Conserving energy is something most of us advocate. In our homes, we do our part in plugging off appliances and not overusing them. But there are even better ways to decrease our dependence on billed-for electricity and increase our impact of going green. For those of us planning to build a house, that is especially the case.
It's a plus if your plans include making green elements of your house part of the overall design. One good feature is a large glazed area at the entrance, as this helps bring more sunlight into the middle. Also, there are eco-friendly buildings with sustainable development to absorb and contain energy from the sun. Thick concrete slabs absorb the sunlight, store the warmth and release it back into the building overnight. Solar panels are another great option.
Those examples were incorporated in Nick and Caroline Baker's self-build project in West London. Initially, the land itself was desirable secluded and surrounded by oak trees at the rear of residential gardens. The couple's goal was a home with a modern look that still felt in tune with nature and the environment. Coming up with a treehouse concept, they chose to site the house close to the middle of the garden in order to maximise daylight.
Construction involved steel and timber frame. Two interconnecting wings were formed at an angle, joint by a double-height entrance hallway. One of the wings had the ground level wetroom, utility room and kitchen-diner while the other hosted the master suite atop a spacious living room. Pipework was also kept to a minimum because of the layout of the rooms, with the shower zone placed above the utility. The first floor was cantilevered out under a metre past the glazing, which provided a canopy over the ground level. That would enable people to be just outside the house enjoying the sun without getting overheated. Solar thermal panels were assembled later on, which Nick says provide around seventy per cent of the hot water. 'For up to nine months of the year every time we take a bath, shower or use the hot water tap, it's free,' he adds.
Indeed, the Bakers' home is impressive. Guests would be stunned to know the pretty good chance that the warm showers they're taking wouldn't add to the bills. The only recommendation we'd give the couple is this: installing an air powered elevator. It's a product that would look good in any house as eco-friendly as theirs, as it doesn't rely on much energy itself. Having one of these round lifts adds not only sophistication but convenience as well, specifically in traveling between floors. They're easy to assemble and can fit in almost any home. They don't require the cables or pistons that traditional elevators have. They don't need lubricants, oils or other toxic chemicals. For maintenance, they require servicing only once every four or five years. No harmful materials are necessary to keep these state-of-the-art lifts in top working condition. All in all, they're great decorations with a function. Any eco home would only look better having one.
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