Considering expanding your home with a loft conversion? In this article, David Knight, from Roof Windows 4 You, shares four top tips that will help you to create a sustainable living space in your loft.
Loft conversions can offer a fantastic way to open up your home and add some extra space but, like any home renovation, they can take a toll on the environment if they aren’t planned carefully. It’s especially important to take care when carrying out any work on your roof space, as the design and construction of this area can have a very significant impact on the overall heat and energy efficiency of your home. So, it’s essential that every element of your renovation — from the materials used, to the lighting and décor — is chosen with sustainability in mind.
Here, I’ll share my tips for planning a more eco-friendly loft conversion, while also creating a stylish and welcoming new living space.
Source eco-friendly or reclaimed materials
Loft conversions don’t normally require a huge amount of additional building material, as they are usually designed within the existing roof space. However, depending on your plans, you may wish to open up your loft by extending the walls outwards or upwards, or by adding a dormer window. If so, you can make the process more sustainable by sourcing eco-friendly materials.
If possible, try to use reclaimed timber and brick wherever possible, as this is easily the most sustainable option. If this isn’t an option, you can go for FSC or PEFC certified wood, as this guarantees that it comes from sustainably managed forests where trees are continuously replanted. As for the roof itself, the most eco-friendly option is to re-use tiles from the existing roof. If this isn’t an option for you, or you need extra tiles to complete the job, try to source reclaimed roof tiles or shingles made from recycled rubber and wood fibre.
You should also bear in mind that, according to The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015, any materials you use should be similar to rest of your home. If your house is grade-listed or within a conservation area, you may need to source specific materials that are in keeping with the overall character of the surrounding area.
Insulate the roof space for energy efficiency
In an uninsulated home, around a quarter of all heat is lost through the roof (Energy Saving Trust). And that means your boiler will need to work even harder to keep your house warm, which in turn increases the overall carbon footprint of your home. So, as part of your loft conversion, you’ll need to install insulation in the walls and ceiling of the roof space.
Not only will this make your loft more eco-friendly by reducing your carbon footprint, but it will help keep the space warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Plus, it can save you a pretty penny on your utility bill: research from Which? found that installing loft insulation could slash energy bills by up to £215 per year.
To make this process as sustainable as possible, choose insulation made from recycled glass, paper or cellulose fibre, as these tend to be much more eco-friendly choices than many traditional fibreglass styles. If you want to go the extra mile, you could even opt for insulation made from natural materials like hemp, cork or sheep’s wool.
Install triple-glazed roof windows
You’ll no doubt want plenty of natural light in your loft conversion, so you should consider installing some roof windows. Not only do these add style, light, and potentially some nice views to your space, but they can also be quite an eco-friendly addition, too.
High-quality, modern roof windows tend to be constructed in a way that minimises heat loss — particularly if you choose triple-glazed windows, which will provide outstanding energy efficiency. Warmth from the sun helps to heat the room in the winter, and they can also be used to ventilate and cool the loft during warm summer weather, meaning less energy is needed to heat and cool the space all year round. If you decide to get remote controlled roof windows, you can even get styles that are solar-powered, for added energy efficiency.
Add eco-friendly lighting, fixtures and fittings
Once the construction work is finished, you can turn your attention to the fixtures and fittings. LED lighting uses far less electricity than traditional halogen styles, so be sure to install this throughout. If you’re fitting an en suite as part of your loft conversion, you can go for low-flush toilets and water-conserving low-flow taps and showers. Depending on the size and layout of your loft, you could even consider installing a rainwater harvesting system, which will store rain and filter and recycle it for other purposes, like flushing the toilet.
Lastly, try to keep the eco-theme going in your choice of décor, too. You can use eco-friendly, non-toxic paints to add a splash of colour and style without harming the environment, and flooring can also be sustainably sourced: just look for reclaimed timber and tiles, or choose a natural wool carpet.
When it comes to saving the planet, we all have a part to play. So, if you would like to extend your home with a loft conversion, be sure to follow the tips I’ve shared here to make sure your new space is as sustainable as it is stylish.