By Rachel Kruh of MyBuilder.com.
It’s easy to be intimidated by buzzwords such as carbon-neutral or renewable energy and most homeowners today are exhausted by the thought of short-term cost and long-term time commitment to switch to energy efficient living standards. The government is committed to its ‘Green Deal’ but the onus will be on the property owner to make their home more efficient. But saving energy solutions doesn’t have to be overwhelming and major changes can be achieved with minor tweaks.
If you’re not tempted by the idea of going green for environmental reasons, how about easing the burden on your bank account? Most of us waste money every single day because energy escapes from cracks in the ceiling, walls, floors, doors and windows. According to Energy Saving Trust, in an uninsulated house:
- 26% of heat is lost through the roof
- 33% of heat is lost through the walls
- 18% of heat is lost through the windows
- 11% of heat is lost through the floor and the door
- 12% of heat is lost due to draughts and essential ventilation
Changes you can make
James Christofides, an expert eco-builder and founder of Cambium Green says the main reason most old homes in the UK lose energy is because they are draughty. “If you can secure leaky doors and windows and reduce draught leakage, you’re off to a good start.”
SAVVY TIP: Get your window fitter to put construction tape around the window and secure it properly with fabric so it’s airtight.
Where to start
Some parts of your house will be easier to draught proof than others. Floors can lose a surprising amount of heat but can be a challenge if you have an older house.
- Floors: these are like a sieve for heat but are more expensive and difficult to retro-fit. If you’re having new floors installed make sure you take draught leakage into account when planning the redesign.
SAVVY TIP: If you need help, consult a qualified flooring installer who has experience in sustainability.
- Windows: The Energy Saving Trust recommends double glazed windows. It says you can save of around £130 on bills a year annually if you double glaze the whole house.
Building the ultimate eco friendly home
For new builds, Passivhaus (Passive House) is the standard of excellence for energy efficiency and all entry points are airsealed.
Passivhaus uses mechanical heat recovery ventilation systems and eliminates the need for traditional gas guzzling central heating. To make a building airtight, builders use highly glazed windows, cavity wall insulation, loft insulation etc. to cover off every crack and create a sound structure that will retain more energy.
SAVVY TIP: In general, passive houses in the UK will cost around 14% more but you can incorporate Passivhaus principles to match your lifestyle and budget. The ultimate goal of Passivhaus is to eliminate central heating in buildings but it’s not a practical option in most houses.
- Work out what’s practical for you. James and his team at Cambium Green are one of a few certified Passivhaus builders in the UK. He recommends asking questions such as: when lowering the amount of central heating how do you supply hot water? How much central heating is needed as a backup? How much electricity will be needed, on average?
SAVVY TIP: A decent solar system can be purchased for around £3,500 and can supply around 50 – 60% of the average home’s hot water needs. If you’re feeling inspired to start making your home more energy efficient, find local builders and tradesmen and get quotes on MyBuilder.com
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