There are plenty of examples of ‘eco-homes’, built with energy efficiency in mind and incorporating a medley of integral features and forward-thinking use of modern technology. This can put some people off trying to recreate this in their own homes, with many believing that retrofitting any of the energy-efficient features of these futuristic homes is expensive and requires huge renovations. In fact, there are many small measures that can be taken that will reduce energy output (and expenditure) without costing too much time, effort or upheaval.
Something as simple as replacing conventional light bulbs with 20watt bulbs can save £60 (or just under $98 US) per bulb over its lifetime compared to a standard 100watt bulb. Turning down the central heating by 1.8°F could cut your heating bills by up to 10%.
More responsive heating controls will help to keep your home at a comfortable temperature without wasting fuel or heat, thus reducing carbon dioxide emissions and heating bills. Whatever age your boiler, the right controls will allow you to adjust your heating and hot water so that they switch on and off when you need them to, heat only the areas you want and even set individually the temperature of each area. Programmable, zonal heating controls will maximize this effect. The addition of low flow showerheads can also significantly cut hot water bills. In a typical household, the majority of the money spent on fuel bills goes towards providing heating and hot water.
Making a home more energy efficient doesn’t mean compromising levels of comfort and luxury. Underfloor heating provides efficient and responsive heat wherever it’s needed. It works well with renewable energy sources such as ground source heat pumps and solar panels. The lower temperatures associated with this type of heat source actually provide optimum efficiency, as underfloor heating systems run at lower temperatures when heating the air of a room to the same level as traditional radiators. Additionally, in order to maintain performance levels, a heating system’s water temperature needs to increase as the size or surface area of the emitter decreases. This makes underfloor heating the better option, where the entire floor surface of a room effectively acts as the emitter.
Other ‘easy wins’ for an energy efficient home include installing closable louvres on any extractor fans, blocking unused chimneys with specially designed removable balloons and stopping the gaps between floorboards with wood glue. Crawl spaces, stud walls and floors can often be overlooked when insulating attic spaces, which can lead to unnecessary heat loss. They can be cheaply insulated with bio insulation such as sheepswool or mineral wool. These are all simple, quick and cheap solutions and will help reduce heat escaping and save on heating costs.
Installing double, or even triple glazing is a very effective method of preventing heat from escaping. However, this is not always a viable option, with some homes covered by planning and conservation regulations and the expense of installation putting some people off. There are alternatives that can be equally as effective; a recent study by Glasgow Caledonian University, in Scotland, tested different coverings for traditional windows and concluded that insulated shutters can actually outperform double glazing for heat-loss reduction. External cladding is also an extremely effective form of cost reduction; bonded polystyrene blocks on external walls will minimize heat loss.
There are countless other measures that can help towards ensuring your home is as energy efficient as it can be, most of which are about changing behavior. Make use of your washing line instead of expensive and in-efficient tumble-dryers, select a lower temperature when running your washing machine and close curtains at dusk to help retain heat. All this and more will help you to turn your house into a modern, efficient and forward-thinking eco-home without an architect in sight.
Underfloor Heating store supply and install electric underfloor heating and water underfloor heating systems across the United Kingdom. They offer a lifetime guarantee for all cables and mats and the peace of mind that they install only market leading, fully approved systems.
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