Remember how long you’ve wanted to fix that leaking tap? Which winter evening did you first think you should really insulate the house? This pandemic has left many of us cooped up at home and there’s nothing to make you want to tackle those niggling home improvements than being stuck inside looking at the four walls. In fact, recent UK based research has shown just how popular DIY has become, and let’s not forget last year’s infamous warning from Irish medics against the dangers of ignoring proper DIY safety (please be ladder aware people). Dangers aside, the joy, tranquility and increased productivity that a serene living space can add to our lives can’t be underestimated, with no end to design tips out there to help make your home a happy hub.
Can Home Improvements be Planet Friendly?
At the Happy Hub we’re all about making home a place you love to be! But let’s face it, there’s no long term value in DIY or even costly home improvements if they come at too steep a cost to nature. So, we’ve gathered some of the most energy efficient, eco-friendly and sustainable options that allow you to upgrade your home, insulating it against cold snaps and heat waves or even becoming nearly self-sufficient. All while reducing your annual carbon footprint!
Considering Irish weather, sustainable home insulation could cut down your energy bills by quite a hefty percentage. When it comes to home insulation though, there’ s no one size fits all approach. Every household is different. You need a solution that best suits your needs, budget and future plans. To help navigate insulation choices, we suggest getting multiple, professional opinions to find the best option for your home.
1. Attic Insulation
This method is one of the most cost-effective and least disruptive on the list. Homes lose approx 20 to 30% heat energy through the roof. Hot air rises, and with this in mind, attic insulation traps that heat, preventing it from escaping, thus saving you precious warmth, energy and money during the winter. It even adds a protective insulation layer against that oppressive attic heat seeping into your living space during the summer. The best part is that depending on your circumstances, government incentives schemes and grants may offset some of the cost.
2. Cavity Wall Insulation
If your exterior walls consist of two layers, this method involves injecting an insulator in between to retain more heat inside the home. While understandably a more involved and expensive option, the benefits can be quite significant over time. Some calculations suggest, on average, cavity wall insulation would ‘pay for itself’ within four years. Admittedly a long term investment as far as home improvements go, but one that could add up to utility bills savings and long term carbon reduction. Definitely worth considering for those who can afford the upfront outlay.
For homes with just one external wall, an insulating layer can be installed either externally or internally. Internal layering does a good job at trapping warmth inside but can be a little less efficient when it comes to stopping outside cold from seeping in.
External layers keep those cold draughts out but do little in the way of keeping heat inside. The alternative is of course, using multiple layers, but this can be prohibitively costly for some. Choosing one option can be enough to meet many households’ needs, and all energy saving is valuable!
Your windows are one of the most significant sources of heat leakage in the home. If you have old windows or damaged seals, these should be at the top of your home improvement list! Double glazing at a minimum, and of course, proper window installation are vital for achieving a energy efficient home.
Keeping your boiler is in good shape can go a long way to lowering your heating bills. However, this is not DIY and shouldn’t ever be attempted unsupervised. Regular servicing by Registered Gas Installers (RGIs) can help keep your heating system running as efficiently as possible, make sure your gas appliances meet the necessary safety standards. Proper boiler care even reduces unnecessary repair and replacement costs over time.
However, if yours is an older model (particularly 10+ years old), it might be time to think about newer, more efficient options. Older boilers tend to be energy-inefficient anyway. So, if one keeps needing repairs, this could end up just increasing your costs in the long run.
Solar panels use light energy from the sun to generate electricity. A sustainable way to generate renewable energy, they reduce your carbon footprint and electricity bill at the same time. While the initial investment is high, breaking even can be achieved in around 5 years. So future house move plans may be a factor when considering any long term home improvements. That said, extra energy generated can also be used to heat water, saving more money. Just make sure you’re prepared to regularly clean your solar panels, because accumulated debris can reduce their efficiency. Yet again, we’re back to ladder safety!
Heat pumps are one of the efficient ways to heat your house. However, your home must be well insulated first. By extracting heat from the atmosphere and injecting it into the house, heat pumps operate with minimal energy expenditure. Think of how your fridge-freezer works, just in reverse!
Now the down side, even with green initiatives and home improvements grants, costs can still be a barrier for many. A typical heat pump produces 1-2 units of heat for every 1 unit of energy consumed, so they can also end up inflating your bill if you’re not careful. With many considerations and heat pump options available, the best way to decide whether this could work for you is to seek professional advice.
Smart Heating Controls
Finally, we couldn’t talk about sustainability, or energy saving home improvements without mentioning HubController! At just €100 or €2.99 during our summer sale, the happy hub is by far the cheapest option of any we’ve mentioned so far. Our Automated Energy Reduction Manager can be installed alongside any existing (or brand new) thermostat controlled heating system.
By offsetting temperature fluctuations, the happy hub eliminates temperature peaks and troughs, saves money and reduces your carbon emissions by 1 tonne per year! This can even extend the life of your heating system. We’re so eager to share this leap forward in smart heating controls that we guarantee by joining our HubCommunity you’ll save least €20 per month in your first year alone.
In 2021, there are so many reasons to be more socially and environmentally aware in everything we do. Even the choices we make at home can impact the future of our planet. Whether you love minimalist design, plants hanging from every corner, or crave a warm, cosy vibe without the worry of rising heating costs each year; choosing energy efficient home improvements can actually save you money in the long run, keep your house more comfortable all year, and ultimately make home a happier place to be.
Our HubController team is dedicated to helping reduce energy usage on a community level (aka carbon emissions) while saving real money for you and your family. Sign up today for just €2.99 and make your best DIY decision, without even leaving the sofa!