The British summer of 2022 hit record highs, in temperature and cost of living, reminding us again of the need to take action to save the planet and our hard-hit purses.
It’s getting easier all the time to build an environmentally-friendly home for all budgets, from recycled and natural materials used in the build itself, to the technology that makes the finished project into a warm and inviting home. But there are many ways you can adapt an existing home – some big and some very small, but none insignificant.
From solar panels to smart meters to light bulbs, there are a plethora of measures that reduce the carbon impact of our homes.
Heating and Fuel
One of the larger investments to consider, solar panels can potentially supply all your electricity and, while a hefty layout up front, you can often more than make your money back. And they’re a more effective alternative to fossil fuel than ever.
Boilers and home heating systems are one of the biggest energy consumers in our homes. Smart meters can help reduce your carbon footprint and make it easier to keep track of your consumption.
Insulation – doors, windows, and roofs.
A well-insulated home holds in heat, takes less energy to keep warm and is one of the smartest ways to save money. It’s also worth looking at the materials you use. Cotton or denim insulation made from recycled fabric, or cellulose (plant fibres) are the most eco-friendly materials but using spray foam will also reduce your energy bill and your carbon footprint.
Double glazed windows aren’t the eyesore they used to be and there’s really no reason (outside of certain listed building requirements) not to have them anymore. It doesn’t mean you have to make do with UPVC either, which can emit toxic compounds. Sustainable wood can be durable, attractive and double glazed.
Energy efficient lighting
It seems a small thing, but many homes have at least one light on all day. LED lights can last around 50,000 hours (or up to 10 years!) so are definitely worth the initial outlay. Energy efficient light bulbs are improving all the time and offer far better light quality than they used to.
Even if you are building from new, it’s possible to re-use materials such as timber, brick and slate rather than buying new. And there are more and more new building materials being repurposed, such as recycled wood, that are well worth investigating. If you can re-use material that would otherwise have gone to landfill, it can be cheaper and equally as practical and attractive. NJ Architects can help you find salvage yards, auction houses and antique markets that offer a huge choice.
Inside and out
Water-based paints are more planet friendly and come in as many interesting colours than their oily counterparts. Something as simple as fabric can
make a big difference – whether you’re hoping for curtains or blinds, try to choose fabric that has been made ethically. A heavy drape and close-fitting blind can prevent a surprising amount of heat escaping.
Think about your shower…we love a giant power shower as much as the next person. But an aerated or low-flow shower head will save a surprising amount of energy over a year.
Finally, landscaping and plants – inside and out. Such a simple one this; not only beautiful and good for your mental health, plants turn CO2 into O2. Use water you’ve washed your potatoes in or collected in a water butt (or any old bucket). No need to turn the tap on!
Think about growing some veg or herbs (that you then don’t have to buy). Try not to pave over too much of your outside space to allow natural drainage. Use local tradesmen and suppliers wherever possible.
To find out how we can help you make your home more eco-friendly, call us on 01473 221150 or contact us here.