Within the home, dealing with the change in seasons usually involves dusting, washing, storage and hauling items out of cupboards every 6 months or so. Green homes are kept at an even temperature all year round, by means of insulation.
A window or glass door made of 2 separate plates of glass makes up a double-glazing system. An air cavity traps air between the glass layers – and these air cavities actually insulate the home, keeping us comfortable.
Double-glazing helps retain warm air during winter and cold air during summer – this helps save money in the long run.
Through a combination of insulation materials and techniques, a well-insulated home means that utility costs are reduced by more than half. Heating the home in winter and cooling it in summer won’t cost nearly as much.
At the first sign of winter do you dust off your heaters and throw your electric blanket on the bed? Or maybe you stock up on gas and firewood to keep you warm through those dark, chilly nights? With a green home, you wouldn’t have to do any of these things.
And the reason for that lies in proper insulation. You may be surprised to hear that a well-insulated home not only reduces your electricity bill, but it takes all the hassle out of dealing with the change in seasons.
Yes, insulation does mean a significant reduction in your heating costs. But the real benefit is that it keeps your home at an even temperature throughout the year; cool in summer and warm in winter. Green homes combine a variety of insulation materials and techniques to keep your home at the perfect temperature all year round.
Not only are the materials and techniques they use environmentally friendly, but they’re also remarkably efficient and effective. Here’s a breakdown of how a home should be insulated against the elements.
Lambdaboard: Built in-between external and separating walls
Lambdaboard is a high-quality, environmentally friendly alternative which provides superior insulation for homes. Lamdaboard is a polyisocyanurate, which is another name for a thermoset plastic. Essentially, it is closed-cell, rigid foam board set between two facers. The facers are made of a various organic materials such as fibreglass or paper.
Lambdaboard is the ideal insulating material and provides several benefits to homeowners:
- The foam core resists moisture which reduces the risk of rising damp on walls.
- It is made from recycled materials and can also be recycled itself which makes it really environmentally friendly.
- It performs better than most other materials in fire tests. It will not melt, drip or spread the flame.
- It has a wide service temperature range from -30° to 140°.
- It has the highest thermal resistance (R-value) per 25mm of thickness which makes it the most thermally efficient insulation material available on the market.
By inserting this remarkable material in-between exterior and separating walls, the temperature of each individual room is contained and maintained. The result is that heating your home in winter is cheaper and easier.
The Lambdaboard helps to keep any heat generated within the room, which in turn makes you less dependent on other energy-hungry heat sources to keep warm in the colder months. And in summer, the board keeps the heat of the sun out, which makes interiors cool and comfortable.
Here again, you won’t have to rely on expensive and environmentally damaging air conditioners to keep the temperature down. It’s not hard to see how using this amazing material to insulate every room in a home would make it more comfortable to live in.
Hydronics radiant heating and cooling
Homes built using this method to help homeowners control and customise the temperature of their home to suit their individual preferences, makes it a versatile and economical way to heat or cool your home.
How does it work?
Hydronics radiant systems circulate water through tubing laid in the floor between the foundation slab and the surface of the floor. They are connected to a hot water tank and gets cold water directly from the heat pump system. The feeder pipes are well-insulated which helps to maintain a consistent temperature throughout a specific area.
The system is laid out over multiple zones in the home and you can adjust the temperature of each zone individually. That means each member of the family can adjust the temperature in their area to suit their preferences.
What are the benefits?
When compared to regular methods, using water to heat or cool your home has several benefits:
- The floor surface of the area is heated or cooled, rather than the air within it. This eliminates hot or cold spots and makes it more comfortable for the people living in the house.
- There is no need for messy ductwork or noisy fans which means a cleaner and quieter home.
- Dust particles aren’t circulated through the air so there’s less risk for those who suffer from allergies.
- It’s easier to control the temperature of the building and set the temperature to suit your comfort level.
The system is compatible with any type of flooring so you don’t need to avoid using tiles throughout your home for fear that it will be cold in winter. With a hydronics radiant heating and cooling system, you’ll be able to walk barefoot across your floors no matter what time of the year it is.
Combined with the use of Lambaboard in the walls, it’s easy to see why these homes are both more energy efficient and comfortable to live in. Being able to control the temperature within your home, and maintain it without relying on expensive electricity makes a green home particularly attractive to anyone looking to buy a new home.
Any costs involved in such a system will be quickly offset by the reduction in running costs, especially as the price of electricity continues to rise. But beyond this, the knowledge that these methods are also kinder to the environment provides a benefit that cannot be measured in economic terms.
Going green doesn’t have to mean sacrificing your comfort. In fact, a green home is easier to live in and maintain, despite the perception that reducing your reliance on electricity means missing out on the convenience of modern living.
Adding a layer of insulation to floors of every home, ensures that the hydronics radiant heating and cooling system is even more effective.
On its own, an extra thick screed will provide your home with insulation. It is also a good idea to insulate the pipes carrying water.
And not only in the bedrooms and living areas – the kitchen, bathrooms and domestic quarters should be fitted with these pipes and an extra thick screed. So no matter where you spend your time, the temperature of the area will always be just what you want it to be.
Innovative ceiling insulation
One popular method of insulation consists of laying a thick roll of fibre-glass or asbestos material in the roof of your home to trap the heat inside. Although it may be effective, it certainly isn’t environmentally friendly. And it makes it awkward to access your roof space should you need to install new lighting or lay any kind of wiring. But there is a far more efficient and sustainable way to insulate your ceiling.
So what should you use in place of this? If you’re concerned about safety, you’ll be delighted to know that there is an entirely green technology to insulate the roof of your home. Called Isotherm, this insulating material is completely made up of recycled plastic bottles. Not only is this material environmentally friendly, it can also be recycled. You can’t get greener than that.
And it still has some other benefits that all homeowners will appreciate:
- Dust and water resistant
- Non-toxic with no associated health risks
- Lasts longer than most other insulating materials
Choose a ceiling insulation product that is effective and gentle on the environment. Once again, you don’t have to sacrifice modern comforts for the sake of greener living. And you’ll be reaping the benefits of reduced electricity consumption and the costs associated with it for years to come.
The double benefit of insulated plumbing
Don’t let any opportunity go to waste when it comes to insulating your home. Even the water pipes should be insulated. First, cover with an insulation material which is wrapped with insulating tape. And then, benefit from the insulation in walls, floor and ceiling.
You might think this is too much, but this only adds to the savings you’ll enjoy. Obviously all this insulation means that your hot water won’t cool down in winter or your cold water heat up in summer. Via a linked-loop system hot water is available a few moments after you turn on the tap.
So you won’t need to run your taps until the water reaches the desired temperature. This means you’re saving water too. And considering what a precious resource this is, it makes perfect sense to insulate your plumbing as much as possible.
Double glazing on windows and glass doors
You may think that this would be unnecessary considering how many other insulating methods are used to make green homes comfortable and energy efficient. But every technique available must be used to maximise the efficiency of green homes.
Double glazing refers to a window that consists of two panes of glass, an outer pane and an inner pane. Because the window is completely sealed, the air between them acts as a layer of insulation. This stops the warm air inside the home from escaping during chilly winters. And in summer it has the reverse effect; preventing unwanted heat from entering your space.
Once again, this reduces your need to keep heaters or air conditioners running constantly to maintain the temperature of your home. And there are some other benefits to double glazed windows that you may not be aware of:
- It reduces condensation which is the primary cause of mould in the home.
- It cuts down on medium to high-frequency noise, which makes for a quieter space.
- It’s harder to break through two panes of glass so double glazed windows and doors also act as a security measure.
Once again, a feature like this does tend to add to the cost of a home. But it’s easy to see how the benefits outweigh the initial costs.
It’s easy to see how much your energy costs will be slashed by taking advantage of these materials and techniques. Great care should be taken to ensure that every green home build conforms to the strictest safety standards. The materials and techniques used should not only be environmentally friendly, but also durable, effective and cost efficient.
A well-insulated home makes financial sense. Although it may affect the cost of your initial layout, your living costs will be significantly lower. And in less than 10 years the savings you’ll enjoy will more than make up for extra expense of buying a green home. With low maintenance costs, you’ll continue to enjoy modern comforts while also making a positive impact on the environment.
It’s one of the benefits of eco-friendly houses that few people are aware of. And while getting a good night’s sleep may not be the most obvious reason you should invest in a green home, it does have its advantages. When you’re well rested you perform better and that leads to an overall improvement in your quality of life.
But how do eco-friendly homes promote better sleep? The two important factors that influence sleep are noise pollution and air pollution. Green living promotes cleaner air and a quieter environment. Let’s look at how this can be achieved.
Insulation plays an important role in maintaining a comfortable temperature without consuming electricity. Such as:
Double-glazed windows are made up of two pieces of glass with a gap between them. The windows are tightly fitted to the frame to eliminate the possibility of air leaks. Not only does this prevent cold outside air from sneaking in through gaps, it also stops warm inside air from leaking out. It makes it much easier to control the temperature of the room which in turn keeps your room at a comfortable temperature for sleeping.
But the double-glazed windows also dampen the sound and keep the room quiet and peaceful. You’ll be able to drift off to sleep without flinching at every sound you hear.
This is another green living feature that has a dual purpose. First and foremost, it is best to use an eco-friendly insulating material called Lambdaboard. This material is completely recyclable which makes it ideal for use in eco-friendly houses. Lambdaboard is also highly resistant to chemicals used in adhesives during the building process. This makes it sturdy and durable and unlikely to sustain any damage.
Wall insulation not only helps eco-friendly houses to retain warmth in winter, it also provides sound insulation. Blocking out the noise of traffic and making your home a haven of peace and quiet.
It’s not uncommon for traditional houses to have some form of insulation in the roof. But this is often composed of harmful asbestos fibres which can be a health hazard. Once again, it is always best to employ an eco-friendly alternative.
Isotherm is a material made from recycled bottles, which means it’s sustainable and reduces your home’s carbon footprint. But it’s the addition of another insulating material that serves to protect your home from all forms of noise.
If you’ve never experienced a home that’s so well insulated it can be difficult to imagine how this could make a difference to your sleep. But light sleepers will appreciate the reduction in noise levels as a result of the thorough insulation offered by a greener living.
At the same time, all this insulation allows the kind of temperature control that ordinary home owners can only dream of. Eco-friendly homes remain warm in winter and cool in summer without needing to depend on heaters and air conditioners. If you do need to warm up or cool down a room this is achieved with the Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling system. A system of pipes laid under the floor that enables pumping hot or cold water to areas in the home where needed. The system is operated with little electricity and the temperature of each room can be adjusted independently.
It’s worth noting that the floors should also be insulated. The main reason for this is to make the Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling system as effective as possible. Once again it adds to the low levels of noise pollution experienced in a green home.
It’s this even temperature that also contributes to getting a good night’s sleep. You won’t have to worry about electric blankets and heaters in the winter or running a noisy air conditioner all night in the summer. You can walk barefoot on your tiled floors all year round without any discomfort. And when you wake up refreshed in the morning you’ll have the energy you need to get through the day with ease.
Pure, clean air
Greener living implies that every element of a home, from the foundation to the roof tiles, is chosen with care. Eco-friendly houses aren’t just good for the environment, they’re better for the people who live in them. Green living extends to the way you decorate and clean your home.
You may not be aware of this, but furnishings such as carpets and wooden furniture are manufactured and preserved using harmful chemicals. That new-carpet smell is merely a sign that your carpets are leaking dangerous VOCs into the air you breathe. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) include highly toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde and benzene. Breathing in these chemicals can result in headaches, nausea and nerve problems.
Over time, these chemicals accumulate in your home, and older carpets are likely to leach even more of these toxic products into your air. On the other hand, eco-friendly houses and buildings use organic materials that aren’t treated with these poisonous products. Bamboo is an ideal material as it’s sustainable, non-toxic and durable. It adds to the clean and contemporary style of the home. Living green doesn’t have to mean unattractive! Bamboo is an excellent alternative to traditional carpeting. And if you would like to add carpets to your home, look for natural materials such as wool.
Paint and wood varnish are also prime sources of VOCs. There are eco-friendly alternatives available. If you’re re-decorating, do some research before you buy a product and make sure it doesn’t contain toxic chemicals that could damage the health of your family. Or consider natural alternatives that don’t require chemicals in the manufacturing process. Sometimes these aren’t readily available or practical, but minimising your exposure to toxic chemicals will help you save in the long run. A healthy home means fewer visits to the doctor.
Chemicals in the home
If living green is important to you, you’ll want to take a closer look at the products you use to keep your home clean. There are many non-toxic cleaners you can use to keep your home fresh and clean. And the good news is that they’re often much cheaper. Baking soda, vinegar and lemon juice can clean just as well as your regular brands, just without the dangerous side-effects. Get creative and make up your own cleaning solutions. Greener living can be a lot of fun and easier on your pocket!
Here are some other things you can do to make sure the air in your home is free of toxins:
- Vacuum your floors regularly with a HEPA filter vacuum cleaner. These filters trap even the smallest particles and keep them from circulating in the air you breathe.
- Add a few plants to your home. Plants are good at filtering the air keeping it clean and pure. Do some research to find out which plants are particularly suited to this task.
- Open your windows. For just a few minutes every day, you should open the windows in your home to allow the air to circulate. Stale air will be forced out and replaced with fresh, clean air.
- Take your shoes off at the door. Avoid dragging in dirt and toxic particles by removing your shoes as soon as you enter your home.
- Avoid storing paint and adhesives in your home or garage. Rather, keep these in an area with good ventilation to avoid the build-up of toxic airborne particles.
When you think of a green home you may only focus on the features that help you to save resources and money. Additionally, true green living requires you to go beyond that and examine every element in your home. Your furnishings can contribute to a negative impact on the environment in ways you may not be aware of. By understanding how items are produced you’ll realise just how many dangerous chemicals are involved.
Reducing these toxins in your home is not just kinder to the environment; it also makes your home a safer and healthier space. Whether you have a young family or about to retire, ensuring the air quality of your home is essential for a healthy and happy life.
The importance of good ventilation
There’s another reason why eco-friendly houses result in a better air quality—they’re properly ventilated. Ironically, it’s the insulation that has a big role to play in a properly ventilated home. By preventing air from flowing in and out of your home through gaps in windows and under doors, the air inside is less likely to become polluted from outside sources.
But, when it comes to bathrooms and kitchens, good ventilation can prevent mould and mildew from accumulating. Mould spores are always circulating in the air, but when they find an area with the right combination of damp and warmth, they multiply. That’s why bathrooms and kitchens are most at risk. You may not be aware of a mould problem until it gets too big to ignore. By then, the damage is already done and removing it can be costly.
In eco-friendly homes, good ventilation stops this from becoming a problem. And allergies are less likely to occur when green living principles are applied. Ensuring the purity of the air inside your home is an advantage of green living that few people appreciate. And it makes a real difference to your quality of life.
Studies have concluded that ‘sick-building syndrome’ does exist. It’s the reason behind poor productivity and an increase in opportunistic infections in the people who live and work in them every day. Eco-friendly houses and buildings promote better health, and it’s been proven. If that’s not enough to convince you to start living green, consider the effects a toxic home has on your quality of sleep.
Clean air and little noise are the best ways to get the rest your body needs. Eco-friendly homes provide these features for homeowners and the benefits are immediate. Families who live in a green home are healthier, happier and more productive. That all starts with a good night’s sleep and the best way to get that is to make sure your environment is clean and quiet.
Another benefit of greener living is the peace of mind it provides for eco-conscious homeowners. When you know that your home and way of life are not impacting the environment to its detriment, you can sleep easy at night.
Is there really a need for double-glazed windows and doors in South African homes? Our weather can hardly be compared to that of colder climates where this is an essential feature. And yet, there are more benefits to installing this type of window and door in our homes than we might realise.
Such windows and doors are a popular feature on green homes. That’s because they contribute to the overall energy efficiency of a home. And with the rising cost of electricity, more home buyers are looking for features that reduce heating and cooling bills. Whether looking to buy a new home or thinking about retrofitting an existing home, here’s what we need to know about double-glazing.
What are double-glazed windows and doors?
It is simply a window or door made up of two layers of glass with a gap between them. This gap is usually filled with air, although in some cases it may be filled with Argon or Xenon gas. The two panes of glass are separated with an aluminium spacer and the unit is sealed with silicon. A secondary coating of silicon or bitumen is applied to ensure the glass is completely waterproof.
The air trapped between the two panes of glass acts as a layer of insulation. This makes it more difficult for the cold air outside to pass through the glass and into the home, and vice versa with warm air. This is what makes double-glazed windows and doors more energy efficient.
How energy efficient is double-glazed windows and doors?
Single-pane glass accounts for as much as 40% of the energy lost in a home. Double-glazed windows and doors reduce this figure by as much as 50%. In the winter, double-glazed windows and doors reduce and regulate thermal loss from the inside. While in the summer they prevent solar heat from entering our home from the outside. That means our home will be warmer in winter and cooler in summer.
The use of dehydrated air to fill the cavity between the two panes of glass is what makes these windows and doors so effective at retaining warmth. Heat is normally lost as warm air molecules move from the inside of a window pane to the outside, where it’s colder. Because the molecules of dehydrated air are less mobile than normal air molecules, the heat loss is a much slower process, the same, though in reverse, with cool air in the summer.
What are the other benefits of double-glazed windows and doors?
Not only do double-glazed windows and doors help save energy and cut down on heating and cooling bills—they have many other benefits worth mentioning such as:
- Reducing noise pollution: Double-glazing helps reduce the amount of noise that may enter our home from outside. This makes them ideal for homes located next to busy roads or even in windy areas. They also help soundproof our home from the inside out.
- Draught proofing: Double-glazed windows and doors are well-sealed and fitted which means that little air gets through. Even in areas with high wind, the all-round rubber seal stops any icy draughts from finding their way into the home.
- Reduced condensation: Because heat is reflected back into the room, and the inside pane is warmer, there’s less chance of condensation forming on double-glazed windows and doors. This means there’s less chance of mold and mildew developing in the bathroom or kitchen.
- Added security: Two panes of glass are much harder to break so double-glazed windows and doors act as deterrent to intruders. It’s not only the thickness of the window; it’s also the composition that makes it difficult to smash this type of window and door.
Double-glazed windows and doors let in just as much light as regular glass, with added benefits. Why would we want regular glass when we could have something that functions just the same, though makes our home safe, quieter and retains the interior temperature; warmth in winter and cooler in summer?
What to be aware of when installing double-glazing
There are a few things to bear in mind when considering double-glazing. While many green homes include them as a standard feature, retrofitting them requires some consideration. This is what to look out for:
- The right kind of window and door frame: Bear in mind that frames affect the insulation properties of double-glazing by up to 30%. It’s worth spending the money for high quality frames. Timber frames are a popular choice for their aesthetics. Timber requires some maintenance, and especially when double-glazing is fitted.However, aluminium frames require little maintenance. With these frames we need to consider the thermal break. This is a plastic or resin section in the centre of the aluminium joinery made from an insulating material such as uPVC or wood. This type of frame is less likely to attract condensation and will lose less heat than a standard aluminium frame.
- Low-emissivity (low-E) glass: It’s worth ensuring that the double-glazed windows and doors use this kind of glass because it cuts heat or cooling loss by about 10% more than those with regular glass.
- Multiple layers that are well sealed: It is essential that the double-glazing is perfectly sealed. This way they will keep out draughts, moisture and noise effectively. Also ensure that the joint between the frame and the window is well sealed.
- Spacers made from plastic or stainless steel: This refers to the spacers used to separate the two panes of glass in the window or door. When made from plastic or stainless steel (as opposed to aluminium) they aid in reducing heat or cooling loss and condensation at the glass edge.
- Inert gas for the filling: Gases such as Argon or Xenon make better insulators. When used for the gap between two glass panes in a double-glazed window and door they reduce heat and cooling loss by an extra 3%. It may not seem like much but when it adds to saving energy—every little bit counts.
How much does double-glazing cost?
Double-glazed windows and doors are considerably more expensive than regular, single-paned glass. The final cost depends entirely on the requirements. How many windows and doors are required? What are the sizes? These are factors influencing the price when looking at the cost of double-glazing.
Why double-glazing works best in conjunction with other insulation methods
On their own double-glazed windows and doors go a long way to reducing the overall energy consumption. The expense of fitting double-glazing to an existing home would not be as effective if done in isolation. It needs to be considered in conjunction with the other insulation, like insulating exterior walls, floors and ceilings. Comprehensive insulation might not be practical or cost-effective. These points need to be considered as a whole.
In green homes they form part of the methods used to keep energy costs low. This is one part of comprehensive insulation to reduce electricity usage, whether drawn from the grid or from photo-voltaic solar panels. In green homes, they complement the floor, ceiling, water pipe and wall insulation. And when combined with the Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling system, the result is a home with a perfectly maintained indoor temperature throughout the year. The savings on [the water and] energy bills in a green smart home are momentous thanks to this holistic approach.
But when retrofitting an existing home there are some possibilities to improve insulation along with fitting double-glazing. For example:
- Check for draughts and seal them up: It’s a simple matter of looking around the home and making a note of the areas where air leaks in or out. Around windows and under doors is a good place to start. Use sealing strips and caulk to seal any gaps.The idea is to stop warm air from escaping and cold air from entering, and vice versa, so best is to scrutinise every frame, window and door. Even sealing up these little gaps helps to make a home comfortable in summer and winter.
- Insulating the ceiling: lots of heat escapes through the roof so it’s worth adding insulation to this vulnerable area. There are many different kinds of insulating materials to choose from. However, opt for a green alternative rather than the traditional fibre-glass or paper options. Not only is it kinder to the environment, it’s also healthier for the whole family.One such material, Isotherm ticks all the boxes. It’s made from recycled plastic bottles and can be recycled again itself. It is dust and water resistant, non-flammable, non-toxic and lasts longer than many other insulators.
- Use thicker curtaining: We usually switch out the light summer duvet for something thicker and warmer in winter, and the same applies to glass windows and doors. Thick curtains will add an extra layer of protection from the cold and stop draughts from getting into the homeUsing this option for windows and doors contains the costs of adding double-glazing everywhere. That way a home is better insulated and the double-glazing installed is effective.
- Close internal doors: When not using a room, rather keep the door closed. Limiting the airflow within a home goes a long way in keeping the heat and/or cold in and cuts down on electricity usage. Keep in mind that when a room is not in use, it is advisable to balance the electricity spending with maintaining the temperature.Bathrooms are particularly chilly in the winter because they’re filled with tiles that don’t retain heat very well. Keeping the bathroom door closed in winter stops the cold air from seeping out and affecting all heating efforts, and vice versa in summer.
Keeping in mind, when deciding whether it’s worth investing in double-glazing, due to the cost, considering the saving such an investment brings about to heat or cool down our home, and that over the course of their lifespan they pay for themselves many times over. And when implementing comprehensive insulation, further savings are achieved, which recoups the initial investment faster.
A further point is the different experience in summer when the home becomes a cool and quiet haven, or when in winter it is a warm and quiet haven. Not many renovations reduce electricity costs while providing the benefits that double-glazing does. They’ll also add to the value of our property when selling it on. Well worth the extra expense, double-glazing is an excellent investment.