A badly maintained building cannot be an energy efficient building. That's the key message of SPAB's (Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings) 2012 National Maintenance Week Campaign at the end of November

The week takes place each year to remind anyone who looks after a building, regardless of its age, type or purpose, of the simple, achievable steps they can take to prepare for the worst that winter can bring.

This year NMW takes place from Friday November 23 to Friday November 30 and is likely to follow hot on the heels of the launch of the Government's Green Deal drive to make buildings across the country more energy efficient.

Since 2009 The SPAB has co-ordinated a ground-breaking research project into the energy efficiency performance of old buildings. Fascinatingly, results have shown that traditionally constructed properties perform better than commonly supposed. In fact, SPAB's on-the-spot research suggested that 73% of the traditionally-built walls sampled - including walls of limestone, slate, granite and cob - actually loss less heat than expected!

But another thing our research has shown, is that, no matter the construction, material or age of a building, if it is poorly maintained it cannot be energy efficient no matter what else you do to it. For example leaking roofs, faulty gutters and blocked drain can lead to dampness... and a damp building can well be cold and possibly unhealthy.                                                                      

While SPAB recognises that the energy efficiency of all buildings must be improved, the misapprehension of the degree of heat loss through traditionally built walls in particular could have negative consequences for historic buildings, potentially leading owners and professionals to adopt inappropriate energy-saving interventions that may be less effective than predicted, and also potentially harmful to the fabric of a building and to the well-being of its inhabitants. Too much of the wrong sort of insulation, for example, could actually lead to dampness.

With this in mind, SPAB's NMW campaign for 2012 goes back to basics, encouraging homeowners (and people who care for public buildings such as churches, village halls and local authority properties) to be aware of the very simple, economic and achievable maintenance steps they can take at the beginning of winter to stave off costly major faults and damage at a later date - and improve energy efficiency. Our ten tips to make a difference are below.

Good maintenance makes a positive contribution to sustainable living, but there's more to sustainability than saving energy. It's about making common sense decisions about our immediate environment - the places where we live, work and meet.

10 Tips to Make a Difference - National Maintenance Week 2012

1.    Maintain your building - catch problems before they catch to you.

2.   Repair your building - fix a leaky roof or blocked gutter and find the source of a damp problem - a dry house is a warmer house!

3.     Understand your building - allow surfaces to breathe and work with the original building construction and plan form

4.    Understand how much your building costs to run - do you know how much gas, electricity and water you use?

5.    Understand your behaviour in the building - do you have to heat the whole house and for what periods?

6.    Install efficient heating system and controls - design your heating system around how you use the building and make the controls as user-friendly as possible

7.    Control air infiltration - keep on top of internal decoration, carpet suspended timber floors, hang thick curtains, install window draught-proofing, secondary glazing or wooden shutters

8.    Get your insulation right - by all means insulate lofts and insulate underfloor voids, but remember not to block or impede ventilation in those areas as this can lead to problems

9.    Ventilate moisture away at source - remove moisture from bathrooms and kitchens before it circulates and condenses

10.   Pull on a woolly jumper and thicker socks! - it might sound simple, but this common sense solution can really make a difference

Article from propertyreporter.  If you would like any advice on any of the above, pleae contact: Robin Davie, Property Manager, on 0131 337 1800 or robin.davie@blaircadell.com


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