Best Eco Home Modifications

Find out what home modifications can make your home more efficient!

eco friendly home mods - solar panels

There is no denying that building eco homes will be a big factor in pushing towards a greener planet. With so many existing properties, many of which have been standing for over 100 years, retrospectively fitting eco measures will be a crucial step towards an eco future. 
With the government currently putting a hold on the Green Homes Scheme, the onus is now falling entirely on homeowners to fit their properties with green upgrades. 
So, what are your options as a homeowner to upgrade your homes efficiency? Here are some of the top efficiency upgrades available at the moment:

Upgrading Home Insulation

The first port of call for any eco home upgrade should always be the insulation. This is for two reasons; Its is a relatively cheap option to install, and many of the other methods of making your home green will be completely moot if your home doesn’t hold the heat. 
You can check easily whether your loft is insulated during winter. When the snow falls and the roofs are covered in a layer of snow – take a look at your roof. If your roof retains the snow, and it doesn’t melt, then your roof is insulated properly and is not letting the heat escape. If the snow on your roof melts quickly then you will require an insulation upgrade in your loft. You may even be able to spot specific weak areas where the heat is escaping, such as around a chimney breast. 
Solid walled homes are trickier to insulate because there is no void to place the insulation, but there are options such as thermal lining. In older homes it is worth keeping in mind that the breathability of the property is important to avoid damp. 

Double or Triple Glazing

It is so important that your homes windows perform well, as over 10 percent of a homes heat can be lost through them. To avoid this, it is imperative to ensure that your home has at the very least, double glazed windows, and even better, tripled glazed windows. Double or triple glazed windows will slow the heat transfer and you can even reduce this further by opting for  products filled with a low-conductivity gas, such as argon. Some window options even have a coating which reflects heat back into the room. 

Fitting Solar Panels

Having solar panels fitted to produce electricity which can be used to generate electricity or produce hot water, can greatly reduce your household bills, and can provide financial incentives. 
Contrary to common opinion, solar photovoltaic systems covert sunlight to electricity and do not actually require direct sunlight to work – which is great news for us Brits! These panels will work even on cloudy days, but you will need to have them installed on a roof or wall which faces within 90 degrees of south. Costs for solar panels can vary, so it’s best to get expert advice before committing.
For hot water, there are water based solutions such as evacuated tubes or flat plate collectors fitted to your roof which use energy from the sun to directly heat up the water for your home. A back up system can be used to boost the temperature if required. Most boiler systems will be compatible with a solar water heater.
If you live in England, then you likely won’t need planning permission for most systems, depending on size.

Under Floor Heating

Under floor heating is a great complimentary feature used in conjunction with other renewable options. Because the underfloor heating runs at only a couple of degrees higher than room temperature, it works very well with renewable and natural heating sources. Under floor heating uses warm water flowing through cross linked pipes under the floor.  Under floor heating can be costly to install, and is best done as part of an overall renovation, as it will require lifting the floor up. Whilst being an eco friendly modification, it is also a great way of warming up a home where you want hard flooring such as stone, tile and hard wood. 

Reclaimed and Pre-loved Materials

One way of making eco friendly home alterations which many people may not consider, is to used reclaimed materials and second hand fixtures and fittings in order to reduce the carbon footprint of your home modification.
Utilising second hand materials removes these from the waste stream, and is fantastic for the environment. Second hand materials and fixtures can be sourced directly from demolition sites, or from salvage yards. Reclaiming used materials is particularly suitable for homeowners wanting to achieve sympathetic renovations on historical properties. 

Renewable Heating Systems

We’ve already talked about using the power of the sun to heat your water, but there are many other options worth considering, including wood fuelled systems such as biomass boilers, or heat source pumps. 
- Ground source heat pumps use pipes buried deep under ground to extract heat from from the earth to heat your water and and home heating system. You don’t usually require planning permission for this, but the works can be quite extensive and disruptive. 
- Air source heat pumps have a similar functionality but extract the heat from the air rather than the earth. They can be fitted in loft spaces, or to external walls, making them a perfect solution for those of us with minimal outdoor space. 
- Wood fuelled biomass systems use wooden pellets or logs to power central heating or heat specific areas. Stand alone stoves or log burners can be used to heat a single room or fitted with a back boiler to heat a hot water system. 

Improve Thermostats and Heating Controls

The amount of energy consumed heating spaces can be dropped by up to 35% by using smart HVAC controls (Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning, for those not in the know). This works by regulating the temperature, as a single degree in temperature drop can equate to a ten percent saving overall. 
These are a relatively low cost solution with prices starting below £500, and HVAC controls can be zoned to control different areas so the more frequently used areas are kept at a higher temperature than the lesser used rooms. 

Using Natural Materials

Using natural materials for your home renovations or extensions is a great way of ensuring that your home is chemical free. Natural materials are breathable and allow a structure to be more in sync with its surroundings. Modifications can range from small material changes such as solid wood flooring, or natural stone tiles, through to larger changes such as lime or clay plasters. If the natural “look” is not your vibe, then you can still opt for super modern structures using natural materials like metal. 

Re-use and recycle water

Whether it’s collecting rainwater, re-using grey water or simply installing a low flow toilet to reduce the amount of water used, there are many options for maximising efficiencies in the way your household uses water. 

Keen to make your home eco friendly? 

If you are interested in adding eco friendly home modifications to your property, get in touch with your local Refresh Renovation consultant today to book a no obligation consultation to discuss your project. 
*All information is believed to be true at the time of publication and is subject to change.

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