The US dollar dived sharply on Monday as the currency was shaken by widespread political unrest in US cities.
In such an environment, interest in eco homes is understandably growing worldwide.
If you’re planning to invest in overseas property in the near future and want to find out more about the environmentally-friendly options, read our quick guide!
Top tips for your new green home abroadGoing green doesn’t mean compromising on comfort. An eco-home can be as cosy, functional and smart as any other property, and a sustainable home is certainly no more or less difficult to build or buy than the average house.
Sustainability is the key word in green building, so when you’re establishing your new home – whether this is a new purchase, a refurbishment or a new-build – you should keep the following points in mind:
- Recycle and reuse: Recycling and reusing can take many forms. For example you could re-purpose old car tires as an energy efficient wall, stacking them like bricks and packing them with soil, or source reclaimed wood for framing and use recycled newspaper insulation in cavity walls. When furnishing your home, go for second hand items, like refurbished doors and windows or salvaged floor tiles.
- Sustainable and local: When building wood frame houses look for a sustainable source from a well-managed forest in a documented and certified supply chain. For refits, use local building merchants and tradesmen. Sourcing locally reduces the carbon footprint associated with transport, whether that’s the transportation of materials or manpower.
- Renewable and alternative: Some seemingly unlikely building components, like cotton, wheat, straw, and bamboo, renew quickly and are infinitely more efficient than traditional construction materials. Straw bales are a surprisingly common feature in many eco-homes, used to build walls in place of concrete, steel and insulation. Bales can usually be sourced from a local farmer at a fraction of the cost of bricks and mortar.
- Non-toxic and environmentally friendly: Many traditional building materials contain pollutants which release toxicity not only during production but throughout the life of the house. Apparently innocuous materials like carpet, paint, insulation, plaster, concrete and plastic are among some of the worst offenders. Consider alternatives, like lime washed cob in place of plaster, a wall of bamboo canes instead of paint, or sheep’s wool insulation instead of synthetics or fibreglass.
Think energy saving
- Making a home eco-friendly means making energy-efficiency part of your building plans or else introducing energy-saving elements into an existing property.
- Some things worth considering include:
- Use glass windows, doors and even walls to soak up sunlight and daytime warmth then shutter the glass at night to trap the heat.
- Build heat-sink external walls using granite or ceramic/clay bricks to absorb heat during the day then slow-release during the night.
- Collect rainwater and reuse this for greywater purposes, feeding low-flow shower heads, toilet cisterns, dishwashers, laundry and sink run-offs.
- Use insulation, energy-smart appliances, solar panels and seals around double-glazed windows and storm doors to reduce energy seepage. The less energy you use the less needs to be produced – and the less you pay!
Buying a ready-made eco-homeIf you plan to buy a plot of land and build your own eco-friendly home there are plenty of ‘ready-made’ options to choose from:
- Prefab: ‘Prefabricated’ homes are manufactured off-sight using highly detailed plans, then transported to your chosen plot. A building team is then required to build the finished product, rather like Ikea furniture. Prefabs are simple, can be cost-effective and construction waste is generally minimal. Look for a prefab company as close to site as possible to reduce the impact of transportation. Carbon footprint: medium.
- Zero carbon: Zero-carbon technology houses generate energy from sustainable sources, from underfloor heating powered by outdoor solar pipes, solar panels or heat sink walls that trap natural warmth and slow-release during the night. Carbon footprint: low.
- Natural light house: Using the same principles of energy retention as a greenhouse, these houses allow sunlight to heat your home naturally, lessening the need for central heating systems. An airtight natural light house can potentially rely purely on the warmth of the sun (even on cold days!) reducing energy bills to zero. Carbon footprint: low/medium.
- Refurbish: Buying a ready-built house is one of the best ways to recycle and gives you an opportunity to renovate in your own style. What better way to implement your green initiative than by reusing something that already exists. Carbon footprint: low.
If you’re keen to join the green home revolution there are plenty of options available to you – but make sure you do plenty of research first so you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into and what to expect.
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