HOW TO MAKE YOUR LIVING SPACE MORE ECO-FRIENDLY
Homeowners are becoming more environmentally conscious, not only in an effort to help the planet but also to lower household bills while still making homes comfortable to live in. Even small changes can make a more efficient living space and can make your home a perfect sanctuary.
Whether you’re building a new home, renovating, extending or simply making a few changes for an eco-friendly upgrade, we have ten tips to make your living space more sustainable.
What makes a more sustainable home?
Eco-friendly homes are devised to have as low an impact on the environment as possible. There are a few key principles to bare in mind to achieve a more sustainable home:
● Build in features to ensure optimum energy efficiency.
● Reuse and recycle materials where possible and avoid waste.
● Make the best use of naturally occurring sources of heat and light.
● Use as few environmental toxins as possible.
● Use a fabric-first approach
How to make your living space more eco-friendly
Keeping the above principles in mind will help make your home more eco-friendly as you make changes. From a fresh coat of paint to a more energy-efficient heating system, we explain the top ways to achieve sustainability.
Reuse materials and goods that you already have
This is perhaps the most simple step that you can apply no matter if you’re building a new home, renovating or extending. Reusing, recycling or repurposing your existing building materials can give you some of the best creative and characterful features too. You could reuse bricks from a knocked-down wall, repurpose timber from flooring or upcycle a piece of furniture that’s seen better days.
If you’re fitting a new kitchen, it may be that the carcasses are totally sound, in which case you can replace only the doors and worktops for a brand new look. This is not only more sustainable, but it’s also a great way to save money.
Consider a used kitchen
Purchasing a used or ex-display kitchen isn’t just more eco-friendly; it could also save you a lot of money. Often a second-hand kitchen will cost around 50% less than the RRP of a new one. You can find several large companies online such as Used Kitchen Exchange, which sells quality used kitchens and some will come with worktops and appliances.
All you’ll need is a good kitchen fitter to install the units and, depending on how the appliances are powered, a gas-safe engineer or electrician.
Add or upgrade your insulation
Adding or upgrading your insulation is one of the more effective ways of improving your home's eco-credentials. Good insulation helps to stop heat loss through walls or roofs which in turn can help you save on heating bills.
Loft insulation is an absolute must-have as heat rises, and empty lofts will suck up any heat. For walls, the type of insulation will largely depend on the construction of your building.
Use a fabric-first approach
A fabric-first approach means that the design of the house itself will maximise the building’s performance. It refers to the materials used, positioning of doors and windows and the orientation of the building being given priority over any mechanical features such as solar panels.
If you’re renovating an existing property, this means prioritising repairs, insulation, draft-proofing and ventilation before adding anything such as a new heat pump, which won’t be as efficient if drafts haven’t been sealed or rooms insulated.
If you’re already living a more eco-friendly lifestyle, you’ll know that shopping locally really helps. By trying to buy locally produced and sold building materials, you will be helping to cut emissions as well as supporting your local economy.
Update your windows
A great way to make older homes more eco-friendly is to replace single glazing with double glazing; this will make a huge difference as double glazing prevents drafts and heat loss. Some homeowners opt for triple glazing as an extra measure, but this does cost more, and the benefits are unlikely to outweigh the cost.
If your existing windows are a little draughty and you don’t want to replace them right now, you should try to seal any gaps and consider adding a film to prevent heat loss or absorb natural heat from outside.
Consider renewable energy sources
Some of the most effective, but not cheapest, ways to make your home more eco-friendly are renewable energy systems. There are many more options available now that are constantly developing and evolving. Using energy derived from natural resources for example the sun, wind or water saves ever-decreasing supplies of fossil fuels and is better for the environment. Some popular renewable energy systems are biomass boilers, air source heating pumps, ground source heat pumps and of course, solar panels.
Harvesting rainwater to use within your home is the perfect way to reduce your mains water usage. A simple and inexpensive water butt can reduce the water you use in your garden significantly. If you’re looking to save even water, installing a rainwater harvesting system could be right for you. Typically, these can save you around 50% of mains water usage.
Rainwater harvesting systems thoroughly filter collected rainwater and then store it below ground at a constant, cool temperature and away from any light to keep it perfectly fresh. It can then be used to flush toilets, for washing machines or outdoors to keep your garden looking beautiful.
Use low VOC paints
If you’re redecorating your home, you should choose low VOC paints which contain fewer Volatile Organic Compounds than regular paints. VOCs are chemical compounds which are potentially damaging to both health and the environment. They’re found in all sorts of products but in the case of paints, VOCs are not only released when the paint is being put onto a wall, they also continue to be released throughout the years.
Low VOC paints are now more readily available, and there is a huge range of colours and finishes to choose from.
Install a log-burning stove
If you are considering installing a fire in your home, you should consider a log-burning stove alternative for an eco-friendly option. Biofuel, gas and electric are more sustainable options, and a log-burning stove will be a beautiful feature in your home.
Even if you can only implement two or three of these tips, you’ll still be doing your bit to help the environment and you’ll also potentially reduce your utility bills too.
If you’re planning to make your home renovations with eco-friendly features, contact us to see how we can help incorporate sustainable elements into your designs.