Home Energy Efficiency – Why does it matter?
As the UK looks towards recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 crisis many people, businesses and organisations are calling for a green recovery. Hence, a new start and a way of planning for a better future. Not to mention that you may have noticed higher heating bills as we spend more time indoors and working from home.
Energy-efficiency is the buzz-phrase for our times, and the goal for modern homes. Fortunately, there are ways to waste less energy, save yourself some money and help care for the planet, all starting from the correct design of your home!
If you feel you could use some help to improve your home energy efficiency in Hull & East Riding of Yorkshire, our architects have put together a list of tips and ideas. We can help you with mindful house design and energy-efficient refurbishment work. You can contact us here.
Before we get into the details, it is worth answering this question:
What is home energy efficiency?
In simple terms, energy-efficiency means doing more with less. Our homes aren’t hermetically sealed, and when they are not properly isolated we use more energy to keep us warm during winter and cool in the summer.
That is why before you design a new home or remodel an existing one, it is fundamental to consider investing in energy efficiency. You will save energy and money, and your home will be more comfortable, durable and valuable. You may also want to explore your options for financing an energy-efficient home.
So here we go – the 5 best ways to make your home energy efficient!
1. Insulate your roof
Let’s start at the top. Your house loses most heat through its roof… so just as it is sensible to pop on a warm, woolly hat when it’s cold, it’s a great idea to insulate your loft.
Applying a layer of roof insulation could cost very little, considering you will save more money than you think on bills. After a couple of years, you can reap the rewards of your investment, saving yourself an unnecessary expense, and the planet hundreds of kilograms of carbon annually!
2. Insulate your walls
Around one-third of the heat loss from most homes is through the walls. Whether you live in a 1-bedroom flat or a large detached house, you’ll likely recover the installation costs in 5 years or less. The yearly energy bill savings you’ll make by having a properly insulated home is food for thought.
The first thing you need to find out is what sort of walls you have. If you can see the brickwork on the outside of the house, look at the pattern of the bricks.
- Cavity wall: If your home has cavity walls, the bricks will usually have an even pattern with all the bricks laid lengthways.
- Solid wall: the bricks will have an alternating pattern, with some bricks laid across the wall so you can see the smaller ends from the outside.
If the brickwork has been covered, you can also tell by measuring the width of the wall. You can examine a window or door on one of your external walls:
- if a brick wall is more than 260mm thick then it probably has a cavity
- a narrower wall is probably solid. Stone walls may be thicker still but are usually solid
These are tips to give you an initial idea: please note that some houses have a different type of wall structure altogether, and we advise you to ask a specialist insulation installer.
You can insulate many cavity walls by injecting insulation material into the cavity from the outside. Solid walls can be insulated too, and while it can be a more expensive undertaking (depending on whether you choose internal or external wall insulation), it’s worth remembering that the savings on your heating bills will also be bigger.
Think of it as a coat you put on your home!
3. Energy-efficient glazing
Energy-efficient glazing are windows made of two or three glass panes sealed in a single unit, surrounded by a frame made from uPVC, wood, or another material. Air or an inert gas such as argon fills the gaps between the glass panes.
The energy performance of a window depends on how well these materials stop:
- heat from escaping;
- how much sunlight travels through the glass;
- how little air can leak around the window.
It is not easy to choose a window by looking at how it’s made. Fortunately, window manufacturers show the energy efficiency of their products using an energy-rating scale from A++ to E, that indicates the overall impact of fitting that window in your home.
And that’s not to mention the increased levels of peace and quiet you’ll enjoy!
4. Upgrade your boiler
Heating accounts for about 55% of what you spend in a year on energy bills, so an efficient boiler makes a big difference.
It’s also worth considering whether you can improve your central heating system by making other adjustments to your heating. Think about heating controls and thermostats that will help your heating systems work more efficiently. Or heat recovery devices and systems that will capture energy lost through the flue and use it to heat the water.
It is worth getting three quotes from different installers to compare them. Your installer will ensure that your system complies with current building regulations and will give you all the documentation to prove this. Please remember to keep these documents safe as you will need them when you sell the property.
5. Install solar panels
Installing solar panels can seem expensive – but in the long run, it is one of the most effective things you can do to save energy at home. And it is actually much more affordable lately, with the price of solar panels being 70% cheaper today than in previous years.
How do solar panels work?
Solar electricity panels, also known as photovoltaics (PV), capture the sun’s energy and convert it into electricity that you can use in your home. Solar PV panels are made from photovoltaic cells made from layers of semi-conducting material, that is usually silicon grouped together in modules.
These modules usually grouped into solar arrays, in a variety of shapes and sizes; you can fit panels on top of your roof, but you can also install them on the ground, or fit solar tiles.
Now you are thinking: will the solar panels work on a cloudy day? The answer is… yes! The cells don’t need direct sunlight to work: however, the stronger the sunshine, the more electrons are knocked loose, the more electricity generated. An inverter is installed along with the system to convert the direct current (DC) generated by the solar panel, to alternating current (AC), the electricity you use for household appliances.
Larger solar systems can generate as much as 4kWp, enough to meet the energy needs of a family of 3 to 4! The ideal roof space will face South, out of the shade, and at a pitch angle of about 30 or 40 degrees. You should not need planning permission to install Solar Photovoltaic Panels but always check with your local authority before installing.
It is worth to mention that new support is available to help you pay for energy-efficient upgrades at home, in the form of the Green Homes Grant scheme, part of the UK government effort to reduce carbon emissions and help cut energy bills.
And if this is still confusing, or you want reassurance that you are in good hands, speak with an architect!
The right architect will consider the extent of works, structural implications, and turn problems and restraints into something inspiring and tailor-made for you.
A full-service architecture firm like Alessandro Caruso Architects can design your dream plans, help you find the right builders and project manage the work and assist you with interior design.
If you are planning to improve the efficiency of your home our expert architects and technicians can help.
And if you want to see some of our residential projects click here https://aca-i.com/projects/
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