Basics to creating an eco friendly low carbon property
Whether you are building your dream home from scratch or thrusting a period property into the 21st century the principles in creating a low carbon emission property remain the same.
We are going to take a look into the fundamentals of an eco home, which not only look ultra vogue but consist of scientific substance that can propel your property into the eco century. As a home owner the largest expenses you have to endure include electricity, gas, water and heating bills to name a few. These are essential costs to living nevertheless could regular bills be less expensive with the support of an eco home? Of course they can! The whole concept to an eco home is in reducing the environmental impact of which a property exerts. This is achieved using advanced materials and appliances which fundamentally reduce a properties carbon footprint through minimising it’s energy demand.
Insulation is a word you may of heard and but might nor fully understand the importance of. Firstly it doesn’t matter what top of the range heating system you have got, if your properties insulation is poor then your going to require more heating which equates to more energy, more expense and more carbon emissions. As we are all aware hot air quickly rises, which means the core to your insulation lies in trapping heat into rooms. Insulating the floors in your property is crucial whether this be ground floor, first floor through to second floor and more commonly and importantly roof insulation. The problem we find is that many households carry out retro fitting loft insulation which is fantastic, however if you make use of your loft conversion or roof space you will find it incredibly hot to the point of it being uncomfortable. Since your roof space is tightly insulated the majority of hot air is primarily making it’s way up through your floor boards of the first floor and into the roof space. Now through insulating your floors you can significantly help trap heat into lower floors within the home, which essentially means lessened heating requirements.
Eco heating system
While insulation should not be underestimated there is a certain status that you can take your insulation to before the expense to energy saving ratio is vastly over balanced. Earlier we covered the importance of insulation and crucially restricting our valuable heat from escaping, now we are going to take a look at eco central heating systems, which are the best value for money as well as the mot energy efficient. There are four main choices to heat our eco homes which include renewable heat, electric central heating, oil central heating and last but not least gas central heating. Firstly oil and gas are not a clean source of energy so they are struck off the list immediately. Electric heating on the other hand can be powered by renewable carbon free energy such as solar or wind which is a enormous bonus. More recently a range of eco electric radiators from a leading UK company called My Electric Radiators have been developed to such a refined efficiency, that from one hour of heating it’s possible the radiators might consume just 18 minutes of electricity. They are relatively inexpensive priced around £200 per radiator, each fitted with an in built thermostat and program settings. There are no expensive installation costs with electric heating since they powered directly from an electricity supply, creating a highly efficient and good value for money household heating system. Other renewable central heating systems include solar heating, now this technology works similarly to a wet system in that it incorporates pipework, a hot water cylinder and a thermostat. While it is certainly a green approach and one subject to praise, the only downside to this system is the poor efficiency, heat is lost through pipes and from the hot water tank even with insulation, leading to a lower performance. You can expect to pay between £3,000 – £5,000 for a solar water heating system and in contrast to electric radiators which require no maintenance, solar water heating does require some maintenance.
Eco homes can look very similar to neighbouring properties particularly if it has been retro fitted, the only way you would be able to notice any difference would be if you placed a thermal imaging camera across it then you would notice an air tight blue. Alternatively they can look delightfully futuristic yet still complement and fit into their surroundings. Whether that be the use of grass, glass, mirrors or other reflecting materials which can almost camouflage the buildings aesthetics especially if located in a more rural setting. While in the city eco homes could be perceived as more abstract and minimalist in design particularly in London. Often only a pallet of colours and materials are used. Of course what we do not wish for a repeat of is those uninspiring 60’s blocks of concrete that are crumbling away as we speak and quite frankly design wise look awful. However grey coated aluminium windows, doors and conservatories while a popular choice in 2016 are likely to become another outdated design. There seems to be a trend in all technology whether that be within the home, computers, mobile phones, cars whatever. Everything seems to be dramatically moving to a more minimalistic design, less fuss and chance to offend anyone. The performance of the material and product is left to do the talking while its appearance effortlessly blends and quite possible understates performance.
Eco appliances and fittings
Last but not least appliances and fittings, obvious ones include light bulbs, you may be surprised to discover electric lighting equates to on average 25% of a home energy bill. LED light bulbs have literally revolutionised energy efficient lighting. You can fit 20 x 3.5 watt light bulbs into your property with the same running costs as one 70 watt compact fluorescent light bulb. Other dominant household appliances include kettles, washing machines, chargers and hoovers all of which have eco energy efficient models which should be added into your eco home program. Additionally home smart meters are a valuable gadget which homeowners can use to monitor their own energy outgoings so they can make a conscious effort to minimise any uneconomical lifestyle patterns of their own. Smart meters cost around £150 and while not a large expense they may help you lead a more economic lifestyle providing the potential to create savings.
One thing that should stay in your design process is that although insulation and other technologies are by no means cheap there are long term privileges from the initial outlay which will pay dividends over time. There was recently an experiment in London that oversaw the refurbishment of an 1840s yellow brick terrace which underwent a mammoth energy efficient refurbishment that cost just shy of £179,000. Whilst this is unquestionably not justified through energy savings or even an increase in value what it did offer was a prototype and a process whereby we can learn from in order to trim down costs in order to scale up energy efficient retro fitting. While cost is a subject of concern to most of us the basics to any eco home has been highlighted above which includes firstly insulation which will prevent heat from escaping through to fitting your property with an energy efficient central heating system and lastly eco appliances. Your project should include all of these under this scale of priority.