Green Technology for the Self Build Home

Green Technology for the Self Build Home

If you are having a new home built, or if your house is undergoing a major renovation, this is the perfect time to incorporate technologies to make your home greener and with lower running cost.

Increasingly strict building regulations mean that achieving a high level of efficiency in any new home is a requirement. Some measures are required in almost every new home to meet current regulations. But this is the perfect opportunity to take things a step further and create a really efficient green home with minimal long term running costs.

“A well designed and co-ordinated system, incorporated into the build itself is the best way to get a green home at great value.”

Pursuing the carbon neutral home ideal is getting more and more possible. Established and affordable technologies should be considered when designing any new home.

The best results can be achieved when green technologies are planned into the very fabric of your building design at the earliest possible stage.  All the green technologies mentioned below are easiest and much cheaper to install, when they are installed as part of the build of a home, rather than retrofit afterwards.

Planning the right mix of green technologies for your home and your personal renewable goals is very important. Many technologies compliment each other, and the systems should be designed to work together to achieve the maximum level of efficiency.

“Planning the right mix of green technologies for your home and your personal renewable goals is very important.”

Where budgets are restricted, it is worth looking at a combination of systems that will give you the greatest return for your investment.

A well designed and coordinated system, incorporated into the build itself is the best way to get a green home at great value.

I hope the suggestions are practical and useful and can go towards helping you build a greener and more sustainable home.

9 Green Technologies to consider for Your New Build Home

1. Roof Integrated Solar PV panels and Battery Storage

Solar PV is now the most well established of all the green technologies. The cost of equipment now highly affordable due to the economies of scale of mass production. Every home can benefit from a solar pv system, as every home uses electricity.

Your own solar pv system produce car cost free energy at zero cost, and will do so for many decades.  When linked with a battery storage system the power you generate in the day can then be stored and used to power you home at night.  It is easily possible to completely power your home, independent of grid input from march to October (most days), including electric cooking, and even electric car charging.

“Roof integrated Solar Panel systems are very cost effective when installed during the house build.”

Although there is an investment cost to a pv and storage system, it will have repaid itself within a decade, and it will last for many decades afterwards.  The main advantage to incorporating a solar pv system into your new home at the build stage means that you can cost effectively install a very aesthetically pleasing roof integrated system installed. With spiraling energy costs predicted a solar PV system can save you a fortune in the long term, and the sooner you invest in a system the sooner you will start saving from it.

2. Air Source Heat Pump heating system

An air source heat pump is now the go to heating system for the modern home.  Not only do they offer much lower running cost than the traditional gas and oil heating systems, they are run on electricity and therefore have the potential to be completely renewable, if powered using green electricity (for example using solar

A heat pump is now the goto heating system for the modern home.  Not only do they offer much lower running cost than the traditional gas and oil heating systems, they are run on electricity and therefore have the potential to be completely renewable, if powered using green electricity (for example using solar PV or electricity purchase from a green electricity provider such as Ecotricity.)

“A heat pump is the obvious heating system for every new build home.”

They are super reliable as no combustion is involved and they also have a fit and forget functionality, couple with high tech app controls and monitoring devices – they are the heating system of the future.

If your home is well insulated they are the most obvious heating solution. They have relatively low installation costs, which are currently heavily government subsidised by the RHI (Renewable Heat Incentive.)

They are the perfect heating system for any new build home due to their high level of insulation and air tightness.  They are particularly well suited to working on underfloor heating systems, as they operate at a lower temperature and work best in maintaining a steady comfortable heat level.

“Designing a heat pump suitable heating system from the outset is the most efficient approach.”

When designing the heating system for your new build home this is the perfect opportunity to decide to incorporate and ASHP.  The system can them be designed to perfectly suit the efficient operation of a heat pump (underfloor heating, correctly sized radiators, right diameter pipework, appropriate hot water cylinder installation and location.

3. Ground Source Heap Pump heating system

A ground source heat pump works very much like an air source heat pump system, however they are even more efficient due to the stable ground temperature used as their heat source.  Although the installation costs are relatively high the running cost are exceptionally low, and the generous government incentives mean that you will most likely profit from your system withing its first 7 years of operation.

“A ground source heat pump is not only the most efficient and green heating system available it is also the most potentially lucrative, thanks to the RHI.”

A ground source heat pump is most cost effective when installed during a build, as the ground works involved are a big part of the cost but are easily done whilst machinery is on site for the house build anyway.

Using our Helicoil collector system means you don’t necessarily need a large garden / ground space for a heat pump to work, and it also minimises disruption and cost of installation.

“When installed at the time of build a ground source heat pump system is very cost effective and will be more than repaid by the RHI grant”

A ground source heat pump system is really the ultimate green heating system for your new home.

4. Low energy LED lighting

Once I started monitoring our household electricity consumption I was surprised to find out how high our night time base consumption was – this was due to lighting.  We consequently changed every last bulb to low energy and cut our evening base load by over ¾ .  One 60w light bulb is the equivalent of 6 lights now.

Installing low energy and LED lighting throughout your new home is a must (and will save you lots of energy.

5. High Efficiency Log Fire

Log fires can offer great supporting heat to your home, as well as being a thing of beauty and romance.  As they burn biomass in the form of logs they are also using a carbon neutral green fuel (of course assuming sustainably sourced logs.)

Installing modern designer high efficiency (80-90%) log fire means that you will have a much cleaner burn with greatly reduced particulate and gaseous emissions, plus you will be using half as many logs, as you would other wise use with a traditional log burner.

“Log fires can offer great supporting heat to your home, as well as being a thing of beauty.”

It is really important that your log fire is incorporated into the design of your new home, to ensure that it is installed as cost effectively as possible, and the flue issues are considered at the early design stage.

A modern designer log fire is also a stunning feature to your new home, and consequently deserves being designed into your new home to achieve its maximum impact.  Your log fire can very much be the ‘heart of the home’ and as such needs to be designed as a central feature to your house.

6. Rainwater Harvesting

Water is a very cheap utility here in the UK, however it still has a carbon and energy cost to produce.  It is possible to use harvested rainwater to flush your toilets and do your washing, water your garden and clean your cars.

“A rainwater harvesting system is very cost effective when installed during the build of a house”

Whilst a fully home integrated rainwater harvesting system is only really practical when done during the build of a house.  If the tank is installed when machinery is on site, and the pipework is done when other plumbing is being done, a rainwater harvesting system can be very cost effective to install.

7. Heat Recovery

A mechanical ventilation and heat recovery system (MVHR) can reduce your heating requirement by 30-40%.  Best suited to the modern highly insulated and airtight home, these systems pre-heat incoming fresh and filtered air using heat in the air within the house before it escapes through the fabric of the building.  Less heat is wasted, less heat is required, heating costs are reduced and so are heating bills, whilst all the time keeping the house comfortably warm and condensation free and filled with clean fresh air.

“A heat recovery and mechanical ventilation system is a must for the modern air tight new build home.”

A heat recovery system is best planned into the building design and is much more cost effective when installed as part of the build process.

8. Underfloor Heating

An underfloor heating system is the ultimate heat emitter system for your new build home, costing little extra if installed during the build.

“Underfloor heating is perfectly suited to working with a highly efficient heat pump heating system.”

An UFH system is perfectly suited to lower temperature heating system like a heat pump, however the pipework should still be designed to suit a heat pump system, and therefore these decisions should be coordinated and part of the original building design.

As well as offering a more efficient means of heating, UFH also makes for a much more comfortable and stable heat level around the home, with a much more even heat distribution that with radiators.  It also means you do not lose any wall-space to potentially unsightly radiators.

9. Electric Car charge point

Although an electric car charge point is easy to retrofit and install anywhere at any time, it is still easier to be done as part of the house build and should be considered alongside the design of a solar PV and storage system.

Due to the superiority of Electric Car in terms of performance, reliability, and running cost, it is now predicted that the combustion engine will be almost obsolete within a decade, and as such having an electric car charging facility will very soon need to be on every new house.

Since it is likely that you will be looking at an electric car for your next car, you should consider installing a charge point as part of your build.

I hope the above green technology suggestions provide inspiration for your new home / self-build project.  Whilst it may not be possible or affordable to include every technology suggested, hopefully at least some will be possible and the above list can work as an ideal with which to work towards. It is my hope that everyone will do that bit more to be greener, and a new build self-build project is the perfect time to put more green technology into your home.

Lets all do all we can to make our home and lifestyle’s as green as possible. Thank you for reading.

Author Details: Richard Norris, founder and Director of ‘Completely Green’ and ‘Drive Green’, family man, and sustainable living enthusiast.

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