Thursday, 22 April 2010

Home improvements - with a little energy saving in mind

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Who doesn't like to do a spot of home improvement? Ripping out old kitchens, re-modeling bathrooms and replacing draughty windows are just some of the favourite areas for improvement or revamping.

On a grander scale - extensions of loft conversions with en-suites - even turfing out years of unwanted junk from your garage and converting that have become more popular, as homeowners choose to stay put rather than the expense of moving home.

So before you pick up the sledgehammer (or reach for the internet to source a quote - click here for instant online home improvement quotes) - why not consider ways in which you can incorporate or specify energy saving devices.

For example....

If you're replacing a bathroom, why not consider:
- a smaller bath that will take less water to fill
- energy saving shower
- low flushing toilet systems that use half the water of a full flush
- mixer taps so hot water isn't wasted
- low energy light fittings and bulbs
- solar or ground source powered underfloor heating system

And in the kitchen - think about:
- mixer taps to save hot water
- 'A' rated energy efficient appliances
- low energy lighting
- underfloor heating powered by solar or ground source methods

Don't forget that the old fittings being replaced can often be recycled. Why not try to choose warm colours and warm to the touch surface materials too?

Insulation of extensions and conversions goes without saying - in fact it's very often part of the planning specification but think about how you're going to heat these additional rooms. Perhaps it's time to change the whole houses heating system to a more fuel efficient boiler or even explore solar panel systems?

Windows and doors should be double glazed and preferably 'A' energy rated. There are a range of frames and glazing options which include gas filled cavities and and special low-e coatings to help you achieve maximum efficiency and energy savings.

Outside, if you're improving your fascia or converting a garage - why not think about a rain water harvesting system or a simple divert to a water butt from a garage down pipe all saves money.

If you're having a new driveway, think about using reclaimed materials or blocks. Consider the environment and the risk of flooding by choosing a permeable driveway surface.

Check with your local authority - are there any local grants available for insulation or heating system improvements under the Warm Front Scheme or Boiler Scrappage Schemes? The Energy Saving Trust is one useful resource where you may be able to find out more.

And you thought improving your home was all about just having to choose a paint colour?

photo credit: drcorneilus

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