Interior Design for Energy Efficient Homes

04 Apr

Interior Design for Energy Efficient Homes

Home energy efficiency is big news and with a huge hike in tariffs we’re all looking at ways to reduce our bills. The choices that we make for our homes from the flooring to the fixtures and fittings can help in making our homes as energy efficient as possible.

If you’re embarking on a new build or a major renovation there are some energy saving measures that you can, and should, work into the design of your home. If you are investing in your forever home or certainly a long-term one, you will reap the benefits of installing energy efficient systems at the build stage of your project. Address these up-front at the design stage and you can also build in aesthetics to ensure that they fit seamlessly with the overall look and style of your home.

Renaissance Interiors, build in energy efficient systems at the building design stage
If you’re embarking on a new build or a major renovation there are some energy saving measures that you can, and should, work into the design of your home

Thinking of the panels and controls which drive your heating, lighting and electric systems and how these can be housed within your home is essential to do prior to any work starting on your build. Access to these plant rooms which house these mechanics is vital and must be considered upfront.

For example, geothermal/ground source and dual source heat pumps are efficient ways of heating your home and water. However, these will often require excavation of land near to your property and a plant room to house the system. Depending on the other systems you choose for your new home, this could be in excess of 2.5 metres. Combining this with a general utility space may be ideal but proper consultation regarding ventilation and moisture control will need to be sought.

If your project allows, consult your Design & Build specialist to discuss the placement of your windows doors to ensure that these are not only aesthetically pleasing (both inside and out) but are in the best possible position to capture the suns’ light and warmth.

To fully assess your home efficiency, you may require the skills of an accredited domestic energy assessor. However, being aware of and making steps to avoid the most common ways you consume energy in the home will help you to become more efficient.

One of the most common sources of heat loss in the home is due to lack of insulation and poorly fitted windows. If your renovation budget allows, look to get your loft insulated and boarded (it would also be an ideal time to think of storage solutions or possible conversions), windows and outside doors replaced with double or triple glazing (there are many options on the market to look at from UPVC to real wood) and cavity wall insulation.

Renaissance Interiors, interior design for energy efficient homes, cavity wall and home insulation
Wall insulation to help retain heat in the home. Images courtesy of Erik McLean via Unsplash

Cavity wall insulation will not be suitable or, indeed, available, for all properties but it is another way to help your home retain the heat that you are paying for. It is important to find reputable trades to carry out tests to check suitability and to action the work. It is also worth noting that wall insulation has had a bad press in the past, with some supposed benefits such as the prevention of mould actually being exacerbated by poorly undertaken work. Research, reviews and recommendations are strongly advised!

If a kitchen or bathroom (or both) renovation is part of your improvement project, consider upgrading your appliances to those with A+++ ratings and moving from a hot water tank to a combi boiler system. And now is a good time to move to a smart home with appliances, including socket switches, thermostats, lights and boiler all being controlled by an app. You will literally have the power to power your home at your fingertips and have real time energy data to make informed choices helping you to adapt and change your consumption levels.

Staying on top of the maintenance of not only the interior and exterior of your home; filling cracks, repairing roof tiles, mending windows really pays off. And so does staying on top of the maintenance of your home appliances. Cleaning your washing machine by emptying filters and running a hot wash or using white wine vinegar solution will help to keep it working as efficiently as possible and avoid any costly repairs. Likewise, spending time cleaning your dishwasher, microwave, oven and even toaster will ensure that they are working to their optimal ability and not wasting energy heating or cleaning the grime!

Invest in LED bulbs for all light fittings. These have dramatically come down in cost over the years and the initial outlay will certainly be worth it in the long run as one bulb offers in the region of 50,000 hours of light with the top range ones reported to give as much as 100,000 hours.

Renaissance Interiors, interior design for energy efficient homes LED lightbulbs
Invest in LED bulbs for all light fittings. One bulb offers approx. 50,000 hours of light. Image courtesy of Federico Bottos via Unsplash

And, of course turning off lights in rooms that you are not using will only further enhance their longevity and reduce your energy consumption.

Your furnishings can also play a role in keeping your home as energy efficient as possible.

Adding heavy weighted and lined curtains and blinds to windows and doors will help to keep breezes out and as much heat in the room as possible - providing privacy and warmth and a decorative touch. Investing in well made window fittings will not only ensure that they fit and work as intended, they will last and wear well. Often the cheaper option offers only short term benefit which over time will need to be replaced at greater cost.

Likewise, wall to wall carpets on floors and stairs will not only feel luxuriously soft but will also help to retain heat in the room. If you prefer a hard-wood or tiled floor, combine with underfloor heating and invest in thick piled rugs and stair runners. By adding carpet or rugs to your floors (and indeed curtains and blinds to your windows) you will also be helping to dampen the acoustics in the room which is something to consider especially in open plan living areas.

Renaissance Interiors, interior design for energy efficient homes rugs and carpets
Wall to wall carpets and large deep piled rugs on floors and stairs feel luxuriously soft and help to retain heat in the room. Pictured: handknotted Congo B Rug, image courtesy of The Woven Edge

And mentioning acoustics, adding decorative panels to your walls will not only help with soundproofing but will add an additional layer of insulation to your room!

Your choices of fabrics such as natural versus synthetics can also determine how warm or cold you will feel in your home. Great advancements have been in synthetic fibres so if using wool, cashmere or silk is not an option for you, opt for those man-made fabrics which have been created to help insulate or cool. Your fabric choices are never more so important than in the bedroom and especially for your bedding. 

If you’re embarking on a home improvement project of any size, considering how you can reduce your energy consumption will benefit you, your family and the environment. Some of these measures can be felt in the immediate short term and some will help you to reap long term benefits. As Interior Designers and Design & Build consultants, we’re here to help you assess what will be suitable for you and your home. And, where needed, we can put you in touch with the right professionals and trades to discuss and implement energy efficient options. 

Contact us to see how we can help you make your home more energy efficient.

Interior Design for Energy Efficient Homes