The term “eco-friendly home” all too often conjures images of a ramshackle wooden shack in the middle of a forest – isolated and without the benefit of even basic facilities. Hand in hand with this picture goes the notion that eco-friendly living requires a lot of hard work and sacrifice. However, there are many ways in which you can transform your home into an eco-friendly haven, while maintaining high levels of luxury, style and comfort.
The power of the elements
Solar power is a fantastic way to heat water. All it takes is a bank of solar panels fixed to a southerly facing exterior surface. The heated water can be channelled through pipes that run below your floorboards to provide an efficient underfloor heating system. For external water sources, rainwater harvesting is an easy way to leverage the UK’s annual rainfall quota. Rainwater is collected in large rooftop butts, to be used for anything from cleaning the car to flushing the toilet. Solar power and harvested rainwater can easily be supplemented by mains supply, so you need not worry about ever running short.
Good insulation reduces energy consumption, minimising the need to use heaters or air conditioning units. Beyond the essential wall cavity insulation and argon double glazing, wooden shutters can provide an additional advantage. Shutters act as a buffer between the elements and the window pane, preventing windows from freezing up in winter. In summer, they can be closed to keep the sun out and ensure the house stays cool.
Wood will feature highly in any eco-friendly home, not least as a renewable source of fuel. Wood pellet boilers, already common in the US and Europe, are now coming into vogue in the UK. As their popularity increases, it is thought that the cost of pellets will remain cheaper and more stable than that of oil or gas. Wood-burning agas are another fantastic eco-feature, versatile enough to look fantastic in both rustic and modern kitchen setups.
Lay it down
The best material for eco-friendly flooring is also wood. A great option is bamboo, which grows fast; each plant can be harvested every five years. A stand of bamboo also produces 35% more oxygen than the same area covered with trees. If you prefer a more traditional look, reclaimed wood salvaged from disused barns, turn-of-the-century properties or factories can be processed and turned into beautiful hardwood floorboards that provide a rustic-chic finish with no harm done to the world’s forests.
If you are concerned about the eco-friendly credentials of your home, you should obtain wood from a renewable source. Much wood comes from illegal logging – particularly rare grains such as mahogany. This does immeasurable harm to the Earth’s rainforests, with large swathes destroyed just to get to one valuable tree. This does immeasurable damage to natural ecosystems, and trees do not grow back on the sun-scorched ground. To be sure you are getting wood from a trusted source, check the supplier carries the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) logo.
With very little effort and expense, there are numerous ways you can transform your home to make it eco-friendly without suffering any inconvenience. From shutters to solar panels, eco-friendly installations will help you feel good and reduce your energy bills.