Five Steps to a Greener Home
Having a 'green home' means it's energy efficient, warmer, drier, healthier and costs less to run. If you're keen on 'going green', read on for clever eco ideas that are simple to follow, save you money and are environmentally friendly too:
1. Insulation – the healthy choice!
Insulation is like putting a warm duvet around your house! It’s the key to staying warm indoors in winter and it’s a one off expense that gives ongoing savings in heating costs. Ceiling and underfloor insulation alone can reduce heat loss by over 50%. Now that's a big saving!
When recommending the best insulation for your home our consultants would look at the many factors involved from the construction of the house, your local climatic conditions, the home's aspect to the landscape to any existing insulation and heating your home already has.
Your choice of product will depend on your budget and the R-value (thermal resistance) recommended for your area. The higher the R-value the warmer the insulation. But it’s always best to speak to the insulation experts about your plans and designs.
Here are a few tips:
- The R-value is only a minimum, so by exceeding the recommendation for your area, you will create an even warmer home and save more on power bills.
- If you are building a framed house then an increase in the depth of the framing allows for more insulation. Wall insulation prevents damp and heat loss by creating a thick barrier to moisture.
- Installing insulation yourself can be hazardous due to the presence of electrical cabling. It’s best to call in your EnergySmart insulation experts for this job.
Am I eligible for insulation subsidies?
The good news for renovators is that if your house was built before 2000 then you may be eligible for government subsidies for insulation. Conditions apply. Check out about subsidies3. Hot Water Thermal Wraps - Save Money Now!
Many homes in New Zealand heat their water with electric hot water cylinders. New electric hot water cylinders are internally insulated to avoid heat loss but if your cylinder is older then you may be losing heat and money. It’s relatively inexpensive to have your cylinder thermally wrapped along with the first few metres of hot water pipe. They maintain the temperature of the hot water for longer and this economical solution can save you $90 a year in power!
Solar hot water heating is becoming more popular, more affordable to install and the sun doesn’t charge you a cent! It is often a good choice for homes in sunny areas and for families who use a lot of hot water. A back-up system is required for cloudy days though.
2. Weatherproof your Windows
Did you know that 25% of heat loss in your home occurs through the windows? The problem here is that glass has no insulating properties and heat will naturally move to a colder place. So your room heat literally flies out the window.
Having double-glazed windows retrofitted is a smart option. If your budget is tight you could double-glaze just one or two rooms, e.g. lounge and bedrooms but it is a step worth taking. Double-glazed windows lose half the amount of heat than single-glazed windows. They also significantly reduce noise and condensation, while the home has a more even temperature, and costs a lot less to heat.
Thermal Film is an economic thermal solution which is applied directly to the glass, is less than half the cost of double glazing and 95% as effective at reducing thermal transmission www.thermafilm.co.nz.
A more economical option is to have close-fitting thermal curtains installed. These insulate the windows and prevent heat loss. But did you know that not all thermal curtains are created equal? Thermal backing on curtains comes in different thicknesses. Have a shop around and buy the heaviest thermal curtains you can find. Make sure the drapes are snug against the wall and block vertical airflow and this can cut heat loss by up to 25%.
If you are serious about going green then you can recycle duvets or wool blankets by using them as curtain fillings and sewing them between the curtain and the thermal backing. This will create very thick and warm curtains that keep the warm air in and the cold air out!
Our assessors see a lot of vertical and wooden blinds in homes but a lot of heat is also lost through these types of window treatments. If you like the aesthetics of blinds then you could also put your curtains up in winter and take them down in summer so you don’t lose the ‘look’ of the blinds.
The king of eco windows though is Roman Blinds. They are much more efficient than curtains and many louvered blinds, because they sit very close to the glass and can reduce heat loss by up to 28%. Now that's impressive!
3. Stop Draughts and Save Energy!
Believe it or not those minor drafty areas in your house may be sucking out more warm air than you assume because warm air will always move towards colder air. Older homes move over time producing gaps around windows, doors, and in wooden floors.
- door excluders fixed around ill-fitting doors put a stop to cold drafts
- underfloor insulation will prevent damp and 10% of heat loss;
- you can seal drafty windows yourself by applying V strips around the edges of the glass;
- fit pelmets above windows to prevent cold air flowing over the curtains and into the room.
You’ve sealed the house from the cold, but to avoid condensation, make sure you regularly open windows and doors in order to ventilate the home. You could also consider a home ventilation system.
4. Natural Landscaping
When it comes to your garden the most eco option is to go native. Native plants will attract native birds, and they are ideally adapted to your local environment so won’t need a lot of watering or fertilizing. The only other job you need to do is weeding but by applying organic mulch you’ve solved that challenge too!
For further hints or advice book your free home assessment.