Sustainable houses also tend to be cheaper to run and better for your health.
Read on for tips to improve your house sustainability whether renovating or not.
What is a sustainable house?
There are 3 main factors which define a house as sustainable. Energy consumed, how long the house will last and its size.
There are 3 types of home, standard, passivhaus, and zero carbon principals house. A standard house uses a lot of energy. A passivhaus will significantly decrease your energy consumption, by improving its heating efficiency and minimizing the need for heating and cooling. Zero carbon houses are designed to minimise energy use and produce any additional energy need.
The average lifespan of a house is 70-80 years. A sustainable house will take into account the materials used and their life span. It should last more than a 100 years.
While impossible to leave no impact, house construction can be mindful and reduce its impact as much as possible.
Size matters. The larger a house the more materials and potential energy will be used. Every additional room will use more energy both in construction and everyday use. The design is important to ensure what’s built is what’s needed. It will also need to be easily adaptable for future occupants.
How can you improve your house’s sustainability?
If you can’t build a sustainable house, can your current house be sustainable? One of the main factors to consider will be energy consumption. While adapting an older house will never be the same as building from scratch. You can make significant improvements to your current house.
Easy ways to reduce energy use and improve energy efficiency are:
- Insulating as much as possible, lofts, walls, floors etc
- Upgrading old windows and doors
- Upgrading old water and heating systems to newer more efficient models
You can also produce your own renewable energy at home:
- Solar panels
- Wind turbines
- Geothermal heat pumps
- Solar water heaters
- Microhydro power systems
Other ways to improve house sustainability
Here are a few other suggested improvements to make your current home more sustainable improve energy efficiency and even start to impact indoor air pollution.
- Install an irrigation drip system
- Reuse waste water with a grey water collection system
- Get a rain barrel to save the water runoff from your roof
- Install a cool roof
- Reuse and recycle any construction waste
- Install a smart meter
- Use eco products such as eco paint where possible
- Don’t buy new and reuse where possible
- Sustainable source any building materials
- Get an energy audit
Everyday changes around the house.
If you are not renovating or building you can still make changes. Here are some tips for eco friendly everyday changes you can make around your house to reduce your consumption, energy bills and save money.
Think about what uses the most energy in your house? According to Direct Energy most energy goes to heating and air conditioning.
- Heating and air conditioning 46%
- Water heating 14%
- Appliances 13%
- Lighting 9%
- TV & media equipment 4%
So how can you reduce your energy usage?
Heating and Air conditioning
- Use fans instead of AC, they use significantly less energy
- Turn your thermostat down a couple of degrees in winter
- Use curtains to either let the sun in to warm or keep it out to cool
- Service your AC and heater annually
- Replace your filters
- Block up any holes or gaps
- Insulate your roof
- Take slightly cooler and shorter showers. 10ºF reduction can save 3% on your bill
- Insulate your water heater and hot water pipes
- Install water saving shower heads and faucet aerators
- Upgrade to a solar water heater
- Don’t over fill your refrigerator
- Clean under and behind your refrigerator to maintain air flow
- Wash your clothes on the lowest temperature possible
- Wash full loads of clothes
- Use drying racks instead of dryers
- Use smaller cooking appliances over the oven, slow cooker, microwave etc
- Wash full loads in your dishwasher
- Turn off lights when you are not using them
- Don’t overlight your room
- Install dimmers
- Put lights on timers
- Dust your bulbs
- Use led bulbs
- Use motion detectors for outdoor lights
TV & Media Equipment
- Always turn off electronics when not in use
- Turn down brightness on screens
- Don’t use the standby
- Switch your TV to energy saving mode
- Choose smaller screens for TV’s and monitors
- If listening to the radio on your TV ensure the screen is blank
- Laptops are more energy efficient than desktops
- Ensure you switch to sleep or hibernate mode
We hope that some of these tips have been useful to you and will help you save energy and lower your carbon footprint. As always, different locations will have different rules and regulations. Please check your local requirements before starting any work.
If you would like to know more about sustainable living click here
If you are interested in food waste see my review of Anna Jones’ One Pot Pan Planet