I’ve been looking for some ideas on how to make the transition to an entirely sustainable home. It’s a dream of mine that I hope will happen one day. There is a lot to do before I get anywhere close to complete sustainability! It is, however, very doable, and over time it’s possible for most households to make the switch to an energy efficient home. Here are some of the things you will need to create a sustainable household.
It goes without saying that any major renovations to your home are going to cost a lot of money. Of course, most of us understand that it is an investment that will pay off in the end. Over the years, your heating and electricity bills will be so much lower that you will end up saving plenty more cash than you spent. It’s that initial investment that is the tricky part – and it’s out of reach for most people. So, do what you can, when you can. Save a little money for a year or so and see where you are. Once you have a budget in mind, you can start work, pay for it, and then begin saving again.
Time will also play an enormous factor. If you have to gut your whole house, the process can take months, or even years! Having a robust plan in place will help, but be prepared to move out of your home for some time if you want the work completed as quickly as possible. If you aren’t paying for everything in one hit, it can take years to achieve your dream. By attacking each little area one at a time, you will soon begin to make serious progress.
You will also have to rely on a lot of different people when you start on the road to home sustainability. Builders, architects, rubbish removal services – the list is endless. You may also have to rely on friends and family members, too. You may need somewhere to stay for a few months. There’s a lot to think about – and you have to have a plan in place for any situation that might arise.
I wanted to separate this point because it’s important. It’s likely that you will choose a building firm from your local area, but what about the materials? We’re talking about sustainability here, and a big part of that is making sure that you source everything you can as close to home as possible. So, ask around and find a supplier of high-quality materials that you can use. A lot of people are beginning to understand that you shouldn’t buy a pear from South America if you can find one in your back garden, but, when it comes to building materials, they often don’t consider the carbon cost.
OK, that’s the basics out of the way. Now let’s take a look at some of the areas of the home that you should look at first. Let’s start in your attic space – as this is where the majority of heat loss occurs. Ensure that you have excellent attic insulation, using natural or recycled materials. You may be eligible for a grant from your council or the government, so it’s worth checking. You can also insulate your cavity walls for added heat-trapping. It can be an expensive process, but it will save you money in the long-run.
Windows and doors
If you want to save energy in the home, make sure that your windows and doors are up to scratch. Double glazing can conserve your heat, but the main thing is to ensure there are no drafts coming through. Even sash windows can be improved by having seals applied, and will keep warm air in and cold air out. Look at your doors, too. If you can get a new, modern door in place, they are far more efficient at keeping the cold out than older doors. You could also think about hanging heavy curtains in front of them, to give you an extra layer of protection. Don’t underestimate the power of the simple draft blocker.
Now that you have sealed your whole house; you can start thinking about different energy solutions. Solar panels are the obvious starting point, as they can make powering your home dirt cheap. They are expensive to install, but the technology behind modern solar energy means you could make your money back within five years. You can also look at the way you heat your home. Underfloor heating, for example, is far more efficient than standard radiators. Again, it can be pricey to install, but you will make your money back quickly.
Of course, one of the biggest impacts we can have on our energy use is being aware of our consumption levels. I recommend getting an energy monitor so that you can see what you use with your own eyes. I must say, watching the money burning up in front of your eyes when you turn on the washing machine is an interesting experience! That’s the problem, I guess, because we don’t see the cost when we turn on a light and leave it on all day, but, with a monitor, you will notice every last penny.
Finally, make sure that you have regular maintenance on your heating systems and, any other equipment that uses energy. If it doesn’t work properly, it will use up more power than it should. That’s not only bad for the environment; it’s also bad for your wallet.