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Building an environmentally friendly home

What is an Environmentally Friendly House?

An eco-friendly home, or an environmentally friendly home, is a property which has a reduced impact on the environment. The most successful eco-friendly homes simply use carefully selected environmentally friendly materials thus being environmentally sound, without comprising the comfort of their tenants or the design of the building.

What changes can we make whilst building that can make a real difference?

  1. One of the most environmentally damaging by-products of modern living is excessive Carbon Dioxide, the main gas responsible for climate change. To reduce Carbon Dioxide Emissions we must reduce energy use. Your architect will be able to advise on key ways to design your home and what materials to use to reduce energy use. One of the most effective ways will be to insulate your property well. This will mean less energy is being used to heat your property as it will retain heat better.
  2. Using wood or other biofuels from renewable sources to create heat will also reduce your environmental impact, as will using renewable energy sources such as solar panels.
  3. The way in which we heat our water uses a lot of energy unnecessarily. Instead of using artificial means to heat the ground water. There are now ways of using the constant ground temperature as a way to heat the water you use in your home.
  4. Conserve water. There are a number of changes we can make to our lifestyle and the ways in which we operate, to reduce our water consumption. Low flow commodes are another option.
  5. Maximise natural assets, such as natural light. Where this is not possible, use low energy options such as low energy lightbulbs.
  6. Energy-efficient appliances.

What simple steps can we take to make our homes and our lifestyles more environmentally friendly?

Even if we can’t make our homes completely eco-friendly, there are a number of steps we can take to help the environment in our homes, without re-insulating the entire property.

  1. Recycle materials such as paper (newspapers and magazines), plastics (bottles and plastic bags), aluminium (soft drinks cans), and glass (jars and wine bottles). Research shows that upto 80 per cent of household waste can be recycled.
  2. Monitor your water consumption. The amount of water used by each household is increasing. Make sure you are not using more water than you need by following simple rules. For example, avoid using your washing machine unless it is for a full load. This attitude can be adopted in every aspect of energy saving, not just water – for example, use a clothesline to dry clothes rather than a tumble dryer.
  3. Harvest rainwater. You cannot use this water to drink, but by investing in a water butt you will be the envy of your neighbours when your luscious green garden is benefiting from your collected rainwater during the summer hosepipe ban!
  4. Recycle biodegradable products by setting up a compost heap.

The Financial Cost of Green Living

When building a new property, there is very little increase in the initial building costs, if you choose to use eco-friendly materials and building methods in your home. However, you are likely to benefit from significant savings over the long term. For example, by reducing heating through better insulation, you will use less energy, therefore reducing your heating bill as well as your impact on the environment.

In addition to this it is likely to be advantageous in the long term to plan for changes in regulations now. Government regulations are likely to become more strict regarding the energy efficiency of new builds. We are already seeing an increase in the government interest in the environmental impact of our homes with the introduction of HIPs and the essential provision of an energy performance certificate. If you are building a new home it is sensible to plan for the future, and bear in mind that energy efficiency is likely to be a very marketable quality when you come to selling your property. For more information on government regulations http://www.netregs.gov.uk/

The Association for Environment Conscious Building also provide tips on how to make your home more environmentally friendly.