design for a sustainable future
Within the European Union the energy intensity of households has risen since the early 1990's. This higher consumption of energy is mainly due to space heating. There are now more single households, we use on average more space per person and have become used to the fact that our houses are well heated in the cold winter months. Heating has also become more expensive in recent years. So, how can we save money and reduce CO2 emissions?
There are some very simple behavioural guidelines:
A room temperature of 19°C in living spaces is comfortable and bedrooms do not need more than 15°C. Our spaces are often overheated and we open the windows for fresh air letting the heat out.
If you are not around, turn the heating down, but not too low as will need a lot of energy to warm the space from cold. Thermostats and timers are available, which allow you to set temperatures to your requirements and convenience.
Most houses have central heating with radiators. Don't cover up the radiators as the heating is most efficient when the warm air can flow freely.
The highest gain in savings and reduction in CO2 emissions can be achieved through the insulation of the outside walls and the installation of energy efficient windows. If you have 100m2 outside wall, high performance insulation will reduce the heating requirements by around 10.000kwH and heating costs by approximately £600 per year at current gas costs. At the same time you will reduce CO2 emissions by 2.7 - 3.3 tonnes per year.
Of all the fossil fuels, gas causes the least CO2 emissions, 40% less than coal and 25% less than oil. A wood burner is considered CO2 neutral as the trees consume as much CO2 as burning them produces.
Here in the UK gas is the most used heating fuel. An A-rated condensation boiler has an energy efficiency of up to 90%. Replacing an old boiler might reduce gas consumption by 20 - 25 per cent.
By introducing insulation, high performance windows and energy efficient heating systems such as a condensing boiler, energy consumption for heating can be reduced by up to 75 per cent. If you are planning to completely refurbish your property, this can be achieved within the same budget as a conventional refurbishment.
The addition of renewable energy sources such as photovoltaics and solar panels will enable you to reduce the amount of energy needed from the outside even further.
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