What is retrofit?

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What actually is retrofit? Don’t you know? Really?

Just realised I haven’t written a blog that gives this basic information. I’ve fallen into the trap of assuming everyone else knows what retrofit means. I suffered so much from this when we were doing our house – experts taking for granted that I understood their words, when they actually could have been talking Swahili.

This was one of the reasons for writing Beginner’s Guide to Eco Renovation. I wanted people to understand the basics – including the building jargon – so they could be clear what they wanted and have a sensible conversation with the builder.

So what is this retrofit?

I spent so long searching ‘renovation’ without finding what I needed. But as soon as I heard the word ‘retrofit’ a whole new world opened up before me.

Retrofit is the process of adding into your home the elements that were not included  – or were not available to be included – when it was built. You are putting in systems ‘retrospectively’. When referring to retrofit for energy efficiency, this means:

  • Adding insulation in the loft, under the floor, on the walls to make a bigger barrier between inside and outside
  • Making the place airtight removing all those draughts that were ignored by the original builders – up through the floors, down chimneys, ill-fitting single glazed windows, through the roof…….
  • Putting in controlled ventilation to stop condensation and mould forming in the airtight space
  • Add in an air source heat (ASHP) or ground source heat pump (GSHP)
  • Putting solar panels on the roof to create sustainable electricity

Renovation, in contrast, is about improving what is already there. So if you’re anything like us you will do a combination of renovation (we built an extension to the kitchen) and retrofit (ASHP, insulation, ventilation, solar etc).

One without the other is a wasted opportunity

Most people will set out to improve the look or space of their property. But few people realise just how much difference can be made to energy efficiency while the work is going on. Remember, we are now saving 75% of our energy usage by doing just that. So whenever you think renovation, add retrofit to the equation.

All the information you need is in Beginner’s Guide to Eco Renovation. From how to start your planning right through to disposing of the waste you produce – it’s all there to help you understand the basics and hold quality conversations with the builder.

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