Ten tips to make your home greener and save money

Michael Holmes
Michael Holmes
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With some details of the Government’s Green Deal still to be unveiled, The National Home Improvement Show spokesman Michael Holmes explains how taking sustainability and energy-efficiency into account when renovating or extending can make an immediate and significant difference to your energy bills and reduce your home’s carbon footprint.

“With the green deal set for a review in Autumn, home owners are becoming increasingly aware that improving energy efficiency and investing in renewable energies in the home will save them money now and in the future, particularly at trigger points when people are already undertaking building work on their property.

“It can also enhance the appearance of the home and this is likely to be a big driver.

“There are a number of ways in which a house can be made more ecologically sustainable including the installation of renewables such as thermalolar panels or a heat pump in place of a conventional boiler, micro generation such as photovoltaic panels or a wind turbine, and rainwater harvesting and grey water recycling. However, renovators must understand that whilst investing in renewables is a good idea, the starting point should be limiting the amount of energy we consume in the first place by looking at our own lifestyles, and the energy efficiency of our homes’ building fabric. The house should be highly insulated, free of draughts, and have low energy appliances and lighting. These improvements are relatively inexpensive, often very simple, and will result in a big saving on your total energy bill.”

Michael explains 10 ways to make your home greener and make both short and long term savings:

1. Insulation – insulating your home is about the most cost-effective ecological improvement you can make. Renovators can save up to £135 a year on energy bills with effective roof, floor and wall insulation.

2. Solar water heating – 30% of the average household heating bill is spent on heating water. Installing thermal solar panels to preheat domestic hot water can provide up to half the annual hot water requirement of the average family.

3. Water recycling – water recycling methods can save between 30-50% cent of a home’s water requirements. There are two types of water recycling methods: greywater recycling systems and rainwater harvesting. Greywater recycling collects used water from showers, baths and washbasins and once treated can be used for purposes that do not require drinking-water quality, whereas rainwater harvesting gathers rainwater from the roof and can be used again for purposes that do not require drinking-water quality.

4. Heat pumps – a heat pump is an ecological alternative to a conventional boiler for providing space heating and in some instances, domestic hot water.

5. Biomass – for those living away from the mains gas supply and relying on off-mains fuel, such as heating oil, lpg or electricity, biomass is a fuel choice that is both green and inexpensive.

Using biomass can mean installing a biomass boiler in place of a conventional boiler, or simply substituting some existing space heating with solid fuel stoves.

6. Low-energy lighting – energy saving light bulbs can last up to 10 times longer than ordinary bulbs. They cost as little as £3 each and can save around £55 per year.

7. Energy -efficient boilers – replacing an old boiler with a modern energy efficient boiler will reduce fuel bills significantly. Typical installation cost for a gas boiler is £2,300 according to The Energy Savings Trust.

8. Secondary glazing – giving period windows a makeover by ensuring they fit the frames correctly, adding draught seals and replacing any missing or cracked panes of glass will make a very significant difference to their energy performance.

9. Underfloor heating – running costs for underfloor heating tend to be between 10-30% cheaper than a radiator-based system.

10. Green finishes – natural finishes are the next step in continuing the eco theme throughout the home. There is little point in installing eco friendly and efficient systems and contradicting your good work by using conventional paints high in toxins and chemicals.