Older homes can be charming and I love nothing more than to spot some of the amazing properties we have in Scotland, admiring the architecture and even imagining what it would be like to live in them, whether that is a country cottage with a rustic red tin roof, or a baroque castle with imposing towers. 

The problem with character is it doesn’t always mean warm and cosy. It may mean draughty windows and chimneys, poor insulation and difficult to heat rooms. If your older home is hard to heat, it’s often not easy to know where to start, especially if you want to look into the option of generating your own energy through renewable technology. Here are some suggestions to help get you started. 

Tackle heat loss first

The best place to start is by understanding where the major sources of heat loss are within your home and try to stop them. Typically 33% of heat is lost through your walls, 26% through your roof and 18% through windows. Improving your insulation and draught-proofing will make a big difference to your home’s warmth. Before starting any work there are many considerations you’ll want to take into account such as; how much it will cost? Who should I get to do the work? Are there any restrictions that apply in terms of planning regulations? Will there be much disruption? Will the changes affect the look and character of my home? Is there any funding available? Home Energy Scotland can help you with all of these questions. 

Renewable energy in older buildings

Solar thermalGenerating your own clean energy through renewable technology to power and heat your home can be a great option for an older property. There are a few more considerations in traditionally built homes than modern ones, for example air circulation, insulation standards, ventilation levels and building techniques all vary widely. You also need to consider the building materials and how best to conserve the original fabric of the building as well as the aesthetics of any technologies you wish to install. 

The next thing to look at is the technologies. There’s lots to choose from such as solar photovoltaic (PV), solar thermal, biomass boilers, air and ground source heat pumps. It’s about selecting the option that works best for your home and lifestyle. This may sound confusing and complicated, but expert help and support is available to help you to make your home more comfortable and greener. 

Help and advice

Home Energy Scotland has a team of specialist advisors who carry out home visits to older homes. Through the help of the home visit service you can identify how to reduce heat loss and if your home is suitable for renewable energy. A home visit from one of our specialist advisors can help you to understand the options that are available, what the typical costs are to install measures and the funding available. 

Another useful source of information is the Green Homes Network. This is a group of people who have already installed energy efficiency measures in their homes and are happy to share their experiences. You can read case studies, watch videos and make appointments to visit some of the homes on the network, meeting owners who are happy to share their experiences. 

If you would like more information or to book a home visit then call Home Energy Scotland on 0808 808 2282, or come along to one of the “Re-energise your old home” events in Edinburgh, East Lothian and Fife. 


Anna Blackwood





Anna Blackwood is Home Energy Scotland South East’s Marketing Manager