Living in an eco-home has a lot of advantages, and building your own gives you complete control, along with the peace of mind that it’s eco from the ground up. Building an eco-home from scratch can sometimes seem like a bit of a minefield. It can be hard to know where to start and what materials will be the best for your home.
For those building a new extension, you should also think about green options – a large extension can quickly increase your energy bills if you do not think about green alternatives. Here are some things to consider before you embark on such a big project.
Using alternative energy sources might seem like a large undertaking, but it’s actually becoming more and more common for private homes to do this. It reduces your reliance on the national grid and no eco-home would be complete without at least one or two of their own energy sources.
Designing your own home from scratch gives you the chance to tailor it for energy efficient initiatives instead of having them as an afterthought, for example solar panels can be built discreetly into the roof instead of bolted on after. You can also consider a wind power system depending on the location of your new home.
Other systems use the sun to heat and pre-heat water, such as geothermal and solar water heaters. Always remember to check the land and space requirements before you commit to an energy system though, to make sure it’s both effective and legal. Geothermal energy is one of the most reliable forms of green energy, as it does not rely on the weather. There are a growing number of ground source heat pump suppliers who will assess your property, design a solution and install. Always ensure that your green energy consultant is working closely with your architect.
Other things such as smart window placement that allows ventilation throughout the house saves on the need for air con in the summer, which in turn means using less energy. South-facing windows make the most of the suns warmth, while skylights make the most of daylight and mean you use less electricity in interior rooms.
You can also consider recycling rainwater and put those rainy days to good use. Invest in some rain barrels to catch water running off your roof, and then direct this water to your lawn or garden. You could also install a grey-water system that reuses sink and shower water in the same way or consider fitting a low-flush toilet.
Get Best Quality Insulation
There is little point in investing in green energy if most of the heat is lost through poorly insulated walls, floors and ceilings. Building regulations set a minimum level of insulation – you are allowed to exceed it! Use top quality insulation board, such as Celutex or Kingspan, and consider creating thicker than normal walls and ceilings for improved insulation.
Think Outside The Box
When it comes to the interiors of your home, you can really get creative with your recycling. Consider glass bottles to build amazingly unique windows – watch YouTube videos to get some ideas. For exterior ones though, it’s best to consult a professional to make sure your windows can survive the elements and won’t cause a draft.
You can also scout flea markets for items to upcycle – the art of taking something old and giving it a new lease of life. Chairs, sofas and wooden tables are all perfect for this and allow you to give your new home instant personality.
Think about the materials you will be using. Try to always use recycled ones wherever possible and opt for those that last a long time when you’re choosing your materials.
This will reduce the waste that goes into landfills and also means less need for replacement in the years to come. You should also make sure that you’re using toxin free materials, including LOW-VOC paints and formaldehyde-free particleboard.
Even If You Can’t Rebuild An Eco-home… You Can Go Green
Building a whole new eco-home isn’t an option for everyone, but you can still make changes around your home to make it more eco-friendly. The first step is to get an accurate energy calculation that helps you to access your current energy usage. You can search online to find sites that allow you to put in the details of your home and energy usage. They then produce a graph to show your house’s potential savings and how you can make small changes to achieve this.
These changes can be things such as ridding your home of energy drainers. Many electronic appliances still draw energy even when they are switched off, however going around your home and unplugging every single device is a bit of a chore. Plugging several appliances into one power strip is a quick solution, helping you to save energy with the flick of a switch.
Bigger changes, like swapping energy guzzling air conditioning for ceiling fans, will have a big effect, but even smaller ones like composting kitchen scraps can contribute to a greener, more ecofriendly home. So there’s no excuse not to go a little greener!
Whether you are looking to build a green extension or a whole new eco-home, do keep reading up on the latest technologies and energy solutions.