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Considering eco homes

Considering eco homes

Green building is a passion of mine and so across two blogs I have decided to look at the issue of minimising the environmental impact of today’s homes and living.

This means considering thermal efficiency and renewable technologies and thinking about which solutions may be right for you.

If your goal is to either reduce your utilities bills or your carbon footprint, making your house more thermally efficient is the way to go.

This is best achieved by increasing the insulation and air tightness of your house to hold the heat in.

You can then look at renewable energy systems to produce that heat and work out which is best for your situation.

The choices are ever increasing and your decision is likely to be based on a number of factors.

These will include budget and your reasons for choosing this less traditional route in the first place.

Your own situation is a consideration:

    Are you retrofitting an existing property or building a new house?

    Where does that house sit in relation to sun and wind?

    Is there land to consider ground source heat pumps?

Other factors also come into play, such as your use of the house: for example, do you work from home or are you hardly ever there?

So let’s look at insulation and air tightness first:

In a new build scenario, these can be dealt with through the construction method used and attention to detail in cold bridging, utilities access routes etc.

In an existing house, homeowners may have been given recommendations towards making their home more thermally efficient on an EPC ratings certificate.

These may or may not be practicable – adding wall and floor insulation to your existing house is a significant intervention and more often than not, homeowners simply resort to putting additional insulation in the attic or roof space.

Green Deal financial assistance does not always seem like a big enough incentive for many homeowners to take it up, but most don’t even take the first step of contacting a Green Deal assessor or provider to see whether they might be eligible for financial assistance.

Check your EPC documents for your current rating and look them up online – you never know, and you could save yourself money in lower heating costs and get financial assistance to do so.

One of the concerns around adding wall insulation is loss of floor space and it is true that many options do require a decent thickness of insulation, often necessitating timber studding, consequently squeezing the available space.

However, there are single layer insulators that are easy to fix. These include products using extruded polystyrene (XPS, Klima, Warmup board) and those using latex (Sempatap).

The Green Building Store has published a free technical briefing to help renovators make their homes greener.

They retrofitted a farmhouse to Passivhaus standards using the Passivhaus Planning Package, with a cork-based internal wall insulation that is breathable but provides good thermal performance ratings.

You can own a period property and make it green!

In my next blog I will look at heat, electricity and government incentives….

 

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