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Heat flow in buildings
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Reducing the heat loss

To reduce the heat loss will depend upon the age of the dwelling as newer buildings will have a much higher standard of insulation than older dwellings. Some aspects of reducing heat loss are easy but others will require the help of specialists.

Not all buildings have the same heat insulation standard; older houses throughout the EU tend to have less insulation and newer houses have much more. For example prior to 1965 there was no formal requirement to install any insulation in UK homes but today it is recommended to have 300 mm minimum insulation in the gap between the ceiling and the roof .

Windows
To reduce heat loss it is possible to replace a single glass pane with two (or even three) glass panes within the same window frame. To prevent convection of heat between the panes, the space between is either partially evacuated or filled with an inert gas like argon. Whether it is necessary to replace the window frame will depend upon the type and condition of the frame and how well it is sealed into the opening in the wall.

Walls
The highest thermal energy savings can be reached by insulating the walls. If the wall has a cavity between the outer and inner wall then it can be insulated at any time. If there is no cavity then the walls can be insulated internally or externally. External insulation is not easy as it also requires weather proofing and will generally require installation by a technical specialist.

Special reflection foils made of aluminium can be stuck to the wall behind the radiators so that they are not visible. Heat will be reflected from the radiator back into the room minimising the heat to be lost through the walls.

Roof and floor
A variety of insulating materials exist for both roofs and floors. If there is access to the loft space between the ceiling and the roof, an inspection will determine the level of insulation. If this is insufficient to prevent heat loss (now 300 mm in UK), it is generally possible to add additional insulation at relatively low cost for which a grant or subsidy might well be available. If there is no loft, then insulation can only be added beneath the ceiling if height allows or on the roof if it is flat.

It is generally not possible to check whether there is any insulation under the floor unless the house has wooden sprung floors. Only new houses are likely to have insulation under the floor. Floor carpets do provide some level of insulation.

Thermostats
Very often the same temperature is maintained in all parts of the home. But there is no need to keep all the rooms equally warm – the living spaces are the most important whilst the bedrooms can be cooler. Sometimes it may be desirable to have a higher temperature, for example in the bath room, and this is often done by a local electric heater. Contrary, higher temperatures are sometimes reached in the kitchen due to the heat coming from the cooking process.

One of the easiest ways of saving energy is to regulate the temperature! This can be done by installing thermostatic valves on radiators so it is possible to vary the temperatures in each room. With a programmable thermostatic regulator, the temperature can be reduced when the family is out of the home, at work, school or on holiday. Setting the temperature down by 1 degree saves about 6% of heat energy! A room which is not used for longer times may be heated only to 16C rather than 20C for normal occupancy.



 

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