As the cost of fuel increases and the pressure on everybody to become more conscious of our environmental impact rises, the question of heating and insulation of houses becomes ever more paramount. When a standard 2,500 litre oil tank costs the best part of £1,000 to fill, it’s not surprising that many owners of draughty country houses find it hard to afford the costs of heating.
A property blessed with many working fireplaces will not necessarily cut down on the heating bills, warns Jo Aldridge of Stacks Property Search & Acquisition. Prospective buyers are advised to take into account a number of heating and insulation aspects when viewing a property. ‘Consider how much fuel (the fireplace) consumes, how little heat it gives out, how much draught it causes, and have a quick reality check. Wood burning stoves are rapidly becoming a preferred option, using less fuel, giving out more heat, causing no draught, and often heating water or cooking in addition to being a simple heat source.’
Period country houses often suffer from poor insulation and sash windows have a tendency to be draughty, unless the vendor has installed double glazing. In the long run, the most sensible thing to do with a bedroom fireplace is to block it up or put a balloon up the chimney.
‘Looking at the practical considerations of how a property will work (or not) during the winter months is really important,’ advises Jo Aldridge. ‘How easy is it to heat? How will snow and ice affect your access? Some properties are equipped with heated driveways but these are few and far between and have an obvious impact on fuel and environmental costs.
Other considerations to check:
* suitable storage for logs
* protection from the prevailing wind (summer views can turn into constant gales in the winter)
* winter cover for the swimming pool
* tree maintenance (large number of deciduous trees near the house will involve considerable raking of leaves during late autumn.