Sustainable Eco Houses
If you want to build a low-energy or zero-carbon home – and why wouldn’t you, it’ll save you heaps on your bills as well as helping the environment – you need to incorporate energy saving into your design from the start. Although good technology, like energy-efficient boilers or solar panels, is really important, the way your home is actually designed is equally crucial, if not more so.
Nothing is more important than insulation when you are building an energy-efficient home. You can invest in all the fancy heating and energy-saving systems you like, but if your home can’t keep the heat in, you’ll be wasting your time – and your money. Sustainable home designs should incorporate good quality wall and loft insulation, and well insulated windows and doors.
An energy-efficient home is very airtight, so needs ventilation to allow fresh air in and moisture out – you can opt for a ventilation system which reuses heat from escaping air to warm your home. Speak to your self-build architect about the best ways to insulate before proceeding with the build.
Around a fifth of the heat lost from an average home escapes through the windows. Double glazing is more effective if the gap between the panes is filled with argon, xenon or krypton rather than air, as these gases are denser than air (it’s the gap that actually keeps the heat in, not the extra pane of glass).
Triple glazing isn’t really worth the extra money – the savings are minimal compared with high-quality double glazing, plus the extra glass can actually reduce the amount of sunlight coming in, as well as putting extra weight on your walls. Go for windows with a high energy efficiency rating – A, A+ or even A++.
Rooms that you want to be warm, like living rooms and kitchens, should ideally be on the south side of the building so they get the sun, with rooms you want to be cooler, like bedrooms and pantries, on the north side.
Heating and water heating
If you want to reduce your carbon footprint, look into using methods of heating your home and your water that aren’t based on fossil fuels, such as solar panels and heat pumps. Solar panels are expensive to install, but after that, all the electricity you get from them is free and unpolluting – and they work whenever there’s daylight, so they will supply you with some electricity all year round. Solar panels that generate electricity are called photovoltaic panels; you can also get panels which heat your water, called solar thermal panels.
Energy-saving lightbulbs are now commonplace, and typically use 60 to 80% less energy than traditional lightbulbs. LED lightbulbs are even more efficient, using up to 90% less energy than traditional bulbs. They also last longer than compact fluorescent lamps, don’t contain mercury, which compact fluorescent lamps do, and are instantly bright when you switch them on. Check reviews on a site such as Which? to make sure you are getting a good quality product, as at the moment the LED lightbulb market is self-regulated.
Architects in Kent
With thirteen years' experience of working on self builds, extensions, renovations and redesigns, south east London architects Bluelime Home Design are the perfect people to help you build a sustainable home. We have offices in Dartford, Bromley, Erith, Bexley and Croydon - call us at our head office on 01322 517632 for an informal chat about how we can help.