Having gone through another month of August in Spain I am sure that many readers may have wondered if there are ways of reducing the heat impact in their houses or any method to drop their electricity bill on air conditioning.
Real depredators on energy. Houses can be real depredator on energy; the problem is aggravated if the house in question is built before the 197’0s. I can imagine the temperature inside an old apartment without any insulation whatsoever in let say the centre of Murcia at 3.00pm in mid of August and could easily reach the 40ºC or 104º Fahrenheit.
Keep in mind that the energy consumption of Spanish homes is about 20% of total consumption in the country and in the last 15 years have seen a sustained upward growth. Moreover, Spain has a great dependence on foreign energy 80%, so any energy saving measure would be very beneficial, first, to consumers pocket and, secondly, for the entire economy of the country.
The recent entry into force of Royal Decree 314/2006 of 17 March, approving the new Spanish Building Regulation (CTE) aimed, among other objectives, to reduce energy consumption in buildings through stricter insulation techniques.
The CTE partially introduced the European Directive on Energy Performance of Buildings (2002/91/EC), which obliges member’s states of the European Union by law from October 2006. It is mandatory to insulate the existing buildings above a specified minimum when it is rehabilitated, altered or renovated in more than 25% of its covered area of any building that has a floor space exceeding 1,000 m2.
Consequently as a result of this law, any building over 20 years old which may be under insulated, it is considered desirable to implement a thermal insulation upgrading.
Savings of up to 50%
Up to 50% of the energy consumed for heating and / or cooling could be easily saved. In practice, we must bear in mind that the costs of building work in a dwelling, are attributed to labour costs, and fixed costs so that once you have decided to undertake a rehab of any kind, thermal insulation should be seriously considered even though this may not have been at first the main objective of the rehabilitation.
The immediate question is: What measures can be taken to reduce consumption of energy on these buildings? The answer also is immediate; any works that improves thermal insulation is one of the best measures that any one can undertake. Any action in this regard will produce an immediate savings in energy and therefore immediate saving in money. Don’t forget that thermal insulation is not seen but you can certainly notice it in your pocket.
To insulate a home is to be enabling the external elements of a building increase their resistance to the passage of heat, which is achieved by incorporating insulating materials on: exterior walls, roofs, floors, walls and voids.
If you repair it, insulate it.
So it would be a good idea to take advantage when a roof is repaired to introduce thermal insulation, or perhaps when pipes are replaced to insulate the new lay out. If replacing the external windows choose them double glazed, it all redound in future energy saving. Normally the investment in thermal insulation can be amortized within 5 to 7 years on most construction elements and the life of a new building it is expected to last for at least 100 years so you can see that the money saving could be substantial during that period if you are still around to see it!!
The incorporation of thermal insulation not only contributes to save money as we have seen but also improves our home in other aspects:
Improve the comfort and well being for the user: Housing which is thermally insulated contributes to the welfare of the users by maintaining a comfort temperature inside the house, in winter and summer. Your family will notice it.
It will also help to reduce the emissions of gases (Mainly CO2) from boilers using gas, petrol or coal. Also electricity production is associated with CO2 emissions.
It will also eliminate condensation and improve sound insulation: on one side we are removing indoor humidity which often lead to mould growth and also reduces the noise from the outside or from the neighbours.
Adding value to the building: the advantages described may be used as positive arguments for the rental or sale of the property. All new built homes must have an energy certificate to identify the property with an energy saving rating, so that you will know in advance how much energy your home is suppose to require.
How are we supposing to thermal insulate an existing building?
In principle, any existing building can be thermal insulated, although it is necessary to specifically study each case to assess the technical advantages and disadvantages and the cost involve.
Insulation solutions can be done either on the inside, on the outside of the building or by injecting insulation into cavities walls.
Next week we shall examine the different methods and technical solution we may undertake to comply with the current legal thermal regulation in Spain.