Renovating Your Green Home

Posted on 28th January, 2010

FIRST STEPS:

Rising energy prices and the slowdown in house sales have caused many to re-think their priorities. I have noticed a big rise in the number of people looking to improve their house instead of building a new one, and high on the list of discussion subjects is the question “What is the best way to reduce my heating bills?” No surprises there then!

ENVIRONMENT:                

Some statistics are in order at this stage: Nationally (for the UK), domestic housing emits about the same amount of CO2 as road transport. Factor in the amount of emissions caused to manufacture the materials used to build the houses and we see that our homes are a source of more than half of the total CO2 emissions. ‘Space heating’ is a term used to describe a system that heats (or cools) the spaces in a building, but when you think that about 53% of CO2 emissions from homes are due to space heating systems, the term might also be considered as ‘heating space’ i.e. in the cosmological sense!

SOLUTIONS:                      

There is no single way to achieve energy efficiency, but preventing heat loss should always come before considering alternative energy sources. Just as some people have found a new diet that works for them, every house has a solution which gives the best improvement in performance for your money. Your house needs to be examined in detail to discover what needs to be done.

INITIAL APPROACH:        

Professional advice at the start can save time and money – OK I know I’m biased here - but I’m also right! Good advice will specify exactly what work is needed and what it will cost; and will not follow trends blindly or encourage you to buy new technology without first balancing the environmental benefits.

This first survey or examination can be as simple or as complex as you wish to make it – but I try to follow the old ‘KISS’ rule.

After assessing structural stability and weatherproofing, the two main points to address are:

  1. Insulation – What if any, insulation exists? Add to it or replace it and bear in mind that building regulations are a basic standard and not the optimum specification. Think ‘outside the box’ if necessary.
  2. Air Permeability – How badly does your house leak air? (Tests can be carried out if required.) Leaky points are not always obvious, and although some ventilation is required, it should be ‘controlled’ ventilation. Fix the unwanted leaks and consider if you really need that open fireplace!

This touches briefly on one aspect of eco-building. If your interests are in new build, good thermal performance is much easier to obtain.

I will discuss methods of achieving higher energy efficiency in future articles.

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Comments (1)

now that's what i call good clear information!
how can you find out how much air is leaking out of your house?
also - how do i know how much heat im losing?
thks
(i like this website)