Today (22/04/2015) is Earth Day – a worldwide day of celebration of our planet and the environment which has been celebrated yearly since 1970. Events are held all over the world to show support for environmental protection. This year, events range from conservation talks and animal demonstrations at Utica Zoo in New York to a beach clean-up event in Kuwait, and even a ‘grow your own food’ demonstration in the Galapagos Islands. In the UK, events are being held in schools, workplaces and town centres across the country.
As well as being a day for celebration, today is a good day to think about your own impact on the environment. As well as what you eat and how you get around, your home is one of the main areas where you could be wasting resources and money. In celebration of Earth Day 2015, we’ve decided to list the top 5 home improvements we offer which can make a huge difference to the environment, not to mention your household bills.
1. Double (or Triple) Glazing
If your home currently has single glazing (or has very old double glazed windows), then you could make a big dent in your carbon footprint by upgrading to new double or triple glazing. Modern DGUs (double glazing units) are constructed to be extremely efficient and secure, so not only can you greatly improve your impact on the planet and your energy bills, but you can also improve your home security – something which is especially important for ground floor windows. Another benefit of new double or triple glazed units, is that draughts, noise and condensation can all be reduced quite dramatically, making your home a nicer place to live.
Eco Rating: 8/10 – you could save up to £160 per year on energy bills alone.
2. Insulated Garage Doors
A garage is a great addition to any home, providing space for your vehicle and other belongings, or perhaps acting as a hobby room or workshop. When it’s attached to the main part of your property, the efficiency of your garage door can greatly affect the temperature inside your home. Non-insulated garage doors can allow heat to escape from your home in the colder months, meaning that you end up spending more on heating the adjacent rooms. For those who use their garage space as a workshop, gym or hobby room, the addition of an insulated garage door can make all the difference to how comfortable the garage is to spend time in.
Eco Rating: 6.5/10 – insulated garage doors ensure your bills are kept low and your belongings aren’t compromised by extremes of temperature.
3. Composite Front and Back Doors
Although they make up just a small part of your home, your front and back doors can have a big impact on the energy efficiency of your property. Draughty doors which don’t fit properly in the frames and single glazing included in the design are both terrible for energy efficiency, not to mention security. Composite doors are the most eco-friendly entranceways out there at the moment, and could present a solution to energy efficiency, noise and security shortfalls in your current doors. Insulated and well-constructed, composite doors are made from GRP (Glass Reinforced Plastic) and have an expected lifespan of an amazing 35 years, making them much less wasteful than other types of door.
Eco Rating: 6/10 – not only will a composite door eliminate draughts, but it’s also long-lasting, ensuring the materials are used to their full advantage.
4. Aluminium and Timber
Whatever type of home improvement you’re looking at, it’s important to think of the materials that are being used. The manufacture and disposal of certain materials can be extremely wasteful and bad for the environment. Where possible, it can help to opt for aluminium or timber as a base material for window frames, various door types and garage doors. This is because both timber and aluminium are long-lasting, take little energy to produce and are easy to dispose of/recycle in a planet-conscious way. Aluminium has the distinction of being one of the most widely recycled materials on the planet. It doesn’t lose quality each time it’s repurposed, so it’s a great material to choose for your home improvements. Decent timber window frames last longer than uPVC with the proper care – up to 65 years! – so this is another material worth considering, especially if it’s sustainably sourced.
Eco Rating: 8/10 – window and door frames make up a large part of your home, so by choosing sustainably sourced materials which are easy to recycle, you’re considerably reducing your home’s carbon footprint.
5. Bi-Fold Doors
Bi-Fold doors are fast becoming the ‘must have’ home improvement, allowing you to bring the outside in on warm summer days and create a versatile living space. Having a wall of glass in your home at first seems like a really bad idea environment-wise, but you’d be surprised at the efficiency and benefits of these doors. Aluminium Bi-Fold doors are not only made from an efficient material, but they can bring a huge amount of light into your home, dramatically reducing the need for lighting. Not only this, but the ability to open your home right up in the warmer months will save you money (and energy) on cooling your property with electric fans, air conditioning or similar.
Eco Rating: 5.5/10 – if you’ve got your heart set on bringing light and versatility to the ground floor of your home, then an aluminium Bi-Folding door set could be the perfect solution.