Eco-homes – the future is green
There is a perception that eco-homes are triple-glazed, futuristic-looking new builds overflowing with high tech modern features. Many of them are, but we’re all trying to run our homes more efficiently. Not just because it’s good for the planet, but because it saves a huge amount on annual fuel bills. So, what changes can we make to turn our property into an eco-home, without compromising on style?
The number one tip for making a home eco-friendly is to spend money on insulating the roof, walls and windows to make them as airtight as possible. It takes around three years to recoup the cost with guaranteed savings after that. Energy-efficient underfloor heating can also be retro-fitted and uses up to 40% less heat than a radiator. The good news is that eco technology is often out of sight. A rainwater harvesting system, essentially a big tank, is stored underground and recycles rainwater which is then used for washing machines and flushing toilets. Air-source or ground-source heat pumps convert heat energy from the air (or ground) to provide heat and hot water for the property. Incredibly efficient, for every single unit of electricity used they produce three units of heat. In the warmer months, switch them to air conditioning or alternatively, turn them off completely and throw open windows and doors.
There’s so much talk about energy saving light bulbs and green light fixtures, but what about letting more natural light into your home? Glass is a key eco-home ingredient and a skylight will make an enormous difference. Painting window frames a light colour and keeping windows clean also maximises light coming in. The less often you flick a switch the better. If you live in a conservation area then solar panels for generating electricity are a thorny issue, but they can be integrated into the roof rather than sitting awkwardly on top, and black solar panels are even less noticeable. Solar tiles are now increasingly popular and often acceptable by the local council.
Finally, if you do nothing else, turn your thermostat down by one degree. You won’t even notice the difference until it’s time to pay the bills.