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design for a sustainable future

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13.05.2010 01:30 Age: 5 yrs
Category: spaces

Are you living in an old property?

When we talk about energy efficient houses, low energy houses or the Passivhaus, we normally have new buildings in mind. A much bigger challenge however is the existing building stock.

Most buildings can be renovated and upgraded. There is no reason why they should not comply with standards for low energy houses or even the high Passivhaus standard. 

When upgrading a building the following key areas should be taken into account: 

Building shell: Walls have to be insulated and window upgraded or replaced. Find windows with a high u-value which match the style of your property! Heat rises and dissipates through the roof warming the atmosphere rather than your living room. Lofts can easily be insulated at relatively low cost.

Heat and air: How old is your boiler? Are you using an energy efficient condensation boiler? You might be able to run your heating on renewable energy sources. Your heating should be timed and zoned. It can run at a low level when you are at work and the bedroom might only need a boost in the morning. You could install a heat exchanger which extracts the stale air from the house, brings fresh air in and transfers the heat to the incoming air keeping the heat in the building.

Light: High specification windows will allow you to have large openings and to let the daylight in. Use the daylight smartly to avoid the use of electricity! Solar gain might provide you with light but also warmth in the cooler seasons. But you will have to block solar gain during the summer heat.

Which lighting technology is the most energy efficient? Make sure that you use as low energy fittings as possible. Look out for the new generation of LED domestic light bulbs which will leave all the current models standing.

Materials: The materials you use to build and refurbish your home might require a lot of energy in production, transportation and installation. Choose your materials carefully! It might be worthwhile investigating reclaimed and recycled materials.

Water and waste: Half of public water in the UK is used by households. Can we save water? How can we treat and avoid waste? Use less water by never leaving the tap running. Install a dual flush cistern. Shower instead of bathe ? and go for an air powered shower head.

Over the summer thequietriot.com will run a series covering all these topics and show casing best practice.

For a broad overview and advice please see www.energysavingtrust.org.uk .

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