A guide to the ultimate energy efficient home

One of the main forces driving innovation in modern building design is the need for homes to be energy efficient. Increasingly, homeowners demand properties that function on both aesthetic and environmentally friendly levels. Fortunately, it is possible for homes to simultaneously look beautiful whilst using energy wisely.

A modern eco-friendly home has efficient insulation that keeps the interior warm in winter and cool in summer. Drafts are a thing of the past in today’s house designs, as are huge heating and energy bills. Modern home designs use double glazed windows, which allow light to flood in and keep cold air out. Other eco-friendly behaviors we can adopt that reduce the carbon footprint in modern homes include low energy light bulbs, aerated faucets to lower water usage, using paints free of Volatile Organic Compounds and sourcing goods and furnishings fashioned from recycled and natural materials.

But what about those of us living in older homes? Can we make our traditional dwellings more energy efficient? The good news is, ‘yes, we can!’ For those considering a move to an older home and the typical issues that go with the territory, it is good to learn eco-friendly living is still attainable.  A historic, characterful home can be a joy to live in and if refurbishment is planned, it presents the perfect opportunity for making improvements to its eco-friendly rating.

Old houses are commonly criticized for their poor insulation and drafts, however it is possible to cure an old house of the cold. The choice of a period or historic home is frequently based on appearance, so it’s likely that any refurbishments will need to be in keeping with the taste and style of the architecture. Old, wooden framed sash windows are often found in older properties – and whilst undoubtedly good-looking, they are terrible draft magnets. A quick trip to the DIY store for some insulating strips to fill the gaps in the window frames will be time and money well spent.

One of the more attractive and sympathetic solutions to poor window insulation in older houses is fitted shutters. Not only do custom made interior wooden shutters look the height of elegance, they offer good insulation against cold, shield interiors from fading due to bright sunlight and are fully adjustable for light levels and privacy. For a solid investment in the future for an older property, wooden shutters are hard to beat.

Other areas to focus on in older houses include heating and plumbing systems that consume less energy. If an antiquated heating system is being overhauled why not replace it with one of the more energy efficient options now available? Good research pays dividends in this crowded area, but those who take the plunge enjoy impressive savings and clean environmental returns.

Get free power from the sun with solar panels! Those ubiquitous rooftop panels are now easy to source for domestic premises. Affixed to south facing roof elevations, they are the perfect energy source for hot water and lighting circuits – and once the initial investment is paid for, they keep powering the home for years, for free!

Energy efficient homes are clearly here to stay and it’s good to know that whether modern or traditional, we can take practical steps to reinforce these ideals within our own four walls.

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