HMO I live in has Zero Insulation

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    HMO I live in has Zero Insulation

    Hi,
    I'm a student living in a 7-bed HMO.

    We've always had difficulties keeping this house warm.
    We bought our own thermostat as the existing boiler timer was difficult. Then we rebalanced the radiators which helped normalise the coldest rooms a bit better.

    The underlying issue seems to be the house loses heat very quickly, especially upstairs where my housemates always complain about their rooms being very cold. After the heating goes off at 11pm the house loses 3-4 degrees by 1am.

    For reference, in December we were billed £150 for that month's energy usage with the heating set to 20C for a few hours in the morning and evening. I submit regular meter readings to our provider (Bulb). This seems quite high considering the size of the home.

    Yesterday we had our EPC inspection; the inspector said that the house has zero loft or cavity wall insulation. Here's a picture of inside the loft I took earlier in the year (Higher resolution here: https://i.imgur.com/4riU8BM.jpg):
    4riU8BM.jpg
    (Nice wasp nest, huh?)


    Now I understand squalid conditions and being cold are the standard student experience, but does anyone know how I can convince my landlord to insulate our home?

    Thanks

    #2
    Funny anecdote from the EPC inspector, this landlord has about 30 student lets. Of the homes he offers bills-included the homes are all very energy efficient and well insulated. The rest look like this one...

    Comment


      #3
      It doesn't have zero insulation. Brick walls are insulators, as are roofs and ceilings. Cavity wall insulation is still uncommon, as it is expensive, unless you can get a grant, and not possible if there are no cavities. Loft insulation is cheap and easy to do, so there is no excuse for not having that.

      What actually matters, though, is the overall rating. If that is too poor, it will be illegal to let. If it is legal to let, then you have no legal basis for a complaint unless there are specific promises in your contract.

      In a well insulated building, the number of hours you had the heating on wouldn't make much difference.

      Is the heating case or electric?

      Comment


        #4
        Yes I see your point, I was being a bit hyperbolic - zero insulation would be putting our beds in the garden lol.
        Our house is suitable for cavity wall insulation, it was on the previous EPC certificate as a suggestion, along with the loft insulation.

        The last certificate in 2009 gave a score of 67 (D).

        We have an Ideal Independent C35 Combi Boiler, which is A-rated for energy efficiency.

        Comment


          #5
          Yes it probably isn't the best in terms of energy efficiency -- but I think you are underestimating how much energy costs. A big house (this is a 7 bed HMO!) WILL typically cost £500 to heat per months during the coldest months (although it might average out at £150/month over the year). Thinking you can heat it for £150 is pie in the sky.......

          Leave the heating on 24/7 not just for a few hours and accept the cost. It is probably higher than it should be but if you think £150 will do it even in the best insulated big house, you need to seriously re-think.

          (PS I upgraded my numbers having read it is a 7 bed HMO!)

          Comment


            #6
            I should add that if you are only spending £150/month on heating a 7 bedroom house during the coldest months of the year (£5 per week per person, some of which will be for hot water) you are going to be causing serious damage to the house as well......

            Part of being a student is learning how the world works (not a criticism).

            Decreasing by 1 degree per hour when it is freezing outside and the heating is off is totally normal.

            There is no particular reason to remove a wasp nest (from the point of view of safety anyway) - but I would (just because it alarms people). Probably nobody noticed it.

            Comment


              #7
              A seven bedroom house for £150 a month in December is a bargain!
              Welcome to the world.

              When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
              Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

              Comment


                #8
                Wickes/B&Q etc all have insulation rolls on offer atm, £12 per roll.
                Ask LL then put insulation in, it will help reduce your bills and is very easy to do. Or let LL arrange it if they are happy to.

                Comment


                  #9
                  D is actually quite good. It is well clear of the legal minimum for the time being.

                  If you are losing one degree an hour, I suspect you will find that it doesn't cost that much more to leave the heat on all day. The main reason it will be slightly cheaper is that the rate of heat loss is proportional to the difference between inside and outside temperatures, so a colder house loses heat more slowly.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    I'd say the EPC inspector may be wrong about the loft insulation.

                    Looking at you photo it does seem to have loft insulation - but of the 'loose fill' type, rather than the matting/roll type which most people are used to seeing.
                    There are various types of loose fill insulation, here's just one:
                    https://www.thegreenage.co.uk/micafi...ft-insulation/
                    You can see in your photo a section that has no insulation where that vent ducting is in the corner between the joist and the wall.

                    It doesn't look thick/deep enough though. It may have settled since fitting?
                    You can top it up with more loose fill to the top of the joists, or lay matting on top which will be a trickier job.
                    You need to be careful with electrical wiring which shouldn't be burried as it may overheat.
                    It would be a bugger of a job to try and remove/replace loose fill insulation.

                    Many people don't like loose fill insulation as it can get blown about by draughts.

                    PS. Loose fill can also used in cavity walls, it's just poured in from the top - doing that you have to be careful about vent bricks, around doors/windows etc.
                    Another problem there is if you later drill the wall or remove a brick the loose fill can start to pour out.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Many energy providers are able to install loft insulation free of charge. I've had several properties done even though they weren't providing my gas and electricity at the time. Have a look online to see if you qualify.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        AndrewDod,

                        Respectfully I think you're incorrect.

                        We've got the thermostat set to 20C (however this is located in the hallway nearby the living room which is hotter than the bedrooms), but also run a dehumidifier at all times in our living room for the washing (that we bought ourselves!). There are no issues with damp and mould or condensation (there were before we arrived, but our ventilation and dehumidifier habits fixed it!).

                        Perhaps I'm being unrealistic with my expected bills. Respectfully, to suggest my bills should be closer to £500 and suggest I run the heating 24/7 in the same comment seems like poor advice.

                        I've been in this house for about 1.5 years now and made regular meter readings, the monthly gas + electricity costs are averaged to £111/month. So perhaps you lot are correct in suggesting my bills are quite cheap, however, this is in Southampton and we've had really warm weather for the last couple of years, so perhaps the estimates are taking this into account.
                        In addition, this might be a 7-bed HMO but it's quite a cramped house. None of the bathrooms have windows, which I suppose helps with energy efficiency too.

                        I think that rate of heat loss is quite fast, the weather had been mild during those observations (~12C), and like other commenters said the rate of heat loss is proportional to the delta temperature indoors and outside, which is fairly small at the moment.

                        I didn't care about the wasp nest, it's inactive and Google says wasps don't re-enter it once it's dead (also see poison containers at bottom of image, looks like landlord sorted it already).

                        Comment


                          #13
                          leaseholder64,

                          Yes, it does seem EPC regulations are a joke. It seems to comply all a landlord has to do is install a Combi boiler, some TRVs and LED bulbs. In the age of Climate Change it seems absurd to not force landlords perform basic upgrades, although I don't think I'll find many supporters of this point on this forum ;P

                          Comment


                            #14
                            nukecad,
                            Thanks for the information and ID on the type of insulation Looks like we've got about 10mm of insulation on average, when the EPC suggests 270mm?

                            I'm not going to be insulating the property as I'm moving in the summer (to somewhere that's actually insulated lol).

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by oscarandjo View Post

                              We've got the thermostat set to 20C (however this is located in the hallway nearby the living room which is hotter than the bedrooms), but also run a dehumidifier at all times in our living room for the washing (that we bought ourselves!). There are no issues with damp and mould or condensation (there were before we arrived, but our ventilation and dehumidifier habits fixed it!).

                              Perhaps I'm being unrealistic with my expected bills. Respectfully, to suggest my bills should be closer to £500 and suggest I run the heating 24/7 in the same comment seems like poor advice.

                              etc....
                              Oh dear. You clearly have never lived in a home and paid bills because, frankly what you suggest is not possible. And yes leaving a booiler running 24/7 on a thermostat is quite appropriate and normal.

                              The average energy bill across the UK for a 7 bedroom house is about £185/month (according to OVO energy) - but most of the action happens in winter. Energy usage will typically be about three times greater during winter than summer (so typically £400 - £500/month in winter). Look it up.....

                              £500/month for a place like yours in the coldest 2 or three months is absolutely standard, normal, usual..... and extra insulation beyond what is there already will only help that by a few %. It may be more relevant to check you are on a decent tariff.

                              Bottom line - £150 for a month of energy use in December for a 7 bedroom house is not only not extraordinarily high -- but it is extraordinarily low and incompatible with properly heating the house. How much were you expecting - £75/month? I think you are over arguing your case.

                              As others have said, running heating 24/7 does not usually cost much more (or if you do not have a sophisticated thermostat you could let it go off between say 3am and 6am when most good students should be asleep.

                              Really good that you are running a dehumidifier however.

                              Comment

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