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Planning is key. While you can retrofit certain energy-saving features, if you start your building process with energy-saving and eco-friendly initiatives in mind, you can create a beautiful home that is designed to complement its environment.
Thinking about your project’s orientation, and maximising the amount of natural light in the rooms that you use the most, is the simplest way to improve energy efficiency.
Insulation is the main element of your house-build that will enable you to improve your energy efficiency and the heating costs associated with your home. These can also be sourced sustainably, try using recycled or natural materials such as newspaper pulp or sheep’s wool.
Triple glazing and low-emissivity coated glass can dramatically reduce the amount of heat lost compared to standard double glazing. This means that you can still have those dramatic vistas and natural light, without compromising your energy-efficiency, creating a stylish space for modern living.
Installing solar photovoltaic (PV) panels on a roof or elsewhere on your plot is increasing in popularity in the UK. Small-scale wind turbines and ground-source heat pumps are also an option for generating your own renewable energy. The government is currently trying to encourage people to adopt renewable energy at home using schemes such as the “Feed-In Tariff”, where you can potentially claim money back from your energy supplier for the energy you have generated through your solar panels or wind turbines.
Mechanical ventilation recovery systems provide clean, fresh air to your home without losing heat energy. The warm air is extracted from inside the house while fresh air is brought in from outside. Each of these ventilation streams pass over a heat exchange element (usually hidden in the roof structure) which transfers the heat to the clean air that then enters your home. Good ventilation is known to have health benefits, and these systems can reduce the amount of heat lost, helping you to create a healthy, happy, eco-friendly home.
A rainwater harvesting system incorporated into the design of your house could cut your water bills by up to 50%. The rainwater runs off the roof into the guttering system then filtered to remove any debris. The water is then stored in an underground tank and can be used for a variety of applications; WC flushing, garden watering and irrigation, washing cars or domestic laundry.
Smart thermostats have been available on the market for a few years. They allow you to control your heating remotely, e.g. from your smartphone, and can “learn” your habits to ensure your heating and hot water systems are only on when you need them.
LED lighting is now fairly standard in homes across the UK. They use less energy and have a longer lifespan than their standard or halogen counterparts. You can improve energy savings even further by installing timer switches or motion sensors.
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