Chris Salzano, Wednesday 19 September 2012
Gone are the days when living in an eco-home was the preserve of tree huggers.
Now we are all conscious of protecting our environment, and it’s becoming financially desirable to be conscientious too.
Woodburning stoves continue to soar in popularity and it’s easy to see why: not only do they look fantastic they’re also economical and easy on the environment. The latest styles look great in modern homes and thanks to technological advances, heating costs for an average household can be significantly lowered. We all love a traditional fire but woodburners are much more efficient – 80 per cent, when compared to the 25 per cent of an open fire. Modern woodburning stoves burn much cleaner and more efficiently, and the latest glass box designs or those fitted flush to the wall provide stunning views of the flames.
As far as eco credentials go, wood gets top marks; it’s sustainable and can be carbon neutral too (the CO2 released from burning is the same amount a tree would have absorbed in its lifetime). Logs are one of the cheapest forms of fuel - so you’ll definitely get a warm glow plus you’ll be saving cash too.
And once you’ve warmed the cockles of your heart, it pays to make sure they stay warm too! Every house can score eco points by being low carbon and energy efficient. The easiest way is to ensure the heat you use stays in your home. That means insulation. Insulating the loft, cavity walls and beneath the ground floor can slash heating costs and make life snugger. Up to 50 per cent of your heat can be lost through the windows so consider double or even triple glazing - and there are some easy to install secondary glazing options. Alternatively, use energy saving blinds. Install thermostatic radiator valves for efficiency and use reflector panels to cut heat loss.
Better still, under-floor heating is a more efficient way of heating a room. Save around £300 a year by replacing your gas boiler with an A-rated highefficiency condensing boiler. If you have a combi boiler devices are now available that can recover waste heat from the boiler’s flue gases and use it to heat the hot water supply. Grants are available for heating, insulation and boilers so check with your energy supplier, local authority and on government websites. Look out for the Eco-refit - a Green Deal policy launching this month which offers homeowners loans to improve their energy efficiency.
You can’t get any more eco-friendly than generating your own power with solar panels. Not only do you save cash by not having to buy energy, you also get paid for the energy you produce through the Feed in Tariff (Fit). And while government incentives may not be as attractive as they once were, you could still earn around £540* a year, as well as generating 75 per cent of your home’s yearly electricity needs.
Buy a DEFRA approved stove with the latest clean burn technology - this is important in smoke control areas like cities - otherwise you need to use a multi fuel stove and burn smokeless fuel.