INTERIORS: Greening your home

Greening your home

Interior Design
Niamh Tuohy

Part 1
You’re probably blue in the face from reading about ‘going green’, but in all honesty, it really is one of the most important issues out there when it comes to either new builds or renovating or re-decorating your home.
Doing your research now and planning an environmentally friendly space in which to live is paramount not only in playing your part in the future of your world; on a financial level alone, going green leads to lower bills in the day-to-day running of your home.
Whether you’re intending a major construction project or simply changing decor, it’s vital to know the available options. Get as much advice as possible, scour the internet – remember, knowledge is power!

Timber-framed houses
Compared to concrete or steel, timber-framed houses are not only an environmentally friendly solution in terms of manufacture and construction, they also offer a far superior end product when it comes to maintaining and sustaining them down through the years. They’re faster to heat, cheaper to run and lead to fewer greenhouse emissions than their counterparts. What’s not to love?

Building materials
Where possible, try to ‘keep it Irish’. Sourcing and purchasing through your home country  supports the economy and ensures you do your bit for the environment. Buying local means transport costs are kept to a minimum, thus lowering the carbon footprint. Obviously there will be times where this will not be possible, but one needs to weigh up both the financial AND the environmental costs of sourcing materials overseas.

Solar panels
Although pricey to install at the beginning, this system of heating water will undoubtedly save you money in the long run. By simply harnessing energy from the heat of the sun, you could gain 60 to 70 per cent of your annual hot water needs. The solar panels should be placed on the south facing side of your roof, with the optimum angle being 30 to 45 degrees.

Insulation and ventilation
Correct insulation within a building will slow down the heat flow within that space. During the summer months, it will help to reduce heat gain into the building and keep it cool; during the colder winter months, it will trap the heat inside for longer and prevent condensation from building up. It’s a fool-proof way to keep your heating costs and air conditioning to a minimum. Ventilation is equally important for an energy efficient house to ‘breathe’ properly. It allows for correct air circulation, which in turn will prevent moisture damage.

Geo-thermal heating
For this you’ll need a fair amount of outdoor space. The idea is that you lay pipes beneath the ground so that the water running through them is heated to the temperature of the earth (somewhere between eight and 12 degrees). Essentially, it’s another way of harnessing energy from the earth that, once installed, costs nothing. Once you have managed to gather this heat energy, it’s simply a matter of heating it further to your required level. Rather than taking fuels, such as gas and oil, and starting from zero degrees, you now have a head start by taking it direct from the earth at a pre-heated level of approximately 12 degrees. However, as mentioned, if it’s not a new build, you will need the adequate amount of space required to lay these close to your property.

If the idea of all this renewable energy and environmentally friendly building is proving too much financially, then remember that grants are available for all types and sizes of properties and projects. Check out for information on how to go about renovating your home while keeping the environment in mind, as well as the schemes and grants may be open to you.

Next time Ideas on interiors and how to achieve the look you want and keep it ‘green’ at the same time.