Home Insulation Makes Little Difference To Energy Consumption–New Study

From NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW THAT

By Paul Homewood

h/t Ray Sanders

An unusually frank piece from the Guardian!!

Conservatories and house extensions could be helping to wipe out the reductions in gas use secured by insulating homes, according to a study that found insulation only provides a short-term fall in energy consumption.

In a surprise finding, the study into the long-term effect of loft and cavity wall insulation in England and Wales showed that the fall in gas consumption for each household was small, with all energy savings disappearing by the fourth year after it had been fitted.

Policy experts at the University of Cambridge said the findings suggested a “rebound effect” in energy use, where changing behaviour cancelled out the reductions in gas use. They also suggested that fitting insulation often happened alongside the building of house extensions, which use extra energy. For households with conservatories, any gains in energy efficiency disappeared after the first year.

The government and opposition parties have championed the retrofitting of homes with insulation as a way of dealing with the energy crisis. Ministers have announced insulation retrofits as a leading part of a programme to reduce the energy consumption of buildings and industry by 15% over the next eight years. Labour has said insulating homes should be a “national mission” that could save people £11bn in three years.

However, researchers said that while insulation was vital for fighting fuel poverty, it was not a “magic bullet” for reducing energy use and should come alongside advice to conserve energy and programmes to install heat pumps in homes.

Researchers said it was hard to identify the exact causes of the rebound effect. However, they stated that turning up the heating, opening windows in stuffy rooms or building extensions could all contribute. They made clear that in circumstances such as the current cost of living crisis, it was possible that energy savings from insulation could be more significant and longer lasting.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/jan/01/rebound-effect-cancels-out-home-insulations-impact-on-gas-use-study

This has actually all been very obvious for a long while, and did not really need an expensive study to prove it.

Energy efficiency is not something new dreamt up by the climate lobby. It is a natural process whereby technology continuously improves the products we buy and the way we live. Cars, for example, are twice as efficient as they were even twenty or thirty years ago; they did not need government mandates to make it happen.

But as energy efficiency improves, along with the cost of things we buy, we have more money to spend in other ways. In terms of energy, most people, I suspect, would use better insulation to enjoy warmer homes, not reduce bills.

Equally they will tend to buy conservatories etc, which will increase energy consumption. And, yes, people will open windows to let fresh air in – we have our bedroom windows open at night even in mid-winter.(No doubt the Guardian would be horrified!)

If people want insulation, fine – let them pay for it. But it should be a “national mission”, paid for by taxpayers, as the Labour Party want. And it certainly will not save the planet!

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David Wojick
January 1, 2023 2:14 pm

No surprise. There is a huge research literature on the rebound effect on energy efficiency.
See https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=0,49&as_vis=1&qsp=1&q=%22rebound+effect%22+energy+efficiency&qst=ib

Of course the utilities ignore it because they make big bucks off their ridiculous efficiency programs.

David Wojick
Reply to  David Wojick
January 1, 2023 2:20 pm

The Inflation Reduction Act has a $4 billion program to measure rebound.
https://www.cfact.org/2022/08/28/home-efficiency-rebate-roulette-under-inflation-reduction-act/

You buy the improvement then get a rebate depending on actual energy savings, if any. I call it rebate roulette.

strativarius
Reply to  David Wojick
January 1, 2023 3:13 pm

$4 billion… roughly the price of a SLS /Artemis spacecraft

Not cheap

John Hultquist
Reply to  David Wojick
January 1, 2023 7:22 pm

“rebound”
Thanks, David. Saved me the trouble.
I wonder, did anyone study health and happiness?

niceguy12345
Reply to  David Wojick
January 2, 2023 8:08 am

I don’t see how you get from
“rebound effect”
to
“ridiculous program”
LOL

Paul S
Reply to  David Wojick
January 2, 2023 10:27 am

Maybe I am a bit dense, but I haven’t quite figured out what the “Rebound Effect” is. Can someone explain in layman’s terms what it is?

Editor
Reply to  Paul S
January 2, 2023 4:34 pm

As I explained in an earlier comment: It is really very very simple. The savings from insulation – and there can be substantial savings – are spent on something else. Those people are then significantly better off, because they can now afford that ‘something else’ that they couldn’t afford before.

The ‘rebound effect’ is those people buying that ‘something else’. All the papers that I have seen (admittedly not many, I hate self-flagellation by reading dumb papers) get everything ar$e about face. The dimwits (aka experts) have the nonsensical notion that the purpose of saving energy eg. by insulating is to cut energy usage. It isn’t. The purpose of saving energy is to save cost and thus have more money to spend on something else – which typically will involve the use of energy. And that’s because, as I said, energy is the foundation and principal driver of modern civilisation.

Brendan
Reply to  Mike Jonas
January 2, 2023 5:31 pm

Thanks. I saw Sarah Hoyt mentioned this on instapundit – without comment – but I am guessing it was to disparage it.

I am a heat transfer engineer and the first thing I thought was balderdash. And I was right. The left doesn’t want people to enjoy their lives. Frankly, they don’t mind high energy bills because it causes people to use less energy. Having a warmer house that costs less out of pocket drives them nuts.

As an aside, here in California electrical costs are 0.3 to 0.5 $/kwh. I have seen poor people who can’t afford energy and have their power disconnected because of the Gaia worship. It’s disgusting and irritating. But the left are not hypocrites. Since all they believe in is personal and party power, this is a feature, not a bug.

rckkrgrd
Reply to  David Wojick
January 3, 2023 10:09 am

How is that?

Decaf
January 1, 2023 2:16 pm

I love this website. Never a disappointing read to be found. Thank you.

Smart Rock
January 1, 2023 2:39 pm

Opening windows to get fresh air…

That’s a personal choice. I do it too in my old house in Canada, but not when we have the central heating on.

Well insulated houses with tightly fitted windows should have an air-to-air heat exchanger that allows ventilation without losing significant amounts of heat. Stuffy, unventilated houses are not good for the health of the people who live in them. Insulation contractors should be required to tell customers about heat exchangers.

MarkW
Reply to  Smart Rock
January 1, 2023 4:49 pm

If they are being paid to install heat exchangers, I doubt you need to force contractors to tell consumers about them.

Timo- Not That One
Reply to  Smart Rock
January 1, 2023 6:07 pm

I just spent Christmas at my son’s forced air, gas heated, North Florida apartment, when temperatures dropped to minus 8°C at night.
We were very aware of when the furnace kicked in, because it rapidly became uncomfortably cold while it was off.
At home in Toronto, you don’t notice any fluctuation at all, even at minus 20.
Insulation makes a big difference. How people use that difference is the only factor here.

derbrix
Reply to  Timo- Not That One
January 2, 2023 2:11 am

I live in a brick house in the northern panhandle of Florida that was built in 1939. There was insulation in all the outside walls when I bought the house in 2015, but none in the ceiling. During a recent remodel, the electric heat pump was upgraded to a 20 SEER unit and spray foam applied to seal off everything from the underside of the roof to the ceiling. A remarkable difference in comfort compared to the old electric heat pump and no ceiling insulation whether heating or cooling. Plus the electric bills went way down.

sciguy54
Reply to  derbrix
January 2, 2023 10:49 am

A good suite of insulation is usually a very wise investment. Be careful, though because terrible mistakes are made every day. I am old enough to remember a 1970s push to insulate the roof directly under the decking and shingles. Within a few years shingles in the southeastern US began to fail because the insulation led to higher surface temperatures on sun-baked exposures which cooked out the volatile fractions of the asphalt shingles. I now see a big push for similar systems and await the fallout.

rckkrgrd
Reply to  sciguy54
January 3, 2023 10:19 am

A little knowledge is essential and some mistakes are inevitable with poorly trained or inexperienced installers. That same effect could be noticed in cool climates as well. Ventilation is essential.

IAMPCBOB
Reply to  Timo- Not That One
January 2, 2023 10:26 am

Most thermostats today, especially the latest models, have a setting that determines when t\\heeh the furnace switches to ‘ON’. They range from .5 degree F to 3 degrees F. (The AC can also be set) If the furnace is set to 3 degrees (usually the default) it WILL get mighty cold before the furnace turns on. I keep mine set to .5 degrees. Even then, with the insulation in our house, it can get pretty cool before the heat turns on. Not a lot of people know that. You might have to search for the users manual online, or there might be a little switch inside the case.

nutmeg
Reply to  IAMPCBOB
January 2, 2023 3:27 pm

Some people also end up with problems the other way. A house without good insulation that is set to 0.5 degrees will have the heat turn off for less than a minute before turning back on, which reduces efficiency and shortens the life of the equipment.

rckkrgrd
Reply to  IAMPCBOB
January 3, 2023 10:23 am

It is important to make certain that the thermostat is not exposed to incidental sources of heat such as direct sunlight, or a location immediately above your desktop.

stevekj
Reply to  IAMPCBOB
January 3, 2023 11:22 am

Yes, I investigated this characteristic carefully, because I wanted to set my thermostat to the maximum possible range of temperatures (basically the hysteresis value). This was because in spite of the detrimental effect on personal comfort, I wanted to maximize the cycle time of my heat pump for efficiency. The heat pump is slightly oversized, so I don’t want it kicking on and off every minute. I had to buy a new thermostat with a larger range of settings to get one that allowed 1.5C (or around 3 F).

niceguy12345
Reply to  Smart Rock
January 2, 2023 8:11 am

During the COVID wave, they said home windows every 20 minutes. Some people really did that.
Might as well not have heating, or live outside!

Rud Istvan
January 1, 2023 2:40 pm

I think this study is silently dependent on local UK construction methods, where in the UK proper insulation can be very problematic with older homes.

The original part of my dairy farm now 4br, 2 b farmhouse was a log cabin (great room, kitchen, sleeping loft) dating from about 1885. Foot thick square hand hewn oak logs gave plenty of old fashioned insulation. Two expansions, one in the 1950’s and another about 1975. Both newer builds allowed for plenty of fiberglass wall/ceiling insulation. So we regularly manage 2 months on 1 500 gallon propane tank with our modern high efficiency (95%) forced air furnace, plus the cellar wood double wall blown firebox plumbed into the propane furnace plenum when we are there in winter to feed it. About 4 full cords (not face cords) per winter weekends. Not unusual to have winter night outdoor temps at the farm well below 0F with wind, so all the windows are winter poor farmer double paned (summer screen outer inserts, winter glass inserts giving a 3 inch thermal dead space).

David Wojick
Reply to  Rud Istvan
January 1, 2023 3:53 pm

Not exactly standard construction.

Bill Parsons
Reply to  Rud Istvan
January 1, 2023 8:18 pm

You are leaving it up to the uninformed (me) to figure out what it costs to fill a 1,500 gallon propane tank. Google says about $3,600. Six months like that would run you nearly $11,000. What am I missing?

Insulation matters unless you open your window in the wintertime. Then you are paying for fresh air.

Tomsa
Reply to  Bill Parsons
January 1, 2023 9:21 pm

I read Rud’s statement to be one space 500 gallon tank, not 1500 gallon tank

Bill Parsons
Reply to  Tomsa
January 1, 2023 10:29 pm

Oh. I did misread it.

In any case, one thing is clear: materials and heating sources don’t matter if they are not installed into a tightly built structure. I enjoyed watching a series of videos of a father / son log cabin build in Canada, though I was thinking, “Yeah, I stayed in a log cabin in the Colorado mountains once.” (I sat by the stove all night.)

It looked like their structure overcomes the issues of draftiness just by the care they took to build it with precise measurements and craftsmanship.

The video is called, “Father & Son Build their Dream Log Cabin in the Canadian Wilderness (FULL BUILD)”

IAMPCBOB
Reply to  Tomsa
January 2, 2023 10:32 am

I went back and reread it, too, and my old bleary eyes ‘thought’ it said 1500 gallons, too, until I blinked and then RE re-read it!

rckkrgrd
Reply to  Bill Parsons
January 3, 2023 10:33 am

And contributing to your UHI.

strativarius
January 1, 2023 2:57 pm

If it’s one thing Labour is good at it’s squandering eye-watering sums of taxpayers money

Politicians are highly selective about the evidence they accept – eg Professor Nutt

“”The sacking of Professor David Nutt as the government’s chief drugs adviser again underlines the sheer toxicity surrounding even the very debate surround the reclassification of illegal substances – an issue that has dogged Labour governments in particular.””

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2009/oct/30/professor-david-nutt-drugs-sacking

I like not this evidence, bring me some other evidence…

Last edited 28 days ago by strativarius
JamesB_684
Reply to  strativarius
January 1, 2023 6:08 pm

The U.S. Congress squanders eye watering sums of money as well, as it provides myriad opportunities for laundering vast sums into the pockets of Congress members family members and controlled corporations. Indirect bribery is high art in Washington D.C..

MCourtney
Reply to  strativarius
January 2, 2023 2:55 am

If it’s one thing Labour is good at it’s squandering eye-watering sums of taxpayers money

You should see what the Conservatives do. They have to sack their leaders regularly when they run out of our money. (Truss lasted less time than a lettuce as she doubled down on Conservative economic principles with speedier results).

They use their magic money tree all the time, for bungs to themselves (Lady Mone, for instance).
But their famous Magic Money Tree is our money.

DavsS
Reply to  MCourtney
January 3, 2023 5:26 am

Sunak and Hunt are indeed as clueless as Labour when it comes to magic money.

Tom in Florida
January 1, 2023 3:13 pm

They are addressing energy consumption without regard to how the consumption affects the quality of their home life. If you use X amount of energy to heat a non-insulated home, you may be cool and need to wear extra clothing. You can use the same amount of energy to heat your insulated home but enjoy a warmer, more comfortable atmosphere. So while the energy consumption may be the same, your quality of life will be better. Unless you are like my brother who likes wool hats, heavy sweaters, jeans and boots.

David Wojick
Reply to  Tom in Florida
January 1, 2023 5:03 pm

Yes, that is classic rebound.

strativarius
January 1, 2023 3:30 pm

French reactors – or their being offline – will make a difference

“”France is uncomfortably close to energy rationing as a result of issues it is having with some of its nuclear power plants, a report by The Times has claimed.

If true, the news does not bode well for many countries in Europe that rely upon France for some of their electricity, with both the UK and Germany depending on the country for some of their power.””

https://www.breitbart.com/europe/2023/01/01/european-energy-crisis-france-close-to-electricity-rationing-over-problems-with-local-nuclear-plants/

Insulate that!

Duker
Reply to  strativarius
January 1, 2023 7:17 pm

PARIS, Dec 11 (Reuters) – French nuclear output surpassed 40 gigawatts (GW) for the first time in nine months this weekend as the country experiences a cold snap,..’

That was Dec 11

Looking at generation right now they are exporting 8.3GW and nuclear is 32.6GW in middle of night

Rationaing, I dont think so

strativarius
Reply to  Duker
January 2, 2023 12:14 am

We shall see

Elliot W
January 1, 2023 3:31 pm

Was that scolding I heard about opening windows for fresh air? Gah! Weren’t we just told to do just that to reduce virus spread in rooms? Weren’t German (and other) schools told to open the windows for ventilation ten minutes every hour, no matter how cold outside, to keep covid at bay?

I can’t keep up with virtue signal changes anymore.

Duker
Reply to  Elliot W
January 1, 2023 7:12 pm

That was before covid testing , vaccines and anti-virals.
Its 18-20 months on since that was the only way to reduce spread without shutting schools

Do try to keep up

Elliot W
Reply to  Duker
January 1, 2023 10:11 pm

Duker, let’s examine your statement.
Fewer than half the kids in Canada under age 12 have taken the Covid vax . Schools (in Canada at least) don’t test for Covid. Numerous public health statements in various countries over the past two years recommend schools leave windows open as ventilation is inadequate; Germany had actual guidelines.

Do try to keep up.

BCBill
January 1, 2023 3:32 pm

As a Canadian, I have to note that the article headline, “Home Insulation Makes Little Difference…..” is a bit imbecilic. Of course it makes a difference, a huge difference. The content of the article makes it clear that insulating even makes a difference in retrofitting old homes in the UK. What doesn’t work for the woke is that people who save money by insulating choose to spend their savings on more heating. Clearly, we are back to the one answer that Klause and Billy G. want us to discover, which is that dramatic population reduction is the only way to save the world from ourselves.

Van Doren
Reply to  BCBill
January 2, 2023 1:58 am

It depends on how the house is built. Here in Germany, we have many massive houses with high thermal capacity walls. If you put EPS on such walls, then solar gains are mostly killed, and there are no significant energy savings. Insulation does make a big difference on poorly built houses, of course. And, speaking of Canada, don’t you have massive timber houses? Because such houses absolutely don’t need additional insulation.

rckkrgrd
Reply to  Van Doren
January 3, 2023 10:48 am

Obviously you have never lived in Canada. Massive timber houses are rare and usually need insulation as well, especially in ceilings. On a minus 40 night you will use massive amounts of fuel unless you are very well insulated.
Massive thermal wars slow cooling and heating but are not a heat source of value unless behind glass where they act something like a battery to store heat for later release that is of value if contained.
I think you will rarely be comfortable in a stone house without supplementary heating.

rckkrgrd
Reply to  rckkrgrd
January 3, 2023 10:49 am

Walls not wars.

E. Schaffer
January 1, 2023 3:39 pm

You need the air circulate anyway. If it does not happen cause of unintended leaks, you will simply to have to open the windows. And some extra plastic on the wall does very little to reduce radiative emissions. All this home insulation is a great way to waste resources, and to increase fire hazard.

Sweet Old Bob
Reply to  E. Schaffer
January 1, 2023 5:26 pm

“You need the air circulate anyway. If it does not happen cause of unintended leaks, you will simply to have to open the windows. ”

Or , use an air to air heat exchanger…

ever check out passive solar houses ?

My WUWT Acct
January 1, 2023 3:44 pm

I’m not surprised. Even relatively affluent people (i.e., not rich), in well insulated homes, invariably rely on aircon and heating rather than changing clothing level and bedding to control comfort. I used to do this too. Then I got rid of my aircon and went back to opening windows and doors and using fans plus suitable clothing. My electricity bills fell back to ~50% of what they had been. ~50% of my energy use was due to laziness induced waste.

In my worthless opinion, insulation is only supposed to reduce extremes of hot and cold (and nor does it need to do more). Looking back this was the original purpose and intent of owners of existing homes applying ceiling and wall insulation. The owners simply wanted to reduce the impacts of hottest days and coldest nights by a few degrees. But aircon proliferated at the time as well. This morphed into people trying to live in an “environmentally-controlled” home, which led to higher electricity usage and new expense.

I’m not for or against. I just personally don’t like high bills or living cut-off from the outside and its cooling sea breeze, or experiencing a squall, the sounds of birds, noticing what’s going on.

But a new baby is always going to be more comfortable in a temperature and humidity-controlled room. But if it’s used for more than reducing the impact of weather extremes then power consumption doubles.

All that the efficient insulation ends up doing, at this point, is reduces the expense of getting to temperature and humidity-controlled rooms. But this is not thermal ‘efficiency’, this is indulgence and waste.

I’d rather use the windows, fans, clothing and bedding and rely on the insulation to reduce the worst extremes and save thousands of dollars a year. And obviously, I’m in the minority with this.

Last edited 28 days ago by My WUWT Acct
Chris Hanley
Reply to  My WUWT Acct
January 1, 2023 4:01 pm

Bully for you, those cost-saving measures you choose to do can be done whatever the cost of electricity for lighting heating cooling etc.
It should be a choice not be forced on a population by their own government’s policies for no good reason and as others have said the less well-off have no choice.

My WUWT Acct
Reply to  Chris Hanley
January 1, 2023 5:33 pm

Did I say anything about any of that?

You’re listening to your own mental narrative.

cilo
Reply to  My WUWT Acct
January 1, 2023 10:56 pm

Acting like a grown-up and putting on a jersey may save some money, but I think the health benefits of not snorting your own farts far outweigh the social status of an electrified cocoon.

E. Schaffer
January 1, 2023 3:50 pm

And btw. the most effective way of reducing heating costs, is large windows to the south. We could all benefit from the actual greenhouse effect 😉

My WUWT Acct
Reply to  E. Schaffer
January 1, 2023 5:40 pm

Not all, for people in the tropics, the last thing I want is more sunlight in my home, or more humidity GHG effect.

E. Schaffer
Reply to  My WUWT Acct
January 1, 2023 7:18 pm

Guess for people in the tropics heating is not such a big deal..

Tom in Florida
Reply to  E. Schaffer
January 2, 2023 5:59 am

But cooling is

rckkrgrd
Reply to  Tom in Florida
January 3, 2023 11:00 am

And hurricane resistance which is not much affected by insulation.

Adam
Reply to  My WUWT Acct
January 1, 2023 7:33 pm

Or in climates that don’t see much winter sun like Oregon coast.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  My WUWT Acct
January 2, 2023 5:58 am

Living in Southwest Florida with my home facing west, I have planted trees in front to shade my house in summer. I also invested in low-e windows. These actions keeps my house cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter (when we actually do get a few days of winter like this year). The windows had a lengthy ROI but knowing I was going to stay in this house forever, I am already past that point.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  E. Schaffer
January 1, 2023 6:24 pm

For that you need sunny days as well. It really doesn’t work too well without. Then you are best to insulate the windows, especially if there’s a cold wind .

John Hultquist
Reply to  E. Schaffer
January 1, 2023 7:33 pm

I took out 60 sq. ft. of windows — west facing — and replaced that with 8 sq. feet.
Less loss of heat in the winter, and less heat and brightness in summer afternoons.
Situations vary.

rckkrgrd
Reply to  E. Schaffer
January 3, 2023 10:58 am

Relative to your area location orientation but useful in cooler areas if combined with awnings or overhangs to prevent summer heat build up. I used east and west facing windows as there is very little sun can come from the south on my lot in the dead of winter. design your house to suit your location.

David Wojick
January 1, 2023 3:51 pm

The economist Jevons famously said in the mid-1800’s that energy efficiency might actually increase fuel consumption because it made energy cheaper. In insulation the standard case is that one then turns up the thermostat because it can be warmer for the same money. The unit price of warmth, which is what you are buying, has gone down so you buy more.

rckkrgrd
Reply to  David Wojick
January 3, 2023 11:04 am

And is there something undesirable in making comfort affordable? I would by a Tesla or a Caddy if they cost no more than my second hand soccer mom van.

wilpost
January 1, 2023 4:04 pm

Insulation does not reduce annual energy consumption for heating, cooling and electricity?

Bull manure

My 3500 sq ft house, built in 1987, is highly insulated and sealed, uses about the same energy, Btu/y, as a 2000 sq ft house, for heating, cooling and electricity.

I have had 35 years of savings, which far exceed the little cost of the additional insulation and sealing in 1987!

If I were to build the same house to-day, with up-to-date systems, it would use 1/3 less energy per year

There are a lot of government-subsidized charlatans, who charge a lot to get a little savings. It is best to ignore THEIR accomplishments

Last edited 28 days ago by wilpost
David Wojick
Reply to  wilpost
January 1, 2023 5:04 pm

You have missed the point about rebound.

wilpost
Reply to  David Wojick
January 1, 2023 6:07 pm

My house has not “rebounded” for 35 years, and will for many more years for future owners.
Passive solar gain is an important aspect, even during New England winters.

rckkrgrd
Reply to  David Wojick
January 3, 2023 11:06 am

There is no logical point.

nutmeg
Reply to  wilpost
January 2, 2023 3:42 pm

You opted for a 3,500 sf house instead of a 2,000 sf house. The energy rebound is built in from the beginning. As the article stated, you haven’t reduced consumption one iota; you just have a better house for the same price.

Rick C
January 1, 2023 4:12 pm

Home insulation is a classic example of the law of diminishing returns. One you get to R19 in walls, R30 in ceilings and decent windows and doors, adding insulation’s benefit is less than the cost. That means air infiltration dominates the potential for further savings. But the best you can due there is add air-to-air heat exchangers. If you go overboard on sealing against infiltration you end up with “sick building syndrome” with excess humidity, mold growth, rotting wood structure and other problems.

We’ve known this since the 80’s or so. There is really not much to be gained from trying to make buildings more energy efficient beyond upgrading very old poorly insulated buildings.

MarkW
Reply to  Rick C
January 1, 2023 4:58 pm

That depends entirely on where you live.
In Iowa, the standard home had R25, using 2 by 6’s for the outer walls, with R50 in the ceiling.

commieBob
Reply to  MarkW
January 2, 2023 5:49 am

That depends entirely on where you live.

I was raised on the great plains. As a young person I would hear stories about British people living miserably in uninsulated houses with drafty single pane windows and external water pipes. Apparently they had to put coins in the gas meter and they would rather freeze than stuff the meter. Also apparently, the government owned all the houses. Naturally I thought they were stupid to live in such conditions.

wilpost
Reply to  Rick C
January 1, 2023 6:19 pm

There are plenty of highly sealed residential buildings, such as Passiv Haus buildings, with 0.6 air changes per hour, as tested, and 85% efficient air-to-air heat exchangers, that provide 0.5 ACH 24/7/365, that have no sick building issues, and are comfortable year-round.

Again, there are a lot of charlatans, who design houses for clients, but hardly know what they are doing, which gives all the other buildings bad press.

rckkrgrd
Reply to  Rick C
January 3, 2023 11:19 am

I go to R60 in ceilings as it is not costly. Use loose fill and add a little to allow for settling. Walls are less important as most loss is through windows and doors, The best windows and doors are very expensive without a lot of gain, so the ROI will be long.The cheapest upgrades include sealing against air leaks, ceiling insulation, and crawl space insulation. Upgrading heating and ventilation systems can be cost effective in the more extreme climates.
New construction is a different kettle but research into net zero or something approaching it may be worthwhile.

observa
January 1, 2023 6:13 pm

I have to chuckle as sparky son (rolling in it as scarce tradeys at their peak are) engages in a massive expansion reno including changing all windows and external glass doors to new double glazed ones. Now he has ducted RC aircon and he has upped the rooftop solar panels but then the 13M long and wide tiled concrete pool with heat pump heating will certainly need it.

Double glazing in South Australia’s Mediterranean climate is real overkill although inevitably with renos like this the joint ends up with panoramic glass everywhere. I can’t recall the site but there is a New Zealand website with test results showing that internal cellular (honeycomb) blinds could beat all comers including plantation shutters and double glazing for insulation but the beautiful people need their view.

observa
Reply to  observa
January 1, 2023 6:29 pm

Correction:
Beats magnetic optical acrylic double glazing- https://www.consumer.org.nz/articles/curtains

Drake
Reply to  observa
January 1, 2023 6:53 pm

I have the “honeycomb blinds”, cellular shades in the US, on my cabin. The make a big difference in the winter especially at night even though we have dual glazed vinyl low E windows.

We always open the south facing shades to give us out view when we getup, and close them when the sun goes down. Any room not occupied, they stay closed.

An above comment mentioned passive solar and with our cabin’s primarily south facing great room windows the winter sun will allow us to let the FP burn out before noon on sunny calm days. I will restart the FP again an hour or two before sunset. We have a reasonably tight cabin but when the wind is really blowing, we do burn more wood. And as to manana (how do you do a tilde?) I have one window that was never properly caulked when the cabin was built. I can’t do it in the winter, but have forgotten to do it in the spring, summer and fall for 15 years. Maybe this spring? BUT the cellular shade on that window helps to keep the draft WAY down.

Duker
January 1, 2023 6:33 pm

Cars, for example, are twice as efficient as they were even twenty or thirty years ago; they did not need government mandates to make it happen.

huh ?

This absolutely not true
Through the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975, Congress established fuel economy standards for new passenger cars starting with model year (MY) 1978. These standards were intended to roughly double the average fuel economy of the new car fleet to 27.5 mpg by model year (MY) 1985′

The manufacturers made cars smaller , indroduced front wheel drive ( unusual for US made cars at the time), made engines smaller, new tech for engines such as fuel injection and other ways to save fuel

Van Doren
Reply to  Duker
January 2, 2023 2:11 am

The cars are not twice as efficient. My 1986 Corolla was at 33 mpg, my current 2017 diesel BMW is at 37-42. And for 42 I have to drive like an 80-years old.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Duker
January 2, 2023 6:06 am

Keep in mind the phrase “fleet”. So they made enough small engine, light weight cars to offset the more popular vehciles they sell to increase the fleet average. And those averages were based on test tracks with overinflated tires to increase the average mpg even more. As usual, the government ideas may sound good on paper but have real limits in practical use. Much like low flow toilets and water sensing washing machines.

Last edited 27 days ago by Tom in Florida
Bruce Cobb
Reply to  Tom in Florida
January 2, 2023 7:21 am

In defense of low-flow toilets, their design has improved over the years. We recently replaced our old toilet with a 1.28 GPF (American Standard) one, and it works fine. Saving water saves some money, which is nice, but if you happen to have a septic system, like we do, then it takes some of the pressure off of it, which can be an issue if it is particularly rainy and/or ground water levels are high.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
January 2, 2023 7:57 am

Are you speaking of the toilets with two flush buttons? One for yellow and two for brown? Then yes agree.

astonerii
January 1, 2023 6:49 pm

Always depends on the weather and current insulation. Kind of like gas mileage.

If you start with 8 miles per gallon and 10,000 miles, you consume 1,250 gallons of fuel a year.
If you get 16 miles per gallon and 10,000 miles, you consume 625 gallons, saving 625 gallons a year.
If you get 24 miles per gallon and 10,000 miles, 417 gallons, only 208 gallons saved.
32 per gallon and 10,000 miles, 313 gallons, 104 gallons saved.
40mpg and 10,000 miles, 250 gallons, 63 gallons saved.
the savings get smaller and smaller and smaller.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  astonerii
January 2, 2023 6:13 am

Or if you like driving fast and hard, you don’t care about MPG or cost of fuel. I bought a V6 in a smaller SUV because I like the availability of power and quickness when I need it. I get about 20 MPG around town, mostly because of the way I drive, but do not care about that or if Greta says “How dare you!”.

Peta of Newark
January 1, 2023 6:50 pm

I (think) I recall seeing this story in the Telegraph much earlier but here is the one I bookmarked..

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/blog/2011/feb/22/rebound-effect-climate-change

Effectively what’s described is Jevon’s Paradox, where improvements in efficiency cause increases in overall consumption

We are governed by fools and incompetents guided by self-seeking kindergarten-grade science – and have been for quite some time.

Grauniad Rebound Original 2011.PNG
Duker
Reply to  Peta of Newark
January 1, 2023 7:22 pm

Its because we are usually buying more appliances especially ones that live on standby as well.

My new fridge is more efficient as it uses DC motor ( marketed as inverter technology) so that it variable speed rather than the old one was either off or on ( and noisier)

Its saving roughly 0.5 -1 kWhr per day but wasnt the reason to buy it , but its nice the have

It doesnot add up
January 1, 2023 6:57 pm

There’s NOT missing from the penultimate sentence.

ATheoK
January 1, 2023 7:15 pm

Policy experts at the University of Cambridge said the findings suggested a “rebound effect” in energy use, where changing behaviour cancelled out the reductions in gas use.”

They don’t know, so they invent excuses and blame people.

Adam
January 1, 2023 7:26 pm

Fiberglass insulation sucks, it probably only lasts 4 years as it wicks up moisture. Is there a study breaking out energy consumption with different types of insulation. Also, does the study account for weather differences each year?

We just sprayed foamed the basement as a remodel. Quite a difference, no drafts and warmer down there. Mainly did it to keep out mice, squirrels and rats. They destroyed the old fiberglass.

Pat from Kerbob
Reply to  Adam
January 1, 2023 10:20 pm

Fiberglas insulation is widely used in canada
It doesn’t break down any time fast that’s for sure.
We have vapor barrier between the inside of the house and the insulation.

All works well but retrofit would be difficult.
Blown in insulation is used in retrofits

Tim Gorman
Reply to  Adam
January 2, 2023 6:07 am

I am amazed that you got a down check. The type of insulation used *is* very important. Anything loose, such as blown in cellulose or even fiberglass, can compact over time and lose its insulating value. My house was built in 1985 using mainly blown in cellulose in the attic and fiberglass in the 6″ walls. Over time the loss of insulation value was noticeable in the energy use. We had a Tyvek wrap applied outside the entire house covered with vinyl siding and saw an immediate drop in energy use. Same with foam covering the roof on the inside.

I am continually amazed at how little so many so-called “experts” actually know about the real world!

Pat from Kerbob
January 1, 2023 10:18 pm

A well known human trait. If I buy a car that gets better gas mileage I use it to drive further and see more of the country.
I still use the same amount of gas.

rckkrgrd
Reply to  Pat from Kerbob
January 3, 2023 11:29 am

In the same tone, since energy costs for my very efficient home are not an issue, I put very little effort into conservation. Not a good virtue signal, BUT?

Hysteria
January 2, 2023 1:40 am

But it should be a “national mission”, paid for by taxpayers, as the Labour Party want.

Should NOT be….?

For my home, I halved my winter heating bills by moving into the new extension compared with trying to heat the whole cottage. Over the last few weeks, comparing “whole home” cost when family are here, compared with “reduced home” cost with just the two of us, the difference is apparent. The well insulated more modern construction is approximately half as expensive to run as the old 18th C. building.

Energywise
January 2, 2023 2:28 am

Home insulation is just another claptrap nut zero sound bite thrown around by politicians who haven’t a clue about energy

son of mulder
January 2, 2023 2:45 am

Save energy costs in winter by insulating your home and turning the heating down. Solve the ensuing problem of damp, black mould by opening the windows and turning the heating up….simple.

Last edited 27 days ago by son of mulder
rovingbroker
January 2, 2023 3:24 am

Science: Change one variable, hold the others constant.
Policy Experts at the University of Cambridge: Change one variable and ignore the others.

Science!

Gregg Eshelman
January 2, 2023 3:41 am

“Cars, for example, are twice as efficient as they were even twenty or thirty years ago;” Tell that to anyone still driving a 1990’s Geo Metro and they’ll laugh in your face.

rckkrgrd
Reply to  Gregg Eshelman
January 3, 2023 11:34 am

Cars could and would be much more efficient if manufacture and buying was left to free market incentives rather than poorly thought out government intervention in the market.

ozspeaksup
January 2, 2023 3:58 am

wtf? must be crappy products
rockwool in the roof dropped my heat in summer by 10c at least and kept that or more IN in winter for a few hundred dollars worth every cent.
britains damp soils and cellars would pose a real problem to keep anything insulated without mould/rot I guess

rau9
January 2, 2023 4:22 am

I’ve owned 2 older homes with insulation installation after a period of original insulation.
Don’t know about newer homes, but older homes are mighty drafty. In our first home, the walls were plaster, and it was a great insulator. There were some drafts, but, overall, the solid construction of a 1880’s home kept our energy use to reasonable levels.
Our second home was built in the 1950’s, and updated in the late 1970s (yes, with that awful color scheme!). Little insulation to speak of. The add-on foam insulation cut our heating bills almost in half.
We didn’t bother with the next home, as it was located in sunny SC. We did buy a new heat pump, which saved on heating bills (and, more importantly, cooling bills).
The most recent home, a turn of the century model, just had the insulation installed on 1/30/22. It has a sunroom, usual LR, DR, and kitchen, and 3 bedrooms and 2 baths on the first floor. The attic had been remodeled by the previous owner to include another bath and bedroom. The attic was NOT insulated at all.
They installed the sheets of insulation batting in the attic, and injected foam in the floors (the ceiling of the first floor). They also added insulation to all the exterior walls, including in the sunroom.
What a difference it made, almost immediately! We could feel the reduction of drafts. We turned down the thermostat, and were still quite comfortable.
Like most Ohioans, we have a basement, with glass block windows. It does help keep the temp swings down.
We’re setting aside money to replace the 1st floor windows (particularly in the sunroom) with double-layered windows. That should keep the sunroom usable for most of the year.
Sensible use of measures to control energy use don’t have to cost much. I use insulated drapes in the sunroom, opened during the day (except when a snowstorm is raging) to take advantage of the sun, closed at night. I close off rooms not currently in use (a nice feature of the turn of the century homes – they are NOT open all around, and generally do not have cathedral ceilings). I also have installed some strips at the bottom edges of doors to stop the drafts.
We turn down the heat at night. It saves some energy, and promotes a more restful sleep. We have lowered the heat while we’re gone (we’re spending the next week in SC), and will be adding insulation of hot water pipes in the basement. Mostly, saving energy is knowing your home, and making the easy, cheap adjustments and improvements when you can. After living through last year’s winter in that house, I knew the upgrade was needed.

Edorazio
January 2, 2023 4:28 am

Wondering, second to last sentence of article: missing word “not” between should and be?

DEEBEE
January 2, 2023 4:33 am

There’s almost a “we are all sinners” quality to this. I await a call for the God of Government to come and inject some rectitude into the fallen angels.

ResourceGuy
January 2, 2023 6:02 am

That would help explain its appeal to utility company messaging and regulators as a mostly meaningless gesture and another side trip to nowhere but with good feelings.

ResourceGuy
January 2, 2023 6:07 am

Add this to the other con job that suggests all glass commercial buildings are “green” and utilize “natural light” while hiding the true efficiency issues of the design. They ignore the much lower R value of glass and the emergent use of LED lighting to replace the need for open walls.

aetherwizard
January 2, 2023 6:50 am

I built my home 14 years ago with ten inch walls with a vapor barrier and nine inches of insulation. I heat my home only with light bulbs and “waste” heat from cooking and computer monitors. I have no furnace of any kind and I do not use electric space heaters. I run ceiling fans constantly to prevent mold in the air. The outdoor temperature during Christmas was -8 F with twenty mph winds and the indoor temperature was 72 F. I open my windows frequently to control the temperature. During the Summer I run the air conditioner during the night to cool the house, and the house remains comfortable all through the day with the windows closed. Insulation is very efficient when used properly. Don’t confuse the stupidity of other people with science.

niceguy12345
January 2, 2023 8:05 am

For homes, I want an answer in W/K for a given amount of money.

Dave Andrews
January 2, 2023 8:09 am

In the UK government schemes to insulate cavity walls were introduced in the early 2000s and effectively resulted in botched jobs and misery for millions of home owners. A remedial scheme was introduced which was just as bad and there are still something like 4 million legal cases ongoing.

Dave Andrews
Reply to  Dave Andrews
January 2, 2023 8:14 am

The government is now planning a scheme to install 600,000 heat pumps a year from 2028 using people trained for a week or two to do the work. What could possibly go wrong?

Moriarty
January 2, 2023 9:50 am

I’m not sure what this study is trying to say. Stop adding home expansions? If the purpose is to study the effects of adding more home insulation, then it should restrict itself to homes where additional insulation was the only thing that changed.

The study is looking at overall energy use before and after. Energy use per square foot before and after might be a better measure.

nutmeg
Reply to  Moriarty
January 2, 2023 3:59 pm

Total energy use reduction was the goal of the insulation incentives, making overall enegy use the correct measurement for evaluating their success.

Jackdaw
January 2, 2023 12:12 pm

A good deal of the housing stock in the UK cannot be easily insulated. Those that could be insulated at reasonable cost probably have been.
Our house is over 500 years old, built with solid granite walls over 3 foot thick, and we have no loft space. To increase the insulation in the roof would mean stripping it off or dropping the ceilings. Both extremely costly. External cladding is expensive, would cover all the features of a lovely old house, and would probably lead to damp trapped between the cladding and stone. Internal cladding will cover architectural features, reduce the size of the rooms, require rewiring to extend switches, sockets and light fittings, and trap damp between stone and insulation, also very expensive and unattractive. So we accept the increased cost to heat our old home, I’d rather pay more than destroy the character of the house. And there are many thousands of old houses like ours where insulation is not an easy or cheap option.

Editor
January 2, 2023 3:59 pm

researchers said that while insulation was vital for fighting fuel poverty, it was not a “magic bullet” for reducing energy use“. It is really very very simple. The savings from insulation – and there are substantial savings – are spent on something else. Those people are then significantly better off, because they can now afford that ‘something else’ that they couldn’t afford before. Instead of blathering on about “reducing energy use”, the powers that be should be increasing the supply of cheap reliable energy as much as they possibly can. Energy is the foundation and principal driver of modern civilisation. Liz Truss got it right. Britain is immeasurably worse off from the elitist coup that replaced her with an unelected hypocrite (the person who supported fracking when trying to win the party vote, then banned it immediately on being installed in power).

It can’t be stated too often: Liz Truss was right.

DavsS
Reply to  Mike Jonas
January 3, 2023 5:44 am

That’ll be Rishi “Buying American fracked gas, compressing it and shipping it across the Atlantic is good, producing our own fracked gas is bad” Sunak. What a fracking idiot.

Patrick MJD
January 2, 2023 7:38 pm

Having lived in the UK and owned old properties (My first home in the 80’s was 105 years old) I can confirm that under floor, wall cavity, ceiling, hot water heater insulation and double glassing do work. So the article is misleading IMO.

rckkrgrd
January 3, 2023 10:07 am

I live in a cold climate area and I cannot imagine life without good insulation.
Comparing my energy bills with others with less well insulated homes show a substantial difference in costs.
Over tight and heavily insulated homes can cause other problems but they are quite solvable. Moisture retention is one, but a heat recovery ventilator, or alternately a dehumidifier, covers that nicely. The moister air is much more comfortable in terms of breathing and problematic humidifiers on forced air furnaces are not necessary.
Insulation has the same type of value in reducing cooling needs in hot weather.
Of course,the aim is a comfortable home and energy savings are a side benefit. Much better than a home that is impossible to keep comfortable due to poor construction or economic concerns (cost of heating or cooling).
Insulation, however is not the end all. Other factors include efficient heating and cooling systems, using the cheapest fuels available, good windows and doors, to name a few.

sturmudgeon
Reply to  rckkrgrd
January 3, 2023 7:51 pm

“the cheapest fuels available” are becoming ‘unavailable’ fast.

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