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DIYing a retrofit

  • 31-01-2023 11:33am
    Registered Users Posts: 43

    There is a two month waiting list to get a consultation for retrofit with any of the SEAI approved contractors in my area for either One Stop shop or individual insulation grants. And obviously a consultation is just the beginning. Itś like the health service youŕe on a waiting list to be on a waiting list...

    We've just bought a 70s bungalow. It is a typical bungalow of it´s time with a side garage on one side and a flat roof extension to the other. It also has a back porch/utility. It is south facing and we are hoping to cover the long south roof with panels if we can. We would go for the grant for this as solar companies have actually given us quotes/ been communicative.

    Question 1) Can it be done DIY/ Am I naive?

    We have to do a full renovation anyway so have started to gut it, we also want to get in sooner rather than later and stop paying rent so that´s why I am considering the DIY route. I have a couple of trades people in the family one who has experience in Attic insulation and EWI who are willing to help when they can/ advise. We won´t get the grant but hopefully we can keep costs down doing what we can ourselves.

    Question 2) EWI or IWI?

    The go to for this type of building seems to be cavity wall insulation and EWI. However given we are on the west coast (wind driven rain galore) I've read CWI is not advised but I can actually find what is advised. I figure given this and the fact the building is not a simple rectagle IWI would be the better option, although anything Iǘe read on it is regarding brick or stone built buildings. We are already doing a renovation so is IWI the way to go?

    Question 3) Can we go fully electric in rural Ireland?

    Is it advisable in rural Ireland? I think we will keep the chimney and install an insert stove as back up for heat but otherwise going all electric incl water heating.

    Our possible plan is:

    20+ solar panels,

    2 batteries

    on demand electric water heater

    infrared ceiling panels (other half is very fond of this type of heating)


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,506 ✭✭✭Furze99

    Q1 - most anything can be done DIY and ye might actually do a better job in some detailing as if it's your gaff, you tend to be more nit picky. Finishing trades like internal plastering are possible but trickier and take a room or two to get the basics on.

    Q2 - what sort of wall construction there already? If it's a standard cavity wall as opposed to cavity block, I'd have thought internal cavity insulation would be best - but others may differ. EWI has a big impact on exterior (may be no prob with bungalow) and also research durability/ toughness of finish.

    Q3 - my two cents is you'd be mad to rely solely on electricity in rural Ireland. I'd have a gas cooker and some sort of solid fuel stove but YMMV.

    As for grants, others will know better - I suspect you may get some but not the full whack.

  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 18,480 Mod ✭✭✭✭slave1

    Q1, whether you DIY or not you still need a RECI to hook up to your consumer unit and run tests required for NC6 so you may as well apply for the grant and in selecting your electrician make sure he is happy to review your work with grant in mind, you will have to take lots of photos along the way so ensure your electrician knows what ones to take

  • Registered Users Posts: 624 ✭✭✭bunderoon

    Does the electrician need to be on the SEAI approved installers list to avail of the grant?

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,377 ✭✭✭DC999

    Hell of a lot of Qs in that 😊

    Question 1) DIY for what? Will the whole house be a shell and everything inside will be thrown out? Different to doing cosmetic DIY stuff like laying floors. And DIY as in do it yourself literally, or get trades in directly and you do some donkey work?

    Question 2) EWI or IWI? No clue, others can chime in.

    Question 3) Can we go fully electric in rural Ireland? Yes, but... would want some redundancy and would want to spend some time number crunching. Backup: even a superser gas heater that uses the bottles for heating at a push. Power outages happen more in rural areas..

    Heating: I haven’t seen others here heating a full house on IR panels. Most use them to supplement the main heating (gas or oil). I’m using a mix of electric rads (some are IR) and using less gas heating due to that. If going fully electric for heating, you’ll need to get 20kWh at least of batteries so you fill on the cheap night rate. And then run them from the batteries. Otherwise you'll be hammered on the day rate. Or can get the storage heaters - newer versions of the old ones. Have bricks in them to hold the heat from night and output during the day. And your batteries need to be capable of outputting the demand in kW. Say all the rads need 6kW (figure based on nothing!) in total (and IR rads run at full wattage unless they are off) but battery can only output / feed 3.5kW, you’ll be buying the difference from the grid (during peak day rates) just for heating.

    If you get a heatpump you generate 2.5 units of heat per 1 unit of electricity (multiplier is called COP and down to the refrigerant process ‘boosting’ that. Like a fridge in reverse). Any other form of heating won’t have that multipler. So IR panels will generate 1 unit of heat per 1 unit of electricity. As will oil filled electric rads. Heatpumps need decent insulation to hold the heat. They can also include air con units that can heat in winter.

    Deffo not saying you can’t heat a house on electricity only – we’ll all be moving to that in time anyway. But check the running costs ahead of time. Just putting it out there and it’s based on very little -assume you’ll use 1000kWh+ of heating for electric heating per heating month – but that could be way under depending on what you do. 10 heaters would mean 100kWh a month each. That's only 3.3kWh per rad which isn't a runner as the ones in the sitting areas would need to be on much more. Day rate will be 40c+ on you next renewal. So at least €400+ a month just for heating if using day rate (if don't get large batteries) Though Sept and April are lighter heating months. 

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,377 ✭✭✭DC999

    If going fully electric for heating, or as much as you can, solar and batteries will help.

    I'd suggest don’t DIY solar when trying to move into a new house that needs a heap of work. So if you can’t afford it, push it to year2 until you’ve time and some money again. But you can get cable runs in so it’s easier to do the work then. To get a company to do it (which the vast majority of people here did for the initial install), solar costs will be (finger in the air) 7k+ after the 2.4k grant has been removed on 8kWP of panels. You’ll need largeeeeee batteries if heating from electric (so heaters can run from cheap night rate the batteries filled with). That’s a D/N meter, not a smart meter. Difference is 9 hours night rate versus 2-3 on smart meter - which you'll need to fill the batteries in winter. Others can estimate the cost for batteries. I don’t have a battery. 

    Edit: Just checked my own heating numbers. Downstairs in our v. small house used 520kWh of heating in Jan. 350kWh in Jan just to heat a 5x5m siting room / kitchen (badly insulated house). That’s 100kWh of gas heating that rad (runs for 3 hours a day) and 250kWh from an oil filled electric rad (runs rest of the time). 20C during day, 17C at night.

    As a comparison, WFH room (small 3x3m but cold as North facing and old windows) uses 190kWh in total to heat a month (gas and IR rad). That’s heated less of the day versus sitting room, and barely heated at weekends as not used. In Oct before it got cold, that room only used half that amount. So without the COP multiplier of a heatpump or running rads from batteries charged on cheap night rate, it’s gonna get very expensive for electric heating. 

    I'd suggest don’t DIY a large battery either at the same time. You'll need spare time for that as steep learning curve afaik. but huge cost savings to be made. Especially if you go with fully electric heating.

    You should get specialist electric heating companies to quote you. Don't design it yourself or could end up with huge bills and not give the comfort you expect. Nothing stopping you doing it yourself once you see the design

    Post edited by DC999 on

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  • Registered Users Posts: 43 senape

    Thanks for the feedback. DIY refers mainly to insulation/ airtightness flooring/ dry lining etc no electrics or plumbing , will get in the professionals there but manage the job ourselves.

    Yes I am most unsure about the heating. I hear heat pumps work best in underfloor heating and I don’t want to go digging up concrete floors. That’s what’s turned me off them. We are planning on having an insert stove perhaps a back boiler with a couple of rads might be a good compliment to electric/IR heating.

    Also I do love to cook on gas but was considering induction if we went all electric.

    I think the key is sitting down and crunching the numbers.

  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 18,480 Mod ✭✭✭✭slave1

    I dug up my floors, mid 70's Semi, and put in a foot of insulation. Also handy to run new water pipes or more sockets. Don't underestimate heat loss through floors

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,377 ✭✭✭DC999

    Couple of good heat pump threads here: Renewable Energies — - Now Ye're Talkin'

    Underflooring heating is a gift it seems for a new build. But others like @the_amazing_raisin have a heatpump with rads and no underfloor heating. He's posted his heating usage in kWhs somewhere. Others have too. Need to find a similar setup. A new build with a high A2 would differ from an older refurb like yours. Insulation seems to be key