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An eco-friendly house: tips from Oliver Heath

oliver heath_30_07_12Oliver Heath, presenter of BBC’s Changing Rooms and spokesperson for The National Home Improvement Show is a huge eco homes champion. He believes that it is important to think long term when creating a green home in order to save your household running costs:

“If designed with care, eco homes can be beautiful, healthy, nurturing and efficient spaces to live in. Eco materials and products will help cut your use of basic resources like gas, water and electricity, cut your yearly bills and also help keep your home lovely and warm this winter and for many winters to come.”

Here are his top tips for an eco home:

• Draft excluders
Draught excluders around doors, windows and opening such as letter boxes will eliminate cold drafts and help to insulate the house avoiding heat loss and save warm air. This means that less energy is needed to heat the home which could save households £55 per year (Energy Saving Trust). Draft excluders should be placed in the around doors, windows, loft hatches, letter boxes, and even key holes. They can be bought from DIY and hardware stores and make for a satisfying and easy DIY job.

• Chimney Balloon
Do you have a disused fireplace? A cheap and effective solution to stop warm air being sucked up the chimney breast and out of the house is a chimney balloon. This device will also prevent draughts coming back down the chimney into the house saving you money on heating your home. Fitting one will make an immediate and noticeable improvement to the warmth of that room and can easily be removed by deflating the balloon if you want to use the fireplace.

• Heat recovery ventilation
Good ventilation is essential in moisture heavy rooms such as bathrooms and kitchens, to reduce the build up of damp which can lead to the growth of mould, but can often lead to cold drafts unless the right product is specified. A heat recovery fan can be up to 80 per cent efficient, extracting the warmth from stale air and using this to preheat fresh air being drawn in; helping to reduce moisture and providing warm fresh air. They are continual running but can cost as little as £4 a year to run.

• Windows
Get your windows cleaned every four-six weeks to maximise the amount of light coming into the home. This will maximise natural light and reduce the need to turn on electricity hungry lighting – another energy saver! Giving your windowsills a lick of light reflecting paint will also reflect natural light back into your property reducing the need for artificial light. Thick curtains over windows will also reduce heat loss at night but make sure these are pulled well back in the day and don’t cover radiators.

• Radiators
Using a metal radiator reflector will reflects the heat otherwise lost through the wall at the back of the radiator back and push it forward into the room. Also it’s worth fitting thermostatic radiator valves to control the temperature in each room. Both items cost little, are easy to fit, will improve comfort and help cut your bills over the winter.

• Standby switch
We waste between £50 – £86 a year by leaving appliances such as stereos, tvs and satellite systems on standby. This is 16 per cent of household electricity being frittered away (Energy Saving Trust). A standby switch will turn off all appliances that are plugged in, at the touch of a single button and will reduce energy otherwise wasted.

Oliver will be attending The National Home Improvement Show on 28 September – 30 September 2012 ( If you would like the chance to win one of five pairs of tickets to the event, why not enter our competition! (
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Picture credit: Myung Jung Kim / PA Images

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