Sustainable Living - Financing your Healthy Home

Jan 16, 2020, 11:55 AM by Polly Buckland

Sustainability is firmly on the agenda. If “drastic action” is not taken soon, then “adapting to [the] impacts will be more difficult and costly,” according to the United Nations.


Making our homes more sustainable is just one small thing we can all do to address the climate crisis. But how do you know how your home fairs in terms of its current efficiency? You can check the EPC register for free here https://www.epcregister.com/. Each EPC report will give you your rating and will provide high-level recommendations for improvement. 

We’ve listed the most common recommendations below to get you started. 

Generating electricity

Right at the top of your house, you’ve got a money maker sitting waiting to be utilised. Solar panels can often have a return within five years of installation, and you can profit off them quickly if you’re sending the excess you make back into the grid. As we’ve mentioned previously, solar panels are incredible at providing a Return On Investment (ROI) in terms of investment in your home. 

 

The more roof space you have, the better, 14m2 of roof space can give £3,800 back in profits after 20 years. As well as covering your initial energy bills, you can make money from having them installed. 

TrustMark has a range of verified Solar Panel Installers that customers can use safely in the knowledge that the tradesperson carrying out the work has been vetted to the highest standard. 

Keeping it in.

Insulation is a vital part of reducing heat spill. From cavity wall insulation to excellent loft insulation, getting good quality but also sustainable insulation is incredibly important. 


There are eight readily accessible options for sustainable insulation. 

  • Cellulose is made from shredded newspaper and fire retardant and is comparable to fibreglass.

  • Mineral wool is a blend of basalt rock and recycled slag. It’s also sound-absorbing and resistant to pests and fire. 

  • Cotton is made of old denim and other recycled kinds of cotton and as such, has a low chemical content. 

  • Insulation can also be made from agricultural products such as corn, soybean oil or sugar cane and comes in either rigid boards or spray foam. 

  • There are also eco-friendly versions of fibreglass available where the spun glass is made of recycled glass. Some are also encased in bagging to prevent airborne fibre concerns. 

  • Sheep’s wool is fluffed and treated with pest control additives and is a good option for those concerned about health issues as it’s the most natural. 

  • Cement is an excellent option as it’s extremely fire resistant, permanent and is pest and mould resistant. 

  • And finally, greensulate is made with mushroom fibres and blended with agricultural by-products. It’s more expensive as it’s custom made fit for your walls. 


Before you get any insulation work, make sure that you’ve consulted with any relevant parties and your installer as this work will fall under the new ECO3 regulations and require a Retrofit Coordinator. 

TM_Sustainability_Infographic

Getting hot.

Heating your home is essential in the varying British weather. There are numerous sustainable options here, including ground source heat pumps, air-source heat pumps, biomass, solar water heating and thermal stores. 


While many can be intrusive to fit, the payoffs can be higher as they use renewable energy sources.


Select renewable options may also qualify for grants under the Renewable Heat Incentive, a government scheme designed to provide financial support to those who use more sustainable choices. Payments are made quarterly over several years. 


More commonplace, a smart meter can help you to monitor your gas usage and help you to cut down on your usage. 


Building well.

Choosing a builder that is committed to sustainability is very important. Ask your chosen tradesperson about the materials they use and ask if you can use sustainable ones only. 


Everything from your choice of insulation, to choosing FSC - Certified Wood can help to make your home more sustainable. 


If you’re decorating, ask for a low Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) paint as VOCs directly contribute to atmospheric pollution. 


I’m floored.

There are four kinds of flooring to consider in a sustainable home. They all look similar to regular flooring but offer additional environmental benefit. 


  • Bamboo is best for bedrooms, kitchens and living rooms and lasts as long as traditional hardwood. A downside of this is that it is imported mainly from Asia so clocks up the air miles. 

  • Cork is an extremely durable flooring that is naturally resistant to rot and fire and also mutes sound. It’s perfect for young families as it has fast recovery from dents. It’s not ideal for rooms that are at risk of flooding or standing water, as this can damage the cork. If you have underfloor heating, it’s also not a great option as cork is a natural insulator. 

  • As we mentioned above, FSC - Certified Wood is a sure way to ensure you’re buying from somewhere that encourages socially responsible foresting, and respects the rights of workers and indigenous communities. 

  • Natural fibre carpets are a softer alternative to the above. If you buy products with the Green Label Plus, then you are getting a certification that ensures the lowest chemical emissions in the carpet process. 



Energy friendly Windows.

Windows are the place where heat can most easily be lost as they are not insulable. From the quality and design of the seals to the thermal rating of the frames and type of glazing used, every aspect is essential. 


The Energy Saving Trust recommends that homeowners look for a rating of C or above to ensure they are saving as much energy as possible. The higher the rating, the more energy-efficient your windows will be. 


The Government, under the guise of the BFRC, introduced an energy performance rating to educate consumers to show how windows compared. 


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If you’re looking to make your home more sustainable, why not speak to one of our TrustMark tradespeople? We now offer finance on larger building projects, eligibility applies. Search for a trader near you today: https://www.trustmark.org.uk/find-a-tradesman

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