The Benefits of Eco-Friendly Homes

What is an eco-friendly home? And how can you make your home more eco-friendly and energy-efficient? We have some suggestions right here!

We love nothing more than showing households just how much they could save by switching to the right energy plan. But we’re also keen to show them the different ways they can enhance their savings by making changes around the home. Some of these may require a substantial investment, but will more than pay for themselves in the years to come. Like installing PV solar panels (to provide electricity) or solar thermal panels (to supply hot water. Others are more modest in cost but could still reduce your energy costs and your carbon footprint. Such as improving the insulation, draught proofing or replacing your bulbs etc..

Here we’ll look at the benefits of eco-friendly homes and how anyone, whatever their budget or property type, can make their home greener and more energy-efficient.

What is an eco-friendly home?

What do we mean when we talk about eco-friendly homes? We may assume that a newer home is, by default, more eco-friendly. And this is generally true. Newer properties are built to more rigorous specifications using more advanced materials that were not available half a century ago. But they typically have insulation materials that are not environmentally friendly, and the insulation is fitted to fairly basic standards (without vapour control layers or breather membranes etc. so even new homes can be improved upon. Nonetheless, even if you have an older property, there are still ways in which you can make your property perform as well as a newer equivalent with some strategic investment in the right places. Eco Home Essentials is a great resource for showcasing and comparing different eco-friendly home technologies. You can check out their website here.

What are the basic steps?

When making your home more energy-efficient, it’s important to ascertain your highest priorities. Given that heating accounts for almost half your energy costs, and that heat loss is the biggest cause of energy wastage, your insulation and draught proofing should be a high priority. That doesn’t necessarily have to mean that you need to completely upgrade your home’s insulation (although doing so could save in excess of £300 per year on your energy bills). You can start with the loft and then do individual rooms as you renovate or redecorate (assuming you have solid walls and are insulating internally). Cavity walls are easily insulated and provided you stick to some simple do’s and don’ts you shouldn’t run into any problems. Even something as simple as fitting draught excluders to your external doors and letterboxes can make a big difference.

Eliminating uncontrolled ventilation (draughts) should also be a high priority as this will help maintain the heat in your home for longer and mean your boiler has to fire up less. LED light bulbs are also a great way to make your home more eco-friendly without spending a lot of money upfront. They’re highly energy-efficient, long-lasting and recyclable. They use almost 20% less energy than CFL bulbs and over 80% less than incandescent bulbs.

What are the most cost effective changes?

If you’re looking for eco-friendly changes that you can make right now without spending a lot upfront, we recommend:

“[list-steps]

  • Installing LED light bulbs
  • Draught proofing and eliminating uncontrolled ventilation
  • Maintaining controlled ventilation such as trickle vents to windows and extractor fans
  • Turn down room thermostats by by 1°C
  • Install a jacket on your hot water cylinder
  • upgrade tour old boiler to an energy efficient model
  • Buy energy efficient appliances
  • Smart thermostats and zoned heating systems or fit Thermostatic Radiator Valves

[/list-steps]”

Why is Ventilation so Important?

There are two forms of ventilation:
Controlled Ventilation – This is ventilation that is essential to you home as it allows sufficient air changes per hour to maintain healthy air quality and reduce the risk of condensation, the formation of black mould and condensation. It is provided by the trickle vents in your window frames, the extractor fan in your bathrooms and kitchen and it is a Building Control requirement.

Uncontrolled Ventilation – this is basically draughts around poorly fitted and sealed windows and doors, around letter boxes and services such as pipes where they go though the main walls of your property. These are typically caused by poor workmanship and are usually pretty easy to seal up.

If you have a lot of uncontrolled ventilation you will struggle to maintain heat within your home. So when your boiler goes off the house gets cold again really quickly. By sealing the draughts you will be able to maintain the heat for longer and if you can do that your boiler fires up less and therefore costs you less.

How do you know if the house you’re buying is efficient?

When moving into a new property, you want to know that it’s as eco-friendly as possible. But how do you get the whole story? Your Energy Performance Certificate is a great starting point, but it will only tell you so much. For instance, it won’t tell you if the insulation has been well installed, or if there is a vapour control layer, or an air tightness layer on top of your insulation to reduce the risk of wind wash.

Eco-home Essentials is a great resource to explain all these things you need to be aware of as a homeowner. Their accessible resources will leave you in a better position to judge the quality of the work that’s been done on your home, and how you can build more eco-friendly measures on top of what’s already there.

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