Researchers from Edinburgh have claimed that people living in poorly insulated properties, such as period houses, can substantially cut their energy bills by performing a simple task each day: closing their curtains or shutters as dusk falls.
Energy conservation boffins from the Edinburgh World Heritage Trust arrived at the startling conclusion after using thermal imaging cameras to highlight areas of the home which leak the most energy. Residents of the Scottish capital’s oldest and newest towns were shown the images in order to help them understand how and where savings could be made.
Reducing the cost of domestic central heating is an aim that applies not just to Edinburgh but the whole of the UK; indeed, environmental concerns and fuel poverty have elevated the issue of energy conservation in the political sphere.
The UK Government is committed to reducing carbon emissions by 2020, which could be achieved if residential properties across Britain become more energy efficient; accordingly, the Government has supported various schemes introduced under the previous Labour administration and has also devised its own ‘Green Deal’, which aims to support homeowners even further.
The Edinburgh World Heritage Trust, however, believes that drawing the curtains or closing the shutters when conditions turn crepuscular can prove as effective as installing double glazing, which is not an option in many period properties that are protected by conservation laws. The Edinburgh World Heritage Trust’s advice might not be welcomed by homeowners who have invested thousands of pounds in solar panel technology, loft insulation, energy-efficient boilers, cavity wall insulation and other green energy measures.
Funded by the Climate Challenge Fund, the researchers uncovered few surprises after playing with their thermal imaging cameras. Chiara Ronchini, Energy Officer for the Edinburgh World Heritage Trust, noted: “There are issues, of course, with historic buildings but they are so well designed that they just need a little push to make sure that they are performing as well as the most modern buildings.
The thermal imaging exercise really proved that very simple measures, like closing shutters at night or using full length curtains, can have a dramatic effect and make a dramatic improvement on the amount of heat being lost through the windows”.