Are you looking to turn your home into an eco-friendly, self sufficient abode that doesn’t resemble a recluses forestry log cabin?
Then we might have some solutions to help you to turn your home from an environmentally unfriendly home into one that has a life of its own and is completely self sufficient.
Self sufficient stereotype
When you ask someone to picture a self sufficient home the first thing that comes to mind is a small shack with a green roof in the middle of the woods featuring little to no modern amenities – but a house’s self sufficient status does not necessary mean that stereotype has to apply.
Advancements in architecture and technology ranging from complete home rebuilds to simple alterations such as glazing, insulation, interior design and heating systems now mean self sufficient homes can resemble almost anything you want, not limited to off the grid, forestry dwellings.
External self sufficient ideas
What is the most powerful source of energy in our galaxy? That would be the sun, so why not make better use of it.
Installing solar panels can be expensive and time consuming, but it will not only help you reduce energy waste in your home and reduce your monthly energy bills, it will also help reduce carbon emissions each home produces every year.
Heat and energy efficient home
Heat and energy efficient homes begin with a smart design and incorporate their surrounding environment. The ideal site would be one that is unobscured from the sun, has flat topography and little exposure to the weather (that one may be very difficult in some regions).
Considering how the climate affects the design of your home is important for finding out air tightness, insulation levels, moisture control and daylighting opportunities
Heating and supplying energy are the biggest expense for self sufficient homes.
Windows and doors are energy holes, sucking heat and energy from your home without you even realising it.
Making sure your windows are updated and insulated to a high standard can dramatically improve your homes prospects of being self and energy sufficient.
Well insulated and triple glazed, fitted windows installed is one of the most effective ways for making your home energy efficient. It can dramatically reduce the cost of your energy bills and decrease the volume of heat lost from your home.
Green building materials
Concrete is the most commonly used material to build cities, homes, businesses, bridges, pavements and more. It is one of the most ubiquitous materials used across modern urban life, but it has a dark secret. The creation of concrete generates tones of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) and contributes to climate change.
There are ways to build homes without using this harmful material, and in the process make your home energy and self sufficient, which will in turn help lower the environmental impact.
Building your new self sufficient home with materials such as straw bales, grasscrete, rammed earth, hempcrete, bamboo, recycled plastic, wood, mycelium, ferrock, ashcrete are all examples of alternatives to concrete.
Internal self sufficient ideas
Research has revealed that wall radiators are one of the most energy-inefficient aspects of the modern home.
They are unable to heat rooms entirely and can often be very costly. Installing underfloor heating is the way forward. Heat rises, therefore heating the entire room from the floor up, and if installed correctly it can heat every corner of the room.
It is generally associated with bathrooms but underfloor heating can be installed throughout the home, and it frees up space that would have been used to house standard wall radiators.
Energy efficient light bulbs
Minimising energy use for lighting, while optimising light in the home, is an important feature of when trying to make your home self and energy sufficient.
LED lights are the perfect match for these tasks. They are more energy efficient than cheap standard light bulbs and last longer.
Selecting the right energy efficient lights, and positioning them around the home strategically, can drastically reduce a home’s energy use.
Insulate loft spaces and drafty areas
Heat rises, so when you put your central heating on the heat will naturally rise throughout the house.
If you have not properly insulated your loft space, roof or walls then all that heat generated will escape from your home. The aim is to retain as much heat as possible so that you are not forced to keep your central heating on for long stretches.
By insulating your home properly it means the heat generated is retained in the home and does not require constant topping up.
Energy efficient heating and cooling system
Water heating is the largest energy expense in homes – according to Energy Saving Trust.
It is where most homes fail when trying to achieve self sustaining and eco friendly status.
A good way of improving your water heating and cooling systems is to install features such as water-saving taps, solar water heating, electric resistance water heaters, circulating hot water systems, energy efficient washing machines and dishwashers and a water saving shower head.
Energy efficient appliances
In a typical zero energy home over 40% of the home’s energy use is accounted for by heating, cooling and hot water, while appliances and plug loads account for the other 60%.
Selecting energy efficient appliances and managing “phantom” plug loads – plugs left switched on unnecessarily – for electronics is essential. “Phantom” plug loads are hard to find and continue to draw energy unseen, day and night whether or not the devices are being used.
Using energy efficient washing machines and dishwashers, kitchen appliances, televisions and other entertainment appliances, while installing mechanisms to cut down on “phantom” plug wastage, can dramatically improve a homes energy footprint.
By Alex McLeman