It’s the number one chapter in Kevin McCloud’s book, 43 Principles of Home, and an important factor for many homeowners – energy, and how to use as little as possible.
McCloud says he uses a wood fire to visually track his heating energy consumption in a similar way that budgeters use cash instead of credit cards – it’s tangible and accountable.
While it’s an appealing concept, the reality of installing a wood fire may not be practical or possible.
Instead, McCloud offers other advice to help us create our own sustainable homes:
- Use recycled or eco-friendly material wherever possible. The general rule of thumb is the more local and plant-like the materials, the less energy and fossil fuel required to manufacture it.
- Install the right balance of insulation for your home. That doesn’t always mean more, as insulation will effect ventilation and climatic conditions. Ask the professionals for advice, which might involve filling voids in your walls or installing insulation under your home.
- Plan smaller windows. This will limit draughts and lower sunlight and heat entering your home.
- Add window treatments. The right type of curtains or blinds will let light in when you need it and reduce light and heat when you don’t. Try insulated or light blocking blinds in bright areas and sheer curtains in darker spaces. The type of curtain will be governed by how you use the space, as well as climatic conditions.
- Plant trees. Consider planting a tree instead of installing awnings or shelters to shade your home. Deciduous trees work well to balance the amount of light and heat you want within your home from summer to winter.
- Install solar. Go straight to the energy source and install solar panels.
- Draught proof doors and windows. Add rubber strips around windows and doors, fill in gaps under skirting, seal floorboards or add rugs to reduce any draughts, especially in older homes.
- Update appliances. Replace old appliances when you can, such as fridges, heaters, washers and air conditioners, as they become inefficient and highly energy consuming over time.
- Change showerheads and light bulbs. Use new water and energy efficiency fixtures and light globes, which will save you energy and money over time.
- Turn down heating and adjust cooling. Turn down the boiler on your hot water system, and adjust heating and cooling levels to approximately 24 degrees.
- Unplug appliances that don’t need to be on 24/7. Set up two powerboards in main activity areas – one that stays on permanently (for fridges, etc) and another you switch off (for microwaves, TVs, stereos, computers, etc) as you go to bed at night.
- Recycle – big and small. Place recycle bins in a handy place so you use them Recycle food waste in your garden or donate it to a local community or school garden. When it comes to the big stuff, sell or donate them to charities or online groups or sales websites. To reuse is to recycle.
Beyond the home, you can also reduce energy consumption by walking or riding. If you’re looking for a new home in a new community, be sure to check out the local transport options so you can easily live a low-impact, sustainable life in your favourite community.
Please note: This article has not been prepared, nor endorsed, by Kevin McCloud. It is a third-party summary and review of the content in his book, 43 Principles of Home: Enjoying Life in the 21st Century. The article is provided as information only.