The government announced that part of The Energy Act 2011 includes provisions for a new ‘Green Deal’. This aims to reduce carbon emissions across the UK by revolutionising the energy efficiency of British properties.¯¨
This Green Deal plan aims to eliminate upfront household costs by taking energy efficient measures and the government reassures homeowners that the cost of implementing the plan will be covered by savings on their bills.
While we wait for the government to announce what is going to be provided in the Green Deal plan, we need to look at how renovations of our homes can be done in a way which takes into consideration environmental impacts.
There are a number of ways in which homes can be more economical; including insulation, installation of renewables and heating improvements. Here is more information on some of the short and long term solutions/savings.
Insulation should be first on the agenda when trying to eco proof your home, not only does insulation provide one of the most effective ways of saving energy, but is also a great way to save money in the long term.
Installing effective roof, floor and wall insulation can save homeowners up to £135 per year on utility bills. Insulating your home can cost in the reign of £100-350 making the return on investment large, and paying for itself in less than 3 years.
The better, more effective insulation will prevent heat from escaping through the walls, floors and ceilings, reducing the amount of energy needed to heat the home and in turn lowering C02 emissions; while at the same time allowing the house to breath.
Solar power has hit the world by storm with massive advances in technology, allowing this method of generating power to be much more available.
This energy source is renewable, meaning that it can be made over and over aging, without running out of the source.
Installing thermal solar panels to preheat domestic hot water can provide up to half the annual hot water requirements for the average family for a year.
Solar water heating panels are mounted on the roof, similar to that of normal solar panels. Once the water is heated, it travels to a storage tank where it is ready to use. This kind of system is widely used in Greece, Cyprus, Turkey and many more European countries; however it is becoming readily available in the UK.
One of the only problems with this type of system is that it only works to its full potential during the summer months of the year, therefore during winter people may have to use conventional methods of heating water.
Instillation costs ranges from £3,000 to £5,000, however once installed little maintenance and upkeep is required, although the system needs to be checked annually to ensure the controls and levels in the panel are still in full working order.
Heat pumps are revolutionary in the way in which they work; with the most common being an air-source heat pump. This method of cooling and heating works differently as instead of heating the room, it works like a refrigerator removing heat from a warm area and releasing it outside and likewise if the area inside is cold, it extracts heat from outside and distributes it inside.
Ground source heat pumps use pipes that are buried in the garden to extract heat from the ground. The extracted heat from the ground can then be used to heat radiators, underfloor heating, warm air heating systems and hot water in the home.
A ground source heating system circulates a mixture of water and antifreeze around a loop of pipes called a ground loop. Heat from the ground is absorbed into the fluid and then passed through a heat exchanger into the heat pump. The ground outside stays at a constant temperature under the surface, ensuring the heat pump can be used throughout the year including in the middle of winter. Installing a typical heat pump system costs around £9,000 – £17,000; making it a fairly expensive choice.
Biomass is aimed at those who do not have access to mains gas supply or do not rely on heating oil, lpg or electricity. Biomass is a fuel that is both kind to the planet and inexpensive.
Biomass uses agricultural, forest, urban and industrial residues to produce heat and electricity with less effect on the environment than fossil fuels. There are however drawbacks to this method of generating heat and electricity, as on a large scale the use of biomass takes agricultural land out of food production, subsequently reducing the amount of carbon dioxide produced by forests and also extracting nutrients from the soil. In addition there is a large proportion of carbon being emitted to the atmosphere that does not return to the soil for many decades.
Low Energy Lighting
Low energy light bulbs cost around £3 and can last up to 10 times longer than ordinary light bulbs. Fitting energy saving light bulbs throughout your home can save you as much as £55 per year, paying for themselves in no time at all. It is well worth making the change as this form of energy saving does not cost the earth and has little drawbacks.
Underfloor heating is becoming a must have in homes all over the UK. This form of heating has a number of benefits such as; lower running costs (10-30% cheaper than radiators), because the heat is distributed from a larger surface area so the water does not need to be heated to as high a temperature because it is not concentrated on one place in the room, but achieves the same output of heat.
One of the main downfalls with underfloor heating is that it can cost large amounts to have the system installed and it involves the full room being emptied.