How to Achieve a Green Home

Today, we have never been more clued up about how our actions affect the world around us and because of this, more of us than ever before are looking at all the ways they can help the planet – such as by creating a green home.

But just how can a home improvement project benefit the environment?

There have really never been more options available to you if you want to go green and one of the best ways that you can reduce your carbon footprint is through building an ecological home. Programmes like Channel 4’s Grand Designs often feature people who do not only want to create their dream home, but who also want to build a structure that is sustainable and will benefit generations to come.

If you have the funds available and have always toyed with the idea of building your perfect house then this could be an option for you. By choosing to work with tradesmen who have been involved with similar projects then you can have the peace of mind of knowing that your vision is in safe hands – and they may even be able to offer you some tips you had not previously considered.

These can include advice on the most sustainable building materials to pick out. There are many options available for you here, including hempcrete, sandstone, packed earth, wool, rapid-growing wood like bamboo, recycled metal and reclaimed timber or bricks.

Your finished home will stand as a testament to your efforts and the possibilities of green living – and is likely to provide a shelter for many generations to come.

However, not all of us are in a position to construct our own house, but there are still plenty of ways to make an existing property more energy efficient and to reduce its carbon footprint.

On the market today there are several technologies that have been purposefully designed to reduce the amount of fossil fuel households are reliant on, thereby saving them money.

Among these are solar panels, which are able to collect the free and natural energy of the sun and convert it into usable electricity to heat water for the home. This allows you to reduce the amount of fossil fuels you consume, helping you to lower your energy bills as a result.

Similar fixtures include biomass boilers – which are powered by wood chips or pellets – wind turbines and air or ground source heat pumps, which are able to use warmth that is stored underground or in the atmosphere and use it for your house. All of these items can help you to lower the amount of carbon emissions you are responsible for and reduce your gas and electricity bills. Best of all, under the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive you could even make some extra cash.

Technology such as this can require planning permission before you go ahead with having it fitted and it can also be expensive – although it will soon start paying for itself through lower energy bills.

However, if you do not have the necessary funds available now, there is still plenty you can do on a tighter budget.

Chief among these options is to revamp your central heating system if it is powered by gas. A boiler is responsible for as much as 60 per cent of the carbon emissions produced by a gas-powered property, so it is worthwhile investing in a unit that is as energy efficient as possible.

A condensing gas boiler is one of the best alternatives available today as it is able to convert more of its fuel into usable heat for your home than its older counterparts. This can help you to save money and lower your carbon emissions – remember to hire a fully qualified tradesman who is on the Gas Safe Register to carry out the work for you though.

Another way to make your home greener is to improve its existing insulation. New loft, floor, solid or cavity wall insulation can make a real difference in reducing the amount of heat that is lost from a building’s exterior, as can double glazed windows.

Even taking the time to fill in any cracks in floors and walls, lay down a draught excluder, turn the thermostat down by one degree C, switch your appliances off at the wall or fix a leaking tap can see you helping the environment in some small way – and every little counts.

So if you are looking for a theme for your next home improvement project, why not make it a green one?

Brits Shown to Favor Green Home Improvements

Eco-friendly home improvements appear to be increasingly sought-after by Britons, it has been reported.

In research carried out by Legal & General as a part of its ongoing Changing Face of British Homes study, it was revealed that making greener changes to lifestyles is an evermore popular option for members of the public. The study showed that some 37 per cent of people have installed either draught-proofing or double glazing. Meanwhile, 25 per cent of respondents were shown to have fitted additional loft insulation.

For those consumers looking for an effective way to carry out eco-friendly improvements to their property, such as double-glazing and loft insulation, taking out a low-cost home loan may be useful.

The study also showed that just under three-quarters of Britons use low-energy light bulbs, with 23 per cent of respondents looking to recycle rain water. Making sure electrical appliances are not left on standby and making use of reusable shopping bags were also revealed to be popular eco-friendly lifestyle changes. Meanwhile, recycling rubbish was indicated as the most sought-after means in which people lead a greener lifestyle. Overall, 98 per cent of people claimed to be taking steps to improve their environmental efficiency.

However, it appears a significant number of Britons only want to make environmentally-friendly changes when it suits them, with more than half of those questioned said to be unhappy about being charged for waste removal services. An estimated 23 per cent are said to be irked at having to pay for plastic carrier bags at supermarkets and shops.

Commenting on the figures, Ruth Wilkins, head of communications for Legal & General’s general insurance business, said: “While people are annoyed by the implementation of green initiatives the efforts being made to force residents to recycle more of their rubbish are beginning to pay off, with recycling rates jumping from seven per cent to 33 per cent in the past ten years. Legal & General’s recent research would support these findings as the Changing Face of British Homes research shows that a large number of us are taking steps to become greener. Brits simply want to make their own decisions regarding how and when to be green.”

Ms Wilkins went on to report that it is important for those homeowners thinking about carrying out major improvements to their property which are of an environmentally-friendly nature “to check their insurance cover to make sure they are covered under the terms of their policy”.

For consumers wishing to renovate their house – and at the same time help take steps to save the environment – applying for a homeowner loan could be useful. In obtaining this kind of home loan it may be possible that the cost of installing eco-friendly improvements – such as cavity wall insulation, biomass heaters, draught proofing and solar heating panels – can be met quickly and affordably. Indeed borrowing for the purposes of financing home improvements could be rising in popularity after a recent Lloyds TSB study revealed a 19 per cent increase in loan applications for such purposes this month in comparison to August 2007.