Living in an eco-friendly manner involves minimising damaging effects on the environment as far as possible. Domestic homes contribute a massive amount to our carbon footprint, whether that’s through construction, energy usage or design choices. It’s for this reason that many homeowners are asking – what can be done?
The good news is that with eco-friendly building materials, energy-efficient appliances and modern heating options, there are many ways to make your home more sustainable.
Here are 20 crucial changes you can make, to create a truly eco-friendly home.
- Improve your insulation: There’s no point investing in the latest renewable technology if your home isn’t properly insulated! This can be done with a range of materials, from sheep’s wool to expanding foam, and could save you more than £150 a year in energy bills. If you’re unsure where to start, the National Insulation Association is a good resource for professional advice.
- Upgrade windows: Installing double or triple-glazing will help reduce heat loss. Modern solutions include windows filled with low-conductivity gasses such as argon or specially coated “low-emissivity” glass that reflects heat back into your rooms.
- Make use of the sun: Extension and renovation projects allow you to reposition light-sources to incorporate passive solar heating. Passive solar means that windows make the most of daylight energy, reducing the need for heating during colder periods.
- Assess your roof: Cool roofs (typically using reflective paint, tiles or shingles) reduce the need for air conditioning during summer months. If chilly weather is more of a concern, consider a “green roof”. They aren’t just beautiful, but significantly reduce pollution whilst increasing insulation.
- Reclaim building materials: Using locally available, pre-used materials is one of the best ways to cut your carbon footprint. If you’re embarking on a renovation project, try visiting a reclamation yard. Just make sure to check with a specialist that everything’s fit for purpose.
- Eco-friendly finishes: When decorating, consider using eco-paints, which are water-soluble. They often use plant oils for the solution and minerals or plant dyes for the pigmentation – reducing unnecessary chemicals. Eco-friendly wood varnishes and waxes are also available.
- Energy efficient appliances: Electrical appliances have two costs: the initial purchase price and ongoing energy usage. Energy efficient options aren’t only great for the environment, they’re great for your wallet too.
- Use natural materials: For walls, lime and clay plasters are good natural materials. For floorboards and kitchen worktops, wood is the most popular choice. Just make sure it’s from a sustainable source (checking for the FSC logo). You could also go for cork, bamboo or even rubber.
- Don’t forget the basics: Good quality curtains and blinds add massive insulation value. Consider the flow of air (and heat) around your home. The placement of doors and soft furnishings make a big difference.
- Energy-Efficient Gardening: Energy-efficient gardens minimise water use, so research plants carefully and collect rainwater whenever possible. Go with native species and consider investing in a drip irrigation system (eliminating the need for electric pumps).
Heating and Energy
- Underfloor heating: Underfloor heating allows for a minimalist look with no unsightly pipes or bulky radiators. It operates at temperatures just a few degrees warmer than your room, circulating water through a network of pipes. These lower temperatures mean it’s easy to link with alternative heat sources such as solar thermal or heat pumps.
- HVAC systems: Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning systems are an integral part of sustainability. By closely monitoring the temperature and humidity of your home, they can save energy, reduce carbon emissions and cut-down on bills.
- Replace your boiler: Electric and biomass boilers are becoming more popular and efficient. Heat pumps (extracting warmth from the air, ground or water) are also a great alternative. They are environmentally friendly due to low energy consumption, further eliminating the need for gas pipes and oil tanks.
- Install solar panels: Solar is one of the most efficient ways to generate domestic renewable energy. Solar panels don’t always need direct sunlight to work (a bonus for UK homeowners!) – but they do need to be installed facing within 90 degrees of south.
- Evaluate your lighting: LED light bulbs use at least 75% less energy than traditional bulbs and last 25 times longer. This means less replacements, with cheaper operating costs. You could also consider motion sensor lights, saving energy if lights are ever accidentally left on.
- Choose eco-friendly products: Think about what cleaning products your using, from your dish-cloths to bedding, laundry detergents, toothbrushes and even toilet paper. Switching to products with a focus on sustainability will ensure your home is eco-friendly inside and out.
- Look at your water usage: We get a lot of rain – so why not make the most of this? Install a rainwater system that collects water via drainpipes. It can be used to flush toilets, fill washing machines and water your garden. You could also upgrade to low-flush toilets and shower heads.
- Go minimal: Minimalism is not only simple and stylish, but great for the environment too. The less we can consume, the less ecological damage we cause. So next time you’re purchasing that new item – think – is it really necessary?
- Think long-term: Aim to create a home that’s there for the long term. The materials you choose should be high-quality, hard-wearing and beautiful, meaning you won’t need to replace key furniture and finishes in five years’ time.
- Ask sustainability experts: If you’re serious about creating a truly eco-friendly home, talk to the experts! Sustainability is an area that’s constantly evolving and innovating – something that your architect will be able to advise on.
Thank you for reading our latest article!
We really hope that you find the above suggestions helpful when trying to create a more eco-friendly home. If you have any additional constructive suggestions, then we’d love to hear about these in the comments section below!
About EV Architects.
EV Architects is a multidisciplinary Architectural Practice that is located in East London. Originally founded in 2012 by our Senior Architect, Paul Bagnall, the Company provides Architectural, Design, Planning and Build services to Private Residential Customers that are Located Across Greater London and the immediate surrounding areas of East London, including Loughton, Buckhurst Hill, Woodford (South and Green), Chigwell and Theydon Bois.
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