Skip past Navigation
Old cottage copyright National Trust

Does your home need a little more love?

Posted on 04 March 2015

National Trust logo
This is guest post by James Lloyd of
the National Trust.
(All images provided by and copyright of the National Trust.)

Spring may have arrived, but if last year was anything to go by we’ve got a while to wait until short-wearing weather appears. In the spirit of the season, this can be a great time to reflect on how we’re looking after our homes and take action to make them more energy efficient for the future.

No matter the age or type of home you live in there is always something that can be done to make our places even more special. But to make the best-fit choices for you and get better results for your money, it’s important to know about your home first before you get started.

How old is your home?

The key thing to ask is ‘how old is your home?’ Building materials and techniques have changed over time and this means they work in different ways to keep the house warm and dry. Homes built before 1919 are known as traditional buildings and they behave very differently from those built later.

Illustration comparing modern and traditional house building techniques - copyright National Trust

Looking after your traditional building

A house built before 1919 is likely to have been made using traditional materials and techniques. In particular, it will probably have solid (non-cavity) walls and plenty of natural ventilation. It’s possible to make your traditional home warmer and cheaper to run but you need to bear in mind the way your house was built. Problems such as damp can occur in traditional buildings when they are unable to dry out or ‘breathe’ – this is often caused when modern materials are used incorrectly, such as inappropriately installing solid wall insulation.

Think windows, doors and roofs

There are simple things you can do to save energy in all homes, like clearing guttering, closing curtains and turning your thermostat down a little. But for traditional homes, here are some ways to save energy without losing the character of your special place:

Things you can do for windows:

  1. Refurbish tired shutters or reinstate them if they’ve been removed
  2. Refurbish and draught-proof original windows
  3. Put secondary glazing film on to windows
  4. Install temporary secondary glazing, which fits to window frames
  5. Replace windows damaged beyond repair with a high performance traditional design

You can also learn how to make some beautiful and useful thermal curtains in the National Trust's how-to video.

Things you can do for doors:Bat House, Gwynedd ©National Trust ImagesJoe Cornish

  1. Draught-proof your door
  2. Refurbish a tired door
  3. Create a draught-proof hall or porch
  4. Replace doors damaged beyond repair with high performance thermal doors

Things you can do for lofts and roofs:

  1. Insulate the loft hatch
  2. Insulate your loft (where the loft is only used for storage and is unheated)
  3. Rafter insulation (where the loft is in use or heated)
  4. Flat roof insulation

Find more energy saving ideas and National Trust cleaner energy stories on the National Trust website.

About this post

This post is one of a series exploring the challenges of living in, and potential solutions to, fuel poverty in the UK as part of Groundwork's Show Winter Who's Boss campaign. Find out more about our campaign to help people take control of their energy bills by visiting the Show Winter Who's Boss page.