Ancient Building Energy Study in Brailes

Pam Bennett has recently taken part in the study...
The study was carried out by the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (which was started by William Morris) who have been commissioned to gather information on solid stone buildings for insulation purposes. Apparently there is little information on this.

They had been looking for people who were going to have their house renovated over the summer. This would mean that they could come and take readings of various things such as air tightness, and thermal imaging to get an idea of how the building is performing now. Then they will come back and do the same tests when the building is finished.

The first person came and stuck sensors on the inside of an outside wall, and one on the outside to monitor weather conditions, this will measure temperature of the walls as well as moisture content.

Then another person came to do thermal imaging and air tightness tests, or, correct term, air permeability tests – this took nearly all day. With the thermal imaging, there is a special camera, which picks out areas that are hot or cold, this is done both inside and outside the building, it can really show up places heat is being lost, for example my front door. Lastly she did air tightness tests. For this we had to tape up all the known gaps, like doorways and all the air is then taken out by a big fan, which is placed in the replacement front door.
From this you can go round the house identifying any gaps you didn’t know about. In my case, there was a howling gale from under a wash hand basin – this was from gaps round a pipe that you could hardly see! So this shows the importance of sealing gaps. The other interesting thing that happened, the carpets in two of the bedrooms rose up off the floorboards, this is again due to gaps then draughts are created. It is not only draughts that are a problem, there can also be a problem with convection, this is a bit complicated, but as I understand it is to do with the movement of air that is hot or cold or damp, anyway, it can make terrible draughts without a clear reason. The air tightness tests are now part of the building regulations for every new build house, but there is no required test for existing houses.

Apparently they have done tests and human beings are uncomfortable if their body is at different temperatures. For example, most people have been to bonfire parties where you are too hot at the front and very cold on your back. This is why under-floor heating works so well for us, this is heat rising from the floor, rather than a very hot radiator when you are near it, but the rest of the room being colder.

Pam Bennett

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07887 661 253

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