There are many reasons homeowners might seek to undertake a sustainable home renovation, including boosting property market value, modernising an older home, or simply making a house more stylish or comfortable. These days, one of the most common reasons for renovations that we see is cutting down on energy costs. Typically, this can be done by updating features that help reduce the overall usage of water, electricity, gas, or all of the above.
Even relatively small and cheap renovations can pay for themselves in energy savings quite easily; there are energy-saving renovations that fit any budget. With that in mind, we are looking at some renovations for smaller and bigger budgets and discussing the positive impact these changes can make on your home.
Sustainable Home Renovations for Smaller Budgets
The term “renovation” is typically associated with major projects, like tearing down walls to add a new room, but the truth is there are many smaller projects that fall under this term as well.
One key improvement is using insulation to maximise the thermal efficiency of your home. This can be achieved with a relatively small budget by investing in insulation in your floors and ceiling, which is a relatively easy and cost-effective solution. Existing external walls can also be insulated using blown in or injected products.
The type of windows you have in your existing home has a significant effect on thermal performance and air tightness. Replacing every window and external door can be a costly exercise, but replacing joinery in the rooms that are used the most, such as living areas, can be a cheaper alternative. Consider new double-glazed windows or retrofitting a secondary glazing system, which can be acrylic or glass. When choosing your new windows, also think about the window frames. Simple aluminium frames can contribute to major heat loss, and it may pay to choose some thermally broken frames, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) frames, or timber frames, which all perform much better.
Appliances are another energy hog in the home. Hot water cylinders and appliances in the kitchen and laundry may be old and inefficient. Consider investing in appliances that have a high star rating for energy and water efficiency, to save you money for years to come.
Home Renovation Projects for Bigger Budgets
Careful consideration of sun paths and shading is vital when undertaking a larger renovation that may allow for a change in the orientation of your main living areas. Any renovation should maximise natural light, warmth and airflow, while preventing overheating. This allows passive heating and cooling of your home, saving on energy costs.
When undertaking a larger home renovation in which external walls are being exposed, we recommend installing an air tight membrane and vapour control layer. This intelligent membrane acts as a barrier to prevent drafts and the loss of heat, and prevents the development of mould and mildew.
Installation of a balanced ventilation heat recovery system creates a healthier and more comfortable home by creating a warm, low humidity environment. This system draws in fresh air from outside and filters it of dust, pollen and pollutants, before being distributed throughout the house in a ducted system. Stale air is also taken from inside the house, and any residual heat is extracted and used to warm the incoming air. See our previous blog about a recent home renovation using this type of system.
In addition, there are many innovative eco-technologies that can be used in home renovations, which often require a higher level of investment but give a great return. Some examples are solar panels, hydronic underfloor heating, and water harvesting.
Looking to bring your home into the modern era?
Energy-efficiency and sustainable homes are only going to become more important across NZ as time goes on. If you are looking to reduce your carbon footprint, or you already plan to make renovations and want the chance to make a difference, we can help. The experts here at Craft Homes can help you turn your home into one that works for you, and works for the environment too. Contact us today to find out more.
Toby and Cat Tilsley