone your heating!
Creating a set of temperature zones is easy to do. Many radiators are fitted with thermostatic valves. These control the flow of water through that radiator, and therefore the temperature of the room. This way you can ensure that you are not spending excess energy to heat a room that is hardly ever in use, or which you only pass through on your way to another area.
7. Phase Change Materials
Thermal mass is useful for storing solar heat energy and helps prevent overheating. As a domestic building material, you usually see it as stone and masonry. But, there’s an alternative. Phase change material (PCM) is a substance that changes its state – solid to liquid or liquid to solid – with a change in temperature, meaning it is capable of storing heat energy.
Energy efficiency expert Tim Pullen says: “Good phase change materials can store 14 times as much energy as concrete. But how does it work? PCM typically contains tiny pellets of a form wax (a solid), that melt (become a liquid) as they absorb heat and then release that heat as the ambient temperature falls; the pellets then solidify.”
8. Secondary Glazing
A major benefit of secondary glazing is the heat-retention properties. It is known for being a cost-effective way of improving heat retention and sound reduction in your home, as well as providing some additional security. Also worth mentioning is that it is considerably cheaper and easier to fit than replacement windows because it doesn’t require complete removal and replacement of your existing windows. Because of this, it’s a worthwhile option for listed buildings and areas where planning permission rules do not allow any aesthetic changes to the external windows.
10. Air Exchange Unit (MVHR)
A mechanical ventilation and heat recovery unit (MVHR), often referred to as a domestic heat exchanger or simply an air exchange unit, can be a great way of reducing your heating costs. This will however only work if your home is suitable, meaning your home needs to be as airtight and well-insulated as possible. The less air leaks, the better the heat recovery unit will work.
A recent Pride Road project in Didsbury invested in an air exchange unit, supplying their zoned underfloor heating and hot water. This heating system cost around £12k – but there is a bi-annual rebate. Pride Road client Ann says that as a result, her heating costs are “really low – they’ve gone right down.” Also “because of all the renovations, the house is better insulated, really warm now.”
With so many options available, there is no reason why with the right planning and budget, you need to have a space which you’re afraid to use or heat! If you’re unsure which options are going to be most suitable for your plans, why not engage an architect? Pride Road offer free initial consultations where we come to your home and carefully listen to your needs and ideas. We discuss your budget and make sure that you are aware of all required permissions, current regulations and a time frame involved.
Do you want to design your dream home on a budget? Thinking about extending your house, getting a garage or loft conversion, or reconfiguring the kitchen? Pride Road Architects can help. Click here to find your nearest Architect.