Build your way to a green home

More than one house every minute will need to be refurbished in the UK by 2050, a recent survey claims. The authors of a report to Parliament advise that 25 million existing homes will not meet the insulation standards required by the mid-century.

Michael Holmes, property expert for The National Homebuilding & Renovating Show, says it is important for homes to start cutting their energy consumption and become more sustainable.

He said:

“There are many ways in which a house can be brought up to average green standards including installing solar panels and heat pumps, but it’s also about consuming less energy as well as generating your own.”

The upcoming National Homebuilding & Renovating Show, which takes place from 23-26 March, NEC, Birmingham (www.homebuildingshow.co.uk/national), is brimming with inspiration, advice, products and services to create a sustainable home.

Its eco experts have shared their energy efficiency top tips here:

1) Solar heating

Michael Holmes, property expert for The National Homebuilding & Renovating Show, said:

“30 per cent of the average household heating bill is spent on heating water. Installing solar energy can make you a saving of around £65 per year on your energy bill. Solar panels are a great source of heating and use the sun to heat water. Once installed, there is little maintenance required – just an annual service to ensure the controls and glycol levels are sufficient. To get the most out of your panels the ideal orientation is due south at an angle of 30-45 degrees, and failing that, a west-facing panel is preferred over east.”

Companies including Energy Clever (stand G182) and Hero Renewables (stand G103) can guide visitors through this process.

2) Home batteries

Home batteries are a great way to harness the power from your solar panels so you can use the sun’s power in the evening when you get home from work, saving you money on your electricity bills. Luxury electric car manufacturer, Tesla has joined the energy storage innovation revolution with their Powerwall home battery. The Powerwall can store surplus solar energy not used at the time it is generated and use that energy later when the sun isn’t shining. This functionality extends the environmental and cost benefits of solar. The unit mounts seamlessly on a wall or on the ground, indoors or outdoors. The Powerwall 2 is Tesla’s second generation, rechargeable lithium-ion battery, which at double the capacity of the original Powerwall battery, can store enough electricity to power the lights, sockets and fridge in a four-bedroom house for a whole day. Visitors can find out more details about Tesla’s Powerwall 2 at stand G218.

3) Electric vehicle charging

David Hilton, director of sustainable building consultancy Heat and Energy Ltd, explains:

“There are currently grants of up to £500 available for the installation of an electric vehicle charging point if:

  • You bought your electric vehicle after 1 September 2015
  • You have off-street parking
  • You have it installed by an installer approved by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV).

If you have or are planning to install solar PV panels, it makes sense to use as much of the generation as you can. An electric vehicle can then be fully charged for much of the year for almost free. Solar panels can maximise its efficiency. If you use your car during the day, you need to recharge the vehicle at night, when there is no sunshine. In this case, it may be worth thinking about installing a home battery system in your house. You can then charge the battery during the day and potentially use some of that battery capacity to recharge your car at night, benefitting from any free daytime generation.”

To find out more about home charging and electric cars, visit Tesla on stand G218 and see the brand new 100 per cent electric Model X SUV.

4) Boilers

Michael Holmes, property expert for The National Homebuilding & Renovating Show, commented:

“Installing the right boiler will also make significant savings. The Energy Savings Trust estimates this to be up to £200 per year for the equivalent of 1.7 tonnes of carbon dioxide. Prices start from around £400 for a condensing boiler (not including installation) and self-builders can choose from gas, electric or oil fired.”

Companies including ESP Energy and Wind Hager can offer advice on the most suitable boilers on stand numbers E227 and E203 respectively.

5) Insulate your home

Tim Pullen, eco expert for The National Homebuilding & Renovating Show, said:

“Ensuring your house is properly insulated will minimise heat loss. Bear in mind that 35 per cent of heat can be lost through walls but only 25 per cent through the roof. Houses built before 1920 are most likely to have solid walls and can still be insulated either internally or externally. Loft insulation should be 270mm of mineral or sheep’s wool or 140mm of rigid foam.”

Insulation Giant will guide homeowners on choosing the right products. The company can be found on stand number C260.

6) Double Glazing

Tim Pullen added:

“Double glazing is good, but replacement units are not always the answer. Secondary double glazing can come in at a tenth of the price and will be just as useful. Remember, we only lose 10 per cent of the heat through the windows so be budget aware.”

For more tips and advice on this topic, readers can visit The National Homebuilding & Renovating Show which takes place from 23-26 March at NEC, Birmingham. Standard tickets are £12 in advance or £18 on the door (children under 16 go free). For further information visit www.homebuildingshow.co.uk/national or call the ticket hotline on 0844 854 0503 (calls cost 7p per minute plus network extras).