Energy efficient home extensions
Extending your home can be an attractive idea for many reasons; a larger living space thought out carefully and with energy efficient goals that go beyond Building Control, can have a truly positive effect on your lifestyle and carbon footprint.
A home extension will mean you have to heat and light a larger area or more rooms, which can be expensive and contribute to increased carbon emissions. Building Regulations stipulate that you must take on certain energy-efficiency measures when extending, such as insulating cavities and floors (and any lofts), making provisions for low-energy lighting wherever possible, and installing Thermostatic Radiator Valves (TRV) on any new radiators. A TRV gives better control over the individual room temperatures. It is also encouraged to place TRV's on existing radiators.
According to the Energy Trust:
“Real advantage can be gained from seeing an extension as an opportunity in the life of your home to take affirmative action on reducing energy costs and improving comfort. This applies to both the extension itself, and also beyond. Think about investing in the most energy efficient options your budget can stretch to.
First and foremost, building materials. It’s worth considering breeze blocks over bricks, with external wall insulation over the top. It’s a more efficient option, and with a good aesthetic finish to boot.
While the builders are in, it might well be a good idea to consider installing wall insulation on the whole home. This saves on cost and hassle, while making all rooms warmer and potentially bringing fuel bill savings of £150 to £250 or more a year, depending on your home and heating system.”
Heating your extension
Because your space has increased, that means it will take more energy to heat. Considerations should be made regarding the installation of an energy-efficient boiler for example, or other less electricity consuming heating methods such as ground and air source heat pumps and underfloor heating.
LED lights use very little energy, last a very long time and, unlike regular energy-saving bulbs, they are instantly bright when switched on, they have come on a long way in terms of performance since they were introduced a few years ago. The brightest bulbs can still set you back around £20, most cost less than £10, and the energy savings they will provide in your home make them well worth considering.
If you want your home to retain as much heat as possible, you will need to choose the right insulation, and have it fitted correctly. Different types of insulation are available depending on the construction method you opt for, so it’s a good idea to speak to your architect for the most suitable insulation for your extension.
Insulation is all well and good, but essentially you will be creating a ‘sealed box’ that is designed to retain heat. Ventilation is key to avoid damp and condensation in your extension. A good ventilation system will allow you to remove the stale moist air that builds up in your home from showering, cooking, drying cloths etc, without losing the heat. Passive or Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery are two energy-efficient methods to achieve optimum indoor air quality.
Creating an energy efficient design for your extension doesn’t need to be complicated. Assuming you do enough research at, and even prior to, the design and construction phase, your build should be straightforward.