Posted on March 20, 2020
Jason Rogan from Cirencester-based C P Jefferies plumbing and heating explains how Air Source Heat Pumps are a great option to be retrofitted to listed properties to provide a 'clean source' of heating for your period home instead of oil or gas. Combined with a green electricity source they can drastically reduce your energy bills, too.
Day to Day
Obviously the energy efficiency of the appliances we buy, the recycling we do and the products we purchase on a day-to-day basis will have the biggest impact on the carbon-footprint of our home. Looking at the energy-rating of any new appliances you buy, being 'energy conscious' at home with the power you consume and making sure you are utilising all the recycling options available to you for household waste are just a few daily ways you can improve your homes' eco credentials.
Even your soft furnishings can make a difference - choosing more economical options such as fitting thermally lined curtains, thermal wallpaper, swapping old-style lightbulbs for LEDs and ensuring all doors and windows are fitted with draft-excluders will all help improve your home's energy efficiency. When decorating, sourcing antiques and salvaged materials will not only add character and be in keeping with your period property, but drastically reduce your carbon footprint, too.
As up to a 1/4 of heat is lost through the roof of your home, it's a great place to start when trying to improve the efficiency of your listed property. Check with your local listed buildings officer as to what is permitted; Historic England has a wealth of information on this and other eco improvements permitted to listed buildings here.
In the Garden
Award-winning local garden designer, Harriet Parsons has a whole host of tips on how you can make your garden a more eco-focussed space, without letting it 'go wild':
Firstly, and perhaps most obviously, an organically run garden, free from the use of chemicals such as pesticides will be more eco-friendly and see a wider and richer diversity of wildlife.
The inclusion of borders and planting will always improve a house and its environment both for people and nature. A diverse range of plants is more beneficial than monocultures, especially in a world where plant diseases are becoming more frequent (ie Ash dieback). Plants and flowers that aren't too highly bred will be more beneficial to wildlife i.e. single flowers are better than double ones. The latter have often had whatever they give to nature ie pollen, breed out of them to allow energy and space for the many rings of petals to grow
Maximise the range of habitats on offer to improve the biodiversity potential and so ecological value of the property. For example, in the wider context of the site tall trees, coppice, clearings, woodland edges, green corridors (hedges, mixed and single species), short grass, rough grass, high meadow and open water are a few of the habitats that can easily be created in outdoor spaces big and small
Review mowing regimes. Long grass benefits many insects and other small animals. Shorter grass improves foraging for owls and other birds of prey, while grass seeds feed wild birds and small mammals and so forth.
Consider rainwater harvesting via water butts, drainpipe and surface water collection i.e into a lake or underground tank. Grey water collection and recycling is also becoming increasingly popular with the eco-conscious.
Finally, when considering hard-landscaping such as drives and hard standing - choose from permeable materials ie loose gravel instead of paving, tarmac and other impermeable surfaces as it doesn't disrupt the movement of water through the ground so much and reduces the risk of surface water flooding.