Is it possible to be green when renovating? The construction industry is certainly a significant contributor to UK Carbon Dioxide emissions* but so are energy inefficient houses**. Here are things to consider to improve the long-term energy efficiency of your home, while reducing the negative impact of the work.
This is a complex topic – each property and situation should be separately/ pragmatically considered. There’s (unfortunately) no one size fits all with sustainable design – and in some cases we would recommend engaging an expert to advise on the best solution, and on potential issues which could arise when adopting new fittings/ technologies.
- Insulate! Most homes, especially period properties, are very energy inefficient – draughty windows, poorly insulated roofs, etc.
- Add insulation everywhere possible but especially exterior walls, roofs and ceiling/ floor voids
- Consider natural materials such as sheep wool (though these can be bulky)
- Investigate ‘high tech’ slim insulation – usually more expensive than standard, but useful for areas where you can’t add ‘bulk’
- Renovate to ensure they’re as draught proof as possible, or
- Replace with double-glazed (where possible), or
- Fit secondary glazing (inoffensive options are available…)
- Fit LEDs when replacing light fittings to reduce use of power
- Ensure your heating systems are effective:
- Replace elderly boilers to maximise energy efficiency
- Programme your systems carefully
- Consider smart thermostats so you can turn off heating/ hot water when you’re not at home
- Consider generating energy from renewable sources – air source heat pumps and solar panels may be simpler/ more affordable than you think
- Use natural materials for structural elements – consider innovative use of timber instead of steel/ concrete where possible
- Use natural timber instead of MDF for fitted furniture
- Look for upcycled or recycled materials– we like Smile recycled plastic work surfaces & alusid tiles.
- Choose natural materials rather than synthetics – timber boards rather than vinyl, mostly wool carpets instead of nylon (unless you can find recycled polyester carpet), natural, organic or recycled fabrics for curtains and upholstery
- Look for low VOC/ eco-friendly paints
- Grow house plants – beautiful, decorative, satisfying, biophilic and help reduce atmospheric C02
- Give away unwanted but still functional fittings and furniture – we constantly use Freecycle for furniture but also kitchen appliances, old doors, even redundant door handles…
- Upcycle – consider innovative ways to reuse fittings & finishes– a new location, paint colour or handles for an elderly chest of drawers, for example
- Rotate a summer/ winter wardrobe of your existing home accessories so you can get the regular buzz of creating a new look without buying new things every year.
** 80% of emissions associated with the built environment come from buildings in use: https://www.designingbuildings.co.uk/wiki/Carbon_dioxide_in_construction