While the leaders and governments of the world continue to debate the best way to prevent climate change, there are ways that the average homeowner can take the matter into their own hands. New build properties need to be designed with sustainability in mind from the beginning, but there are also changes to be made to existing properties. Making a property sustainable is not only important for the health of the planet but can also help homeowners to reduce their energy bills significantly. If you are planning to renovate your home and would like to ensure that it is as sustainable and environmentally friendly as possible, here are some ideas to keep in mind.
One of the best changes you can make to your home to reduce your carbon footprint and make your home cheaper to heat is to upgrade its insulation. If your home is poorly insulated, you will be paying money for energy that is escaping straight out into the air outside. This will cause you to use your heating system more, increasing your bills and producing unnecessary carbon emissions.
It is relatively straightforward to insulate cavity walls and your loft, but solid walls may require additional lining or insulation attached to the exterior. Be sure to contact an insulation professional to make sure you choose the right materials, the work is completed to a high standard, and the insulation does not cause dampness.
Double or triple glazing
Lots of heat is lost through walls and the roof, but it is also lost through windows that are single-glazed and/or poorly sealed. Your windows (and doors) should be draughtproofed, but it is also important to upgrade to double or triple-glazed windows that prevent the conduction of heat from the inside to the outside. Some windows also have a coating or gas between the panes to reduce heat loss even further.
The natural energy from the sun, solar energy, can be used in your home in two ways. The first and most common choice for homeowners is to install solar photovoltaic (PV) panels such as those by SAVKAT Solar on the roof of the property. The solar PV system converts the sunlight into usable electricity even on a cloudy day. This free electricity can then be used to power your lights, appliances, electrical heating, or possibly an electric vehicle. In addition, because you have your own source of free and clean electricity, you will reduce your energy costs and give yourself more freedom from rising energy prices.
The second option (although some homeowners could install both systems) is to choose a solar thermal system. This system uses sunlight to heat water for your home, again reducing your carbon footprint and energy costs. Whether a solar thermal system will generate enough hot water for all your needs will depend on the size of the system and your level of usage.
In addition to solar thermal systems, there are several other renewable heating systems to consider that can drastically reduce your home’s carbon footprint.
An air-source heat pump looks a lot like a fan that sits outside the property, where it extracts latent heat from the air. This heat is then condensed and transferred to a tank of water, heating it for your wet central heating system and domestic use.
A ground source heat pump works on a similar principle, but it extracts latent heat from underneath the ground. Tubes of fluid are buried in the garden either vertically or horizontally, so you will need a good amount of outside space for this option. It is important to note that heat pumps generally cannot reach the same hot water temperature as a traditional boiler, so you may need to invest in radiators with a larger surface area or underfloor heating to compensate.
Alternatively, a biomass heating system could work if you have space for a large furnace and a store of wood pellets.
In many cases, a heating system is inefficient because of inadequate heating controls. In the past, homeowners would have had to heat their entire house or nothing at all, but today heating controls are much more sophisticated. Now you can set different rooms or zones of the house to different temperatures and set a detailed schedule, so you only use heat when and where it is needed. In addition, some smart thermostat systems enable you to control your heating via an app on your phone, so you can turn it on or off when you are not even there to avoid heating an empty home.
Natural and reclaimed materials
When it comes to decorating your home, be sure to choose eco-friendly, water-soluble paints made from plant dyes and minerals and environmentally friendly varnishes, wallpapers, and waxes.
A lot of demolition and construction ‘waste’ ends up being sent to landfills, so consider looking around salvage yards or contacting nearby demolition and remodeling companies to see what you can make use of.
Remember, the walls and floors of your home should also be made from natural products where possible, including the insulation. Wood, cork, and natural rubber that has been sustainably produced are popular choices to consider.