Moving house is notoriously stressful, so it’s no wonder that many people choose to extend their current property rather than looking for a new home. Building an extension is also the ideal opportunity to increase your property’s green credentials by ensuring that your extension is as eco-friendly as possible.
The material you choose to build your extension from will largely depend on the type of house you have as most people look for materials which complement their existing property. However, from an eco-friendly point of view, it’s good to consider all of your options. Wood sourced from sustainably managed forests is an environmentally friendly choice, and because of its versatility and, it can blend well with many different house styles. If you would prefer a more traditional bricks and mortar style, then try to source previously used bricks as not only will these look fantastic as they blend into your home more naturally, but it is also a way of recycling building materials.
As extensions tend to be only connected to the house by one wall, they can be prone to being chilly as they don’t absorb any heat from surrounding rooms, so insulation is a must when building an extension. Ensuring that there is a continuous layer of insulation across the walls, floor and roof will mean that you can keep drafts out and save money on heating your extension. There are plenty of options available for eco insulation, including sheep’s wool and loose-fill cellulose which is made from 85% recycled newspapers and 15% fire resistant material. Loose-fill cellulose has the highest level of recycled content of any insulation product available. If you have water running into your extension, don’t forget to insulate the pipework as this will ensure your water stays hotter for longer. According to the Energy Saving Trust, insulating pipework can save around £10 a year and is a simple job to do.
Skylights are a great way of doing this, and they also provide a source of passive solar heating, although it’s important to remember that this is not necessarily a good thing in summer. So, if you are installing a skylight, don’t forget to include blinds to regulate the temperature. In cold weather, a skylight can lose up to 45% more heat compared to a window on a wall as warm air rises. According to the Consumer Energy Center, the best position for a skylight, in order to get the right balance with heat, is “to position your skylight with a slope equal to your geographical latitude plus 5 to 15 degrees.” If you’ve gone to the effort of insulating your extension, then it makes sense to ensure your skylight and other windows are equally energy efficient. Triple glazing can bring your skylight up to the same thermal value as your insulation, and therefore, your extension can avoid cold patches gathering around the glazing and drawing heat from the room which can cause condensation.
Lighting can account for 8% of the average household’s energy bills, so cutting down this on this can prove to be very beneficial. One way of doing this is through introducing more natural light in your extension. The installation of bi-fold doors is an opportune way of doing this as they flood a home with natural light. From a ‘green’ perspective, it is advisable to install doors with certified low U-Values. This means that the doors have been tested against British Building Regulations so the door will be able to keep your home cool in summer and warm in winter, which can reduce winter heating bills.
Light-emitting diodes (or LEDs) are an eco-friendly lighting alternative. Incandescent and CFL bulbs contain an environmentally hazardous mercury, and often waste up to 90% of the energy they consume on heat. In comparison to this, LEDs use small, powerful sources of light that only shine in one direction which produces a fraction of the heat and allows them to last longer. They may appear to have a higher up-front cost, but in the long run, LED bulbs can cut your lighting costs by up to 90%. LED bulbs are the only true environmentally friendly lighting option on the market.