NAR's public consumer advocacy website is HouseLogic. This month they are featuring an interesting twist to increase consumer interest in energy efficiency makeovers.  They've done some fantasy-inspired estimates for three big energy efficiency imp...

Fantasy aside, not sure I would replace historic windows, and for the average real house, today, in the US, the payback for insulation and air sealing would sure be a lot higher.

Interesting way to get the conversation started though!  What do you think about the story?

Tags: energy, estate, home, improvement, real

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Couldn't resist posting a photo of Downton Abbey...

Maybe we should check with the National Trust in the UK. Often palaces like this are donated to that group because the noble family can't pay the taxes anymore.  The National Trust turns them into museums. It might be fun to see what types of EE upgrades they have done to these buildings in practice (with costs and savings).


One way to lower the need for petroleum or nuclear-fueled energy might be to use them more fully.  Occupy them with lots of people who will contribute body heat.  Instead of one Edwardian family and their servants, you could put a school in there or a theater or large public assemblies.  You will want to implement the occupancy-sensitive ventilation strategies that are often used for gymnaisums and other large spaces.

To me this is an important upgrade to show how these types of buildings can be improved, one thing always missing is a source of heat, why isn't a solar-thermal collector on the roof to supply the heating??

It's because we still do not think about architecture as thermal-mass, like this building with stone on the outside, well that's going to transfer heat without a layer of insulation and if you put the insulation anywhere but on the outside, the mass to the outside is lost to maintaining comfort zone for the building.

Most people just don't think about it because we don't have the products to buy in stores, there's no reason even in winter to pay to heat a place like this, even cloudy days produce a decent amount of heat in a collector.

 I had to chime in here my top 2 recommendations a walkthru of the castle while it is

occupied with an IR camera Not only to ascertain air infiltration but as an energy use snapshot

of how the folks inside are using the BTU's &  kWs they are paying for, I wouldn't be surprised to

find energy waste that is happening due to human energy use patterns.And then cut that waste !


 At the present time I would wager within the Abbey someones got a seldom used

VCR blinking 12:00 or a printer thats plugged in suckin energy 24-7 I would propose fixing that

easily solved problem- my second will come as no surprise to anyone thats ever seen anything

I've ever written on the topic-


This place is a prime - would be candidate for switching to solid state lighting ( LEDs) I'm positive

this place has incandescent B-10 candlabra lamps wasting energy - the same could be said for

all of it's lighting interior and Exterior - -I'm looking at a picture and I can just imagine how energy

in effecient this place is.


Fixing lifestyle or use in energy waste is generally low cost or no cost and the ROI on

quality LED products is measuresd in a few seasons - these areas would be logical and

appropriate starting points !



"According to the energy calculator at England’s Glass and Glazing Federation, the castle would save $274 (that’s £169 for you true fans) per window per year, or a whopping $82,200!" 

Think they trued that model to actual use?  Wouldn't it be funny if total consumption was $75,000?  "Hey, our costs are going down 110%!  The power company is going to start writing US checks!"


Hmmm.  Glass and Glazing Federation.  Sounds very official.  they wouldn't, perchance, be an organization whose purpose is to sell, say, WINDOWS!?!  The days of crazy promise on the hope nobody will track results are about to end, thank God.  


Interior or exterior storms would be a better solution, likely save more, and cost 1/10 to install.  And the authenticity, the historical architecture is not permanently altered.  


Good catch, Ted.  If a typical house with 20 windows in NC (similar climate to England) could save $274 per window, that means the total energy lost through each window in a year would be in the area of $400?  So that NC house would have an $8,000 annual bill just for single pane windows !! ???  !! ???

Getting serious, a house this big has many areas that are not heated, so no savings possible. The house has solid stone walls, so without changing the historic nature, no savings possible in much of it.  The many fancy rooms will have wood paneling that is fastened directly to the walls using inlaid wood pieces, so very minimal cavities, probably under 1", so difficult to deal with, may be not insulatable.  The attics could be insulated, but much of the house may have no attics - look at all that flat or almost flat roof.

Air leakage - again the walls are solid stone so you are looking at no leakage there.  Bypasses at the top will be the big issue because of the height, but only in the areas that are heated.   Maybe not much there because of that flat or nearly flat roofing.  Consider separating the heated from the unheated portions with good doors.

The house has single pane windows, and it would make sense for fading of fancy interior fabrics as well as for energy savings in those areas that are heated to install Low-E interior storms.  Savings in a 30 ft2 (they are probably bigger than that)  window might be in the neighborhood of $30-40 a year including conduction and air leakage.

Lighting would be cost-effective to work on, as would phantom loads.  Hot water could be handled with small electric tankless units where needed - these may already be in there as this is a common  European solution in older buildings.

However, because the walls and many of the attics are not insulatable, that loss so far overpowers whatever small savings you could get from baseload measures that it seems like one of those jobs that you just throw up your hands on.  Let the royalties from the TV show pay the heat bill.

Ed Minch

Thanks for supporting my position Ed.  

My frustration at these absurd and unsubstantiatable claims is they cause huge harm to our industry.  We become the guy playing with peas and shells on the street corner.  Confidence men.  No credibility.  

I track my results.  These projects can deliver on promise to a very small, reasonable deviation.  Best practices would suggest building design recommendations to meet homeowner budgets based upon net monthly improvement cost.  But if the homeowner can have no independently documented proof of realization so they can understand risk of energy savings not appearing, how can they make decisions based upon anything but GROSS monthly cost.

Now all the analysis and design I've done goes in the toilet.  We need to TRACK RESULTS.  We need transparent accountability in order to have true credibility.     

Thanks for the reply and cross-post on HouseLogic.

When it comes to castles

Saving money & Energy is not an Issue

And no need to worry about that Musty Castle Smell

all you need are about 900 pounds worth of scented candles



If someone can afford to live in a castle they're probably not too terribly concerned about energy usage. At least that's the thought process here in the States.


 I think the focus of the story is how does one make this example of energy waste - Better !

Using USA energy use as a global norm is wrong at so many levels. We here

in the US are probably the worst offenders regarding intelligent logical energy use !


I would maintain this Abbey could use all new LED lights and retraining of occupants

with regard to frivolous and irrational energy consumption trends.



I would propose that a few of us undertake a detailed assessment of the property. Obviously the owners could save a few dollars on our fees by providing room and board during our (extended) stay.

I'm sure that it would only take a couple of months for a half dozen or so of us Yanks (with spouses/travel companions) to do a truly thorough job of looking at the property and energy use. That would, of course, include time spent traveling around the area to compare other properties and to assess the local practices and perhaps interviewing regional residents (in a relaxed pub setting) to learn about accepted solutions.

I think I could find time during the summer of 2013 for this. Anyone with me?

C'mon England, let us help you (and pay us) to bring energy efficiency to this national treasure.


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