HOW TO CREATE A GREENER HOME
We are all looking at ways to create a greener lifestyle, little everyday changes we can make to reduce our carbon footprint and help our environment. This also extends to our homes.
“There is no doubt that with recent events and publicity around the world that the need for sustainable living is now upon us,” says Egg Jay-Murray Patel, Property Valuer at Coulters. “It’s never been more important.”
“Soon there will be some legal requirements but, for the time being, there is a very strong need for personal responsibility when it comes to all things sustainable.”
One way to find out how green a home may be is via an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) which forms part of a Home Report. “These reports dictate how energy efficient a specific property is, ranging from an A rating to a G,” says Jay. “In short, if the report determines that the property is on the higher end of the scale then this will require less resources to heat and keep warm, therefore cutting down on unnecessary usage.”
Whilst an energy efficient home doesn’t lead to a higher property value, Jay has seen a spike in home owners making their homes as green as possible. This, in turn, can lead to more demand, increased competition and therefore a higher sale price.
She explains: “There is definitely more focus on personal responsibility to get this rating to as high a point as possible (with the use of loft and wall insulation for example) rather than being motivated due to any monetary difference at the point of sale. However, these green upgrades and a good EPC rating is attractive to buyers and can increase competition.”
It’s safe to say, creating a greener home has never been more important. Solar panels, energy efficient boilers, low carbon heating…the list of ways to achieve this is endless. And often expensive. However there are ways to live greener for much less.
Here we reveal five easy ways to make our homes greener, in an article kindly sponsored by the award-winning Coulters.
THE PERFECT TEMPERATURE
With winter fast approaching, it won’t be long until we start cranking the thermostat up. After all, there’s nothing nicer than a cosy home on a cold day or evening. But, if we want to make our homes green then the experts say it’s time to pay attention to energy use to make sure our carbon footprint is as small as it can be.
According to the Committee on Climate Change, 19% of the UK’s carbon emissions come from heating our homes and workplaces. So, what can we do? Well, apparently we should look to keep the temperature in our homes to around 18C. Not only will this will be enough to keep us warm, as well as using less fossil fuels it will also cut heating bills. In fact, dropping just 1 degree can save up to £90 a year according to Scottish Power, which is also the first integrated energy company in the UK to generate 100% green electricity.
If 18C feels too cool, then consider 19-20C for living rooms, and 16-18C for hallways, kitchens and bedrooms – not every room in the home needs to be the same temperature. Further little changes such as keeping doors closed to maintain ambient temperature, and regulating radiator valves to allow temperature control of individual rooms, will help.
Coulters Tip: Not using a room at home? The team at Coulters always turn that radiator valve right down to conserve energy.
So you know the perfect temperature to stay green (and warm!) but it’s also important to only use energy when you need to. Make sure you adjust heating controls to save energy or invest in smart heating controls such as Nest which allow home owners to create a heating schedule aligned with when the family are in.
Coulters Tip: Smart technology in homes is always attractive to buyers. Whilst it won’t increase the value of your home, little extras like this can increase appeal with a generation of eco-conscious buyers.
You can also help make your home as heat efficient as possible, and maintain that 18C sweet spot, by draught-proofing your home.
According to Edinburgh World Heritage: “A traditional flat loses around 20% of its heat through draughty doors, windows and uncontrolled ventilation gaps, such as chimney flues.”
Draughts can be found around windows and doors, loft hatches, between floorboards and even pipework and electrical fittings. With original sash and cash windows featuring heavily in Edinburgh’s period properties, fixing these is a top priority for a greener home.
“Sash window draught proofing is a series of draught seals that are installed inside the sash window to improve the overall insulation performance of your sash windows and is a very effective tool against heat loss, much in the same way as loft insulation and cavity wall insulation,” explain Edinburgh-based Viewforth Glazing. “The payback is real and genuine and will considerably reduce our carbon footprint as well as being a brilliant alternative to UPVC or timber replacement.”
Feeling handy? You can, of course, do it yourself with weather-stripping products such as Gap Seal which also offer specialist products for draughty floor boards. DIY stores will also have products for preventing heat escapes through your letterboxes and keyholes, too. Then, there are our chimneys.
Edinburgh World Heritage state: “An open fire loses 80% of the heat up the chimney: if not in use, be sure the flue is closed and glass doors (which require LBC) are in place to minimise heat loss, always ensuring it is well ventilated. Consider a chimney pillow/balloon, an inflatable bag made from a special laminate that makes it airtight and which will shrivel up if heated by accident.”
But don’t go draught-proofing every room in the house. Bathrooms and kitchens should not be draught-proofed unless ventilation is available through a window or ventilator. And remember, traditional buildings were designed to let air circulate between the outside and inside. Sealing your period home up too radically, could lead to problems with damp or mould.
Coulters Tip: The team at Coulters loves these cosy chic door draught excluders from the White Company. Perfectly stylish for winter and easily stored away on warmer days.
LIGHTEN THE LOAD
It’s time to wash less…our clothes, that is! Responsible laundry is a thing and we can all do our part. In an ideal world we’d all be investing in higher efficiency washing machines which use up to 60% less water and as little as 50% energy, but there’s smaller (and cheaper) changes we can all make too.
Spot cleaning or 15-minute washes all help reduce our carbon footprint in the home. So think twice whether that once-worn top or the kids’ PE kit really needs an hour wash. And when we do put the washing machine on, reduce the temperature where possible too.
Erin Rhoads of Waste Not Everyday (Hardie Grant Books, £10) agrees and points out that “the majority of the environmental burden caused by fashion happens after we take the clothing home: 82% of the energy a garment will use is in the washing and drying we do each week.”
Laundry detergents and softeners can help create a greener home – and laundry load – too. Many products contain sodium laurel sulphate as well as artificial fragrances, usually derived from petrochemicals, which act as toxins once flushed away damaging the waterways and eco system.
Good Housekeeping recently revealed their Best eco-friendly laundry detergents 2021 (goodhousekeeping.com)which has done all the research and hard work for us. Top buy was Ecover Concentrated Laundry Detergent.
Coulters Tip: The team at Coulters are all about responsible laundry and always wash on a 30 degree cycle. Even stubborn stained clothing can have a cooler wash by pre-soaking in some hot water and laundry detergent. Then, squeeze out excess water before rubbing some laundry detergent onto stained areas then washing as normal.
Apparently we can be green as we clean ourselves by switching up our shower heads. Yes, really! Aerated shower heads work to reduce water consumption by up to 50% by blending water with air to create larger droplets of water. It creates the impression and feeling of there being more water than there really is.
And it will result in cheaper bills too. “A water-efficient shower head could save a four-person household £70 a year on gas for water heating, and a further £115 on water bills if they have a meter,” Brian Horne at the Energy Saving Trust has been quoted saying.
These shower heads looks pretty slick too, so no compromising on style.
Coulters Tip: Replacing your shower head, or shower, can add appeal to buyers especially if your existing shower is outdated looking. If you’re thinking of moving in the future, you can enjoy the green benefits of a new aerated shower now and know it was a good investment. Costs for aerated shower heads are inexpensive too and a nice USP for your bathroom.
Huge thanks to Coulters for sponsoring this article. Coulters are EGG card partner offering card holders £500 off and non card holders £250 off conveyancing when you sell with them. To arrange a valuation just call 0131-603-7333!
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