Eco renovations reduce your environmental impact, cut waste and save you money on fuel and electricity bills. Eco renovations include fitting draught proofing and insulation, replacing heating systems and replacing a bathtub with a shower tray.

Eco Renovations – Draught Proofing

Fixing External Draughts

Draught proofing is one eco renovation that will cut your fuel bills and make you a lot more comfortable, instantly.

There are two types of draught you need to work on cutting out, draughts from holes to the outside world and internal draughts.

Take a walk around your home and look for gaps and holes. Check around windows, sometimes you will find gaps three inches across. Fill all these gaps up using an expanding foam spray. If the hole is a large, deep one then push wire wool into the hole first. Try to avoid overfilling, but any excess can be trimmed off with a craft knife. Paint over the filler with grey or white masonry paint and nobody will ever notice it.

Windows and doors often have tiny gaps around them, and these tiny gaps add up over the whole house. The average house has gaps totalling three house bricks, so it is definitely worth spending a few dollars finding and filling these gaps.

There are two ways to find draught gaps around windows and doors. You can just put your hand there when it is windy outside, this will help you find larger gaps. Another way is to look for light leaking out around windows; this is easiest in the dark. If light is leaking out, then warm air is leaking out and cold air getting in through those same gaps.

Use rubber strip, rather than expanded foam in the window or doorframe. Doors and windows should close against the rubber strip easily. The strip compresses and the gap is filled. You can buy rolls of self-adhesive rubber sealing strip from any hardware store.

Fixing Internal Draughts

Buy draught excluder strips for the bottom of every door in the house. Buy draft proofing self-adhesive rubber strip for internal doorways. If the door is closed then warm air will stay in the room. Teach your family to close doors.

Eco Renovations – Insulation

Hot Water Tank Insulation

Your hot water tank sits there losing up to half its stored heat every day, even if it has a moulded on insulation layer. Hot water insulation jackets only cost a few dollars. Buy at least two and fit them over the top of any existing insulation. This eco renovation will pay for itself in a few weeks.

Pipe Insulation

Lag any pipes that you can get to. Hot water pipes lose heat all along their length, heating under floor spaces to 80 degrees or more. Buy lengths of expanded foam insulation. These are slit along the length and are extremely easy to fit. Do not worry about bends.

Insulate ALL pipes in your loft space, it is going to be a lot colder up there and you do not want cold water pipes to freeze.

Loft Insulation

Your loft or roof space almost certainly has some insulation, but not enough to meet modern standards. Now fuel costs are higher we need eight or nine inches of insulation in our lofts, where four inches was once considered plenty.

You can buy rolls of glass fibre insulation material for lofts and just unroll them on top of whatever insulation you already have. Be sure to push them right under the sloping eaves of the roof. This is a dirty and uncomfortable job. Wear clothes that you can throw away afterwards, because you will never get the irritating glass fibres out of them. Use goggles and a face mask while you do the work. The goggles help keep the fibres out of your eyes, but more important, they stop you rubbing or scratching your eyes with glass fibres.

If you are thinking of having the loft insulated professionally then insulation contractors use two systems. Some will use rolls of glass fibre, as outlined above, but a faster way to insulate your loft is to use a pump to blow glass fibres into every nook and cranny.

Do not insulate underneath your cold water header tank in the loft, but insulate around it and cover the top with a piece of insulation board.

Cavity Insulation

Most modern houses have a twin wall construction with an air gap between the two leaves of the wall. Houses built since 1990 will have cavity insulation fitted at the construction stage, usually as sheets of expanded polystyrene. Older houses must use a pumped glass fibre or rock-wool solution.

An insulation contractor will drill holes every three feet in all your external walls and pump insulation into the cavity. This is like putting a woolly jumper on your home, making external walls warmer and reducing the enormous amount of heat lost through the walls.

You will probably be eligible for a government grant that will cover up to two thirds the cost of installing cavity and loft insulation.

Eco Renovations – New Heating Boiler (Furnace)

If you want to cut your carbon footprint and reduce your greenhouse gas emissions then you will need to replace your gas, oil or coal fired central heating boiler.

There are two eco-friendly alternatives to fossil fuel burning:

  • Wood burning stoves
  • Wood pellet burning boilers

Wood Burning Stoves

A wood-burning stove is a room heater, usually with a glass front panel. It allows you to burn wood efficiently and to get a lot more heat out of a wood block than you would by burning it in an open grate. You should seriously consider replacing all open fires with wood burning room heaters immediately.

Consider putting one into the hallway of your house, if you have a suitable chimney. The convection of heat from this room heater will heat all the upstairs rooms, once your house is properly insulated.

Wood Pellet Burning Boilers

These burn wood pellets. The boiler can be automated with a small conveyor belt bringing in a constant supply of pellets to replenish an internal feed hopper above the boiler.

Wood pellets need DRY storage. If you buy them in bulk then they must be kept bone dry. The best place to store them is in a fully insulated, garage-sized store immediately adjacent to the house. This will minimise condensation and problems caused by damp pellets.

If you have no dry, insulated storage facility for bulk wood pellets then you will need to buy them by the bag, which is much more expensive.