A report into the island’s current and future energy needs has highlighted the need to properly insulate older properties.

The Gemserv report was commissioned by the gov to identify potential solutions to turning the island’s energy production green.

In its overview of the island’s residential building stock, Gemserv found that ‘uninsulated, pre-1965 homes make up just 7.5% of the overall housing stock but account for over 20% of the island’s total domestic heat demand’.

It adds: ‘Targeting the most thermally inefficient properties with building fabric improvements therefore has great potential to reduce the total heat demand of the island, which directly correlates to reducing the carbon footprint of heat.

‘These heat decarbonisation scenarios for the Isle of Man follows a “fabric first” approach – conducting these thermal efficiency measures before the subsequent installation of low-carbon heating systems. An aim of completing all building fabric improvements by the year 2030, or at least before heating upgrades are made, is recommended.’

What we have found interesting is that this section of the report is good for people living in their own house, or at least in rented housing. However, for those living in flats or houses of multiple occupancy, these issues would be harder to rectify.

Four Reasons

Germsev offers up four reasons why making improvements to building fabrics is of greater value than immediately replacing the heating systems.

Firstly, it can be done pretty quickly and the result is that the energy needs, and emissions output, would decrease ‘rapidly’. This quick decrease in energy and heat demand would make the task of converting remaining heat demand over to low-carbon sources easier.

Secondly, if a home keeps heat better then it reduces to power needed to heat it effectively. Heating systems that require less power to work are cheaper, resulting in cheaper bills and ‘potentially increasing levels of disposable income’.

Thirdly improved efficiency increases the number of which can use low-carbon heat pump technology cost-effectively as heat pump efficiency is linked to the overall heating retention of the building.

And fourthly if the island opts for a method of heating which focuses on biomass/biofuel, this would require a lot of land. The lower the heat demand, the fewer the acres needed. Equally if there is a lower demand on energy overall, then the cost of upgrading the electricity network goes down.

The report adds: ‘This study has identified which building fabric improvement measures are achievable under three payback period scenarios – a 5, 10, and a 20-year payback period. The shorter payback periods inevitably focus on the most cost-effective upgrades, excluding “expensive” measures such as double glazing. The 5, 10 and 20-year periods were carefully selected to sensibly parameterise how many measures are included in each scenario. The total capital cost of all these renovation measures has been determined under each payback period scenario along with the corresponding total heating energy demand reduction. Additionally, the number of installers required to complete all installation measures within the three-year time frame (2022-2025) and eight-year time frame (2022-2030) has been derived.’

Options

Improving building materials can include options such as the ones outlined by Gemserv below. However this list is not exhaustive, these just reflect the most widely used measures in the UK. The report said that Gemserv chose not to include cavity wall insulation ‘due to issues of damp resulting from “wind-driven rain” on the island’.

You can find the full report here.

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