Photo of solar panels in a blue sky with fluffy white clouds, perfect for an eco home
Eco Homes rely on renewable energy sources like these solar panels.
(Photo by Pixabay: https://www.pexels.com/photo/blue-solar-panel-board-356036/)

There is a lot going on in politics and the wider world regarding carbon emissions, with corporations and individuals making the effort to reduce the impact that they are having on the environment.

Of course, we can cut out unnecessary car journeys or stop travelling via air, but have you thought about the impact on the environment that your home has?

Domestic emissions account for up to 16% of the UK’s carbon footprint.

The average three-bedroomed house in the UK produces 2.7 tonnes of CO2 in a year. In fact, when it comes to protecting the environment, residential emissions are the only type of emissions that have not fallen since 2014.

With this in mind, savvy homeowners are making the decision to move towards having a ‘greener’ home – and in this article, we are going to discuss what that looks like.

Must-Haves for an Eco Home

In an ideal world, we would all be able to build our own homes, to our own specifications – that is why shows like Grand Designs remain so popular, and why locations like Graven Hill in Bicester, where the majority of properties are self-build, are a draw for homebuyers.

If you are designing and building your own property, you can implement eco-friendly options from the very beginning – choosing local suppliers, to reduce carbon emissions from travelling.

Other must-haves for an eco-home include:

  • Passive Design – a sustainable framework that uses both the natural climate and landscape as part of the design process. This might include having large, south facing windows to maximise heat and light, even in the winter. You may also want to consider planting, like a tree to block out the worst of the sun in the summer, but that drops leaves in the winter to allow more light in.
  • Underfloor heating – no unsightly radiator panels and a heat exchange system that is perfect for a more efficient, eco-friendly central heating system.
  • Heat Pumps – Passive collection of heat, compressed by electricity, then used to heat the home. More on this later.
  • Insulation and (at least) double glazing – heat loss through walls, the ceiling, and the windows can make heating less effective, so top notch insulation should be a no-brainer.
  • Recycled materials – saving building materials and even furniture from landfill is much more ecologically aware and may also be cheaper.
  • Smart Controls – adding things like smart thermostats and lighting controls, that can be adjusted with your voice or through your smartphone helps to save energy – avoiding heating an empty home, making sure that the lights are off when you are not in the room, and even controlling the temperature or brightness according to your personal specifications.

Retrofitting Options

If a self-build isn’t on the cards, maybe you might want to consider upgrading your current home.

Retrofitting ecologically friendly technology into your home might mean some initial outlay, but it makes sense in several ways.

Firstly, reducing your carbon footprint. Adding all the below changes could save as much as 5.17 tonnes of CO2 a year.

Then there is the cost savings option. With all these additions, you could be looking at as much as a £2000 saving on your energy bills each year.

Lastly, there is resale value. Studies have shown that houses with established eco-friendly technology have an increased value – up to 14%.

While completing all the upgrades listed below might cost around £35,000 – which is a rather large investment – there are several schemes that can help, like the Boiler Upgrade Scheme as well as grants for installing solar panels.

Let’s check out some of the changes you might consider making to your home.

Roof Insulation

Did you know that 25% of the heat lost from your home goes through the roof? Loft insulation is one of the cheaper ways to improve efficiency and reduce your heating bills, coming out at an average price of less than £1k for a typical three-bed family home.

Cavity Wall Insulation

In most houses built within the last century, cavity walls (two walls with a void in between) have been the norm for construction, so chances are that you have this. Cavity walls are an easy insulation fix, although it can take some time and cost a little bit more.

A typical three-bedroom home will cost anywhere between £2.5k and £3k for an expert to come and fill the cavity with heat retaining material – but this will prevent you from losing up to 35% of the heat from your home.

Insulating your home in this way can reduce your heating bills by as much as 60% or even more.

Solar Panels

Solar panels are an obvious choice, especially if your house is positioned in such a way that you can make the most of available sunlight. Solar panels can cost as much as £8,000, but there are grants available to help you.

In a typical three bed house, this could reduce bills by up to 64% and it can be used to power appliances, like your Electric Vehicle charger and your underfloor heating.

Heat Pump

The government are looking to stop supporting fossil fuel-based heating systems in houses, starting with new builds – which means that if you are considering updating your boiler you might want to think about installing a heat pump. These can be expensive to get installed, especially those that are ground sourced, but they are at least three times more efficient than a gas boiler.

Air Source Heat Pump
An air source heat pump is a central heating system that is energy efficient and great for an eco home

While the costs of this are high, up to £35,000 or more, you can offset some of this with the Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS), with a grant from the government.

Other alternative central heating systems can include air source heat pumps, solar hot water heaters, biomass boilers, and even electric boilers.

Solar Battery

To make the most out of your solar panels, you should consider installing a solar battery to store the collected energy created from your panels.

This can cost around £4,500, but it will allow you to use up to 80% of the electricity you produce as opposed to the 50% that you would get access to without the battery. While the cost savings might be negligible, solar batteries further reduce your carbon footprint and your reliance on the National Grid.

EV Charger

If you own an electric vehicle, you need to install a charger in your home. These cost around £1,000 (but there are many grants and special offers available that can help you reduce the cost). If you can power it by solar, for example, it’s really a no brainer – especially if you consider that it will cost about 43% less to charge from your home.

Smart Thermostat

This might be the easiest way to make cost and energy savings in your home. It is also the cheapest change – costing around £225 for a typical three-bedroom home.

Smart thermostats are connected to your home Wi-Fi system, so you can switch it on and off, turn the heating up or down, and adjust for each room – all using your smartphone or your voice assistant. These smart thermostats are already in about 1.7 million homes in the UK, saving on average around 14% in heating bills.

Benefits of an Eco Home

There are several different benefits that upgrading using eco-friendly technology, including:

  • Cut energy bills by around 76%
  • Raise your property’s EPC rating
  • Less dependent on the gas and electric grid
  • Increase the value of your home by around 14%
  • Shrinks your carbon footprint

The team at GMS are happy to help you discover more about how you can upgrade your home to be more efficient, more effective, and more ecologically friendly – contact us to find out more.