How to Make a House Eco Friendly
Climate change is a fundamental issue that affects us all. Thankfully in modern society, many more people are now becoming more aware of the impact they have individually on the environment and are looking for ways to live a more eco-friendly life. From the clothes we wear, to the vehicles we drive and even the homes we live in, all aspects of our life have an effect on the condition of our planet.
If you are looking to lead a more eco-conscious life but are wondering where to start, why not start at home. From small alterations to larger scale modifications, there are a multitude of changes we can make to our homes to significantly reduce their environmental impact and even help to save some money.
How to Improve the Energy Efficiency of your Home
One major way that all of us can make our home more eco-friendly is by improving heat and energy efficiency. Significant levels of energy are used every year to keep our homes warm and comfortable. This not only has a major impact on the environment but can also be very costly and expensive. Thankfully, there are a variety of ways that you can improve your carbon footprint and cut costs.
Ensuring your windows have sufficient glazing is a simple yet highly effective way of improving your home’s heat efficiency. Glazing helps to minimise heat loss through the windows which in turn will reduce how often you reach to your thermostat to bump up the heating.
How Does Glazing Work?
There are multiple types of window glazing including double, triple and even quadruple glazing. Double glazing consists of two glass panes with a gap of argon gas in between. Triple glazing instead incorporates three glass sheets separated by areas of gas and quadruple comprises of four glass panes.
The air gap between the panes helps to slow down thermal transfer by conduction. As air can not circulate within the gaps, air convection is slowed which minimises heat transfer. Glazing even helps to reduce noise as well as lessening condensation and moisture build-up.
FAKRO produces high-quality quadruple-glazed windows such as the FAKRO Flat Roof Window with four layers of glazing stopping any heat from escaping. This thickened design combined with an incredibly tight seal around the window provides top level thermal and acoustic insulation.
Which Type Should I Choose?
A good indicator to look out for when buying heat efficient windows is u-value. The u-value is the measure of how well a window stops heat from passing through it, or how much heat you are losing through it. The lower the u-value the more thermally efficient your house is.
A hugely popular way of improving heat efficiency is through insulation. Whether you are installing all brand new insulation or topping up existing material, there are a multitude of variations suited to the different areas of your home. Common areas of insulation include:
- Loft insulation
- Cavity wall insulation
- Solid wall internal insulation
- Solid wall external insulation
- Wood floor insulation
- Solid floor insulation
- Crawl space insulation
Here at Roofing Megastore, we wide range of insulation products. Natural insulation materials such as hemp and sheep’s wool are brilliantly sustainable options that help to lessen environmental impact whilst still providing excellent insulative properties.
Why Do I Need Insulation?
Insulation helps to maintain the desired temperature throughout your home, keeping the space warm in winter and cooler in the summer. As heat rises, it can easily escape through your roof space without adequate insulation. In fact, it is estimated that around 25% of the heat from your boiler will be lost through your roof.
Investing in good insulation will eventually pay back so it’s a smart investment to make.
If you already have insulation but it’s not very effective then you can add another layer on top. If this sounds like a practical option for your home why not take a look at our handy article to provide you with more information on putting a second layer of insulation in.
To maximise the performance and effectiveness of your insulation, it is important keep an eye on the condition of your roof. Ensure that your roof is in good shape and that you don’t have any roof tiles missing, loose or chipped. If you do and you get a leak, your insulation could get wet which will immediately reduce its efficiency.
Your chimney is another area of the home that you could be losing significant amounts of heat without realising it. A simple way to improve the energy efficiency of your fire is by installing a chimney cowl.
Cowls are fitted to your chimney pot and are designed to minimise downdrafts, draw issues, rain entry and blockages. With a steady even draw and reduced downdraft, the efficiency of your stove or fireplace could be increased by up to 20%, cutting the amount of fuel that needs to be used. The cleaner burn will also help to reduce soot production and pollution.
All in all, chimney cowls are a great add-on that benefit the environment and reduce excess costs for you. Browse our high-quality selection of chimney cowls if this sounds like a practical improvement for your home.
Upgrading your Boiler
In older homes especially, you will often find very outdated boiler systems that lose a lot of heat and actually cost you more than you save. Upgrading your boiler to a newer, more energy efficient model is a great way of helping the environment, saving you money and creating a better heated, more comfortable home.
Building regulations state that for old boiler replacement, the new system must have an A-rating for energy efficiency. It should be at least 88% efficient, although most modern boilers will score over 90%.
Smart meters are practical and easy to use home display devices that help you to track the amount of energy you are using as well as how much it is costing. They provide real-time information on your energy usage throughout the home which can help you to manage and reduce more effectively. Although a smart meter may seem like an unnecessary extra cost upfront, in the long run they can be very helpful in creating a more sustainable home, reducing carbon footprint and maximising savings.
Draught proofing is a simple yet effective process that involves filling in any gaps where cold air could escape from your home. There are many areas of the home where draught proofing is effective including:
- Doors (underneath, keyholes, letterboxes)
- Loft hatches
- Wall cracks
- Skirting boards
- Around electricity fittings
It is estimated that adequately draught proofing your home could save up to £60 per year on heating bills in the average UK household. In fact, if every single home across the UK where to draught proof their properties, the total amount of energy savings could reach up to £190 million with enough energy saved to heat nearly 400,000 homes.
Renewable Energy Sources
Renewable energy is fully sustainable which means it won’t run out in the future. Powering your home through a renewable energy source is a fantastic way of lessening your environment impact.
There are a variety of choices when it comes to renewable energy, however the most commonly utilised for homeowners include:
- Solar panels
- Heat pumps
Solar panels work by absorbing sunlight with photovoltaic cells then converting this sunlight into electricity which can be used to power the appliances and lighting throughout your home. Although solar panels may seem expensive upfront, they can provide some significant long-term savings for energy bills and create a far more eco-friendly home.
Air source heat pumps and ground source heat pumps utilise naturally occurring warm air or ground heat to create power. Although they do require electricity to operate, the volume of electricity used is typically pretty small and in the long-term, savings and efficiency can be boosted significantly.
Biomass heating systems work by burning organic material in a wood burning stove or boiler which in turn produces heat and hot water. Typically a biomass heating system will be used in a single room, so homeowners may also choose to invest in an energy efficient central heating system for larger homes.
You also have the option of fitting a ‘back boiler’ which uses the heat made from the biomass to heat your entire home. Although stoves do produce some pollutants, they have a far higher efficiency level than open fires and burnt fuels.
Switching to energy efficient fittings is a simple and affordable way of making your home more eco-friendly. Popular fittings to lessen energy consumption include:
- LED light bulbs & downlights
- Low flush toilets
- Low flow taps
- Water-saving shower heads
- PIR (passive infrared sensors) which detect motion and switch off lights automatically
You could even invest in larger, more efficient appliances such as reduced-capacity baths and energy saving washing machines, freezers, kettles etc.
Eco-Friendly Building Materials
A fundamental method of reducing your home’s environmental impact is by starting right at the materials you use to construct it. Choosing products from recycled sources and that are even recyclable themselves is an important yet simple step that more and more homeowners are including in the building process.
Often these products offer a number of other benefits too. For example, many of the materials we stock are far lighter than conventional products which not only makes for easier handling, transportation and installation, but can also help you to decrease your CO2 emissions throughout the build.
So, what products are out there on the market?
Here at Roofing Megastore, we stock a wide range of sustainable roof tiles which are not only perfect for an environmentally conscious build but are also suitable for DIY installation. What’s more, these tiles are only becoming more and more popular.
Manufactured using a variety of recycled materials, our high-quality range of Lightweight Tiles are very environmentally friendly. They are 100% recyclable at the end of their lifespan to improve sustainability plus utilise a more eco-conscious production process.
As you may expect from the name, this tile range weighs in at just 6kg per m2, ensuring easier installation for both professionals and avid DIYers. A mix of granulated and smooth tiles are available to create a sleek, eye-catching look whilst maintaining excellent durability and strength. The materials are completely non-corrosive, meaning each tile is completely resistant to decay with excellent weatherproof properties.
IKO Slates are eco-friendly, man-made, synthetic slates that are constructed from 99% recycled materials. They are cleverly formed in moulds taken from natural slate, so provide the beautiful irregularities that are unique to the real thing. The differing textures, patterns and riven edges create an effortlessly stylish natural aesthetic that is so popular on homes across the UK.
IKO slates are 80% lighter than natural slate meaning transportation and installation is far easier, quicker and more economical. Their reduced weight also means you can enjoy the natural look of slate on roof structures that aren’t typically robust enough to carry real slate such as on garden buildings, summerhouses or conservatories.
The perfect alternative to natural slates, Envirotiles cleverly mimic the elegant appearance of raw materials with far superior performance and enhanced practicality. These high-quality tiles are 100% recyclable, manufactured using environmentally sustainable materials that would otherwise be dumped in landfill.
This eco-friendly product is 80% lighter than traditional roof tiles and slates whilst maintaining a performance level that is 5 times better. At just 8.5kg per m2, these impressive tiles allows for far easier fitting, cutting installation times by 25%. Better yet, with a complete 25-year manufacturer guarantee, you won’t have to worry about repairs or replacements anytime into the near future.
Green Roof Systems
Green roof systems are an innovative way of creating an attractive an eye-catching roof structure whilst also giving back to the environment. They are designed to provide natural habitats for wildlife such as bees and butterflies whilst also absorbing CO2, pollution and particulates from the atmosphere.
Green roofs also help to improve the thermal insulation of your property which in turn lessens your overall energy usage. When plants absorb sunlight, 50% is absorbed and 30% reflected, creating a cooler internal and external climate. This cooler roof improves the efficiency of solar panels which is another practical way of minimising energy costs.
To reduce the risks of flooding, green roofs also reduce the volume and speed of rainwater run-off by up to 50%, protecting the structure and roofing membrane. They even act as an effective sound barrier, reducing ambient noise both inside and outside for a more peaceful, quieter environment.
Most green roof structures are available as M-trays, which are trays containing substrate and established sedum plants. They easily click together forming a coverage across the roof.
The sebum plants are acclimatised to the UK climate, so flower during spring and summer providing pollinators for the bees. You can even request wildflower trays which provide even more pollinators for nature or as empty trays to fill with plants native to your area and climate.
Take a look at our fantastic range of green roof kits here available at Roofing Megastore now.
Climate change is a major issue that we all need to work together to fix. It is vitally important that each of us do our bit to lead more eco-conscious lives to protect our planet. By making just a few changes within our homes, we can not only enhance sustainability and reduce carbon footprints, but also create a more comfortable home environment and even save big on yearly costs.
Alternatively, if you have any further questions or queries, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly customer service team who will be more than happy to help. Simply give them a call on 01295 565565, email [email protected], or leave a message in our handy live chat.