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Energy Heritage – A Guide to Improving Energy Efficiency in Traditional and Historic Homes

Date: 2008


Achieving national targets for carbon emissions cannot be accomplished without addressing energy wastage in domestic properties. Many older houses are inefficient, and their occupants face an increased risk of fuel poverty. These houses are often ‘hard to treat’ and pose challenges when it comes to the installation of energy efficiency measures, both large and small. This can be magnified when the building is of historic interest and care is required to conserve important and protected architectural features and fabric. Consequently, guidance on how to deliver energy efficiency in heritage properties is a sensitive matter.  

Key research Question

The project set out to develop a practical toolkit for building managers, specialist conservers and homeowners in historic properties that would provide guidance on how to implement energy efficiency measures within the restrictions and property types associated with such dwellings. 

Summary of activity

The guide incorporates background information on definitions and planning regulations relating to historic buildings and examples of common construction features. Details of the wider policy objectives regarding climate change and sustainability are also included.  

The report outlines a series of steps through which stakeholders can consider baseline measurements, assess funding opportunities and select the most appropriate intervention in areas such as insulation, draught-proofing and heating systems. In addition, a case study of a pilot trial project, which applied the guidance to several historic properties in Edinburgh, is presented.  


The case study was able to demonstrate that following the guidance led to notable savings in energy consumption, costs and carbon emissions, as well as reduced fuel poverty and higher comfort and satisfaction among householders. The building was more sustainable, but this had been accomplished with minimal impact on its fabric and appearance, and its conservation status was maintained intact. Successful implementation relied on a range of key factors. These included effective partnership working and adequate research into the various solutions. 


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