Going Eco: How to make your property greener

Going Eco: How to make your property greener

With Kingston’s Efficient Homes Show taking place this month, we look at how to make your property greener

Kingston’s Efficient Homes Show will feature a wide range of exhibitors offering advice as well as a programme of events, including how to heat your home without fossil fuel, a ‘School Journey Lab’ for students to create their ideal school community, a talk on low carbon homes and a look at greener ways to travel.

The inaugural show took place last year, highlighting the benefits of retrofitting homes to make them more comfortable and healthier to live in, cheaper to run and more energy efficient. London’s housing contributes to nearly a third of the capital’s carbon emissions. Our old housing stock brings challenges but simple changes can make a big impact.

Monitor your home

There are many ways to improve your home. A basic home monitor can be a good place to start, enabling you to weigh up your priorities. The Centre For Sustainable Energy website is a handy resource with advice on how to interpret measurements, and what you can do to create an optimal environment.

For example, a healthy and comfortable temperature is between 18 and 21 °C. Humidity should be between 40 to 60% – too high and it can encourage mould, too low and it can encourage mites, bacteria and viruses. You can also measure indoor air pollution which may come from a range of sources including gas hobs and cleaning products.

Take a whole house approach

Retrofitting your home with a range of improvements can make a huge difference to how healthy and energy efficient your property is, however, experts advise that you look at all the measures you might want to take as a whole as one improvement could set off unintended consequences – for example, ill-considered insulation could result in inadequate ventilation.

You should also look at the order in which to do things in such as fitting measures that require scaffolding at the same time, or seeing what impact insulation has before deciding on the size of a new heating system.

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Simple steps

There are easy steps you can take by changing your daily habits. For instance, if you dry your clothes indoors, make sure that the space is well-ventilated so you avoid mould growth and keep lids on pans during cooking. Reduce your energy consumption by washing clothes at lower temperatures and change lightbulbs to LEDs. If you have trickle vents on your windows, use them to ensure good ventilation. For cold homes, look at how to reduce heat loss such as open chimneys, which you can block when not in use, and adding draught excluders to doors.

Long-term goals

This can include everything from heat pumps to solar panels. Energy Advice London has useful tips such as the lowdown on solar panels, how much they cost and how much you could save on your energy bills. The website also has information on upgrading your heating, with more efficient boilers, heat pumps or a biomass system.

Greener environments

We can make our urban environments much more appealing and sustainable by installing patches of greenery. Living walls and green roofs can offer a habitat for wildlife, absorb pollution, reduce noise levels, absorb storm water, help with energy efficiency and they can look stunning too. Consideration needs to be given to ensure the roof or wall can take the additional load.