Park and holiday home advice: simple tips to make your park home as energy efficient and environmentally friendly as possible
For many owners of residential park or holiday homes, being as environmentally friendly as possible is an important part of the lifestyle. We’ve taken a look at some of the ways in which you can improve the energy efficiency of your home.
Modern park and holiday homes are generally pretty good when it comes to environmental matters. Most come with very efficient boilers and are well insulated – and that is bound to help reduce your carbon footprint.
The standard for residential park homes in the UK, BS 3632, was updated in 2015 with the aim of improving energy efficiency and helping to reduce the environmental footprint of residential park homes.
But, if you are serious about being kinder to the planet, then there are plenty of other options for you to explore. Manufacturers offer lots of energy-saving features such as rainwater harvesting, solar power and ground-source heating, all of which will boost your eco credentials – and definitely help you to save some money, too.
You can get energy information at the time you are deciding which park or holiday home to buy. The National Caravan Council (NCC) operates two schemes with its member manufacturers. Both help buyers to gauge the energy efficiency of a home. For holiday homes, there’s the Structural Thermal Rating Scheme, which takes into consideration the home’s insulation qualities and the amount of energy required to heat the home.
Holiday homes are given a rating that assumes that the home isn’t used during the coldest part of the year. For residential park homes, the NCC has an Energy Rating Scheme that gives an indication of the total energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions in a 12-month period.
New park and holiday homes are insulated to a high standard. But unfortunately that’s not always the case with older models. As a result, if you have an older park or holiday home, you could be wasting energy and spending more than you need on your heating bills.
There are many companies out there which specialise in making park and holiday homes more energy efficient. The technology is varied and there are plenty of options available, including external wall, loft and underfloor insulation.
Whichever approach you go for, the result should be a cosier home and a few bob extra in your pocket for spending on the stuff that you’ll enjoy much more than paying bills for heating.
With prices starting at around £5,000, insulating your park home is not cheap. But it brings a host of long-term benefits to you and the environment.
Insulation reduces the amount of heat escaping through the walls and keeps your home warmer for longer. It’s not only during winter when insulation comes into its own. In summer it helps to keep your home cooler, by keeping cool air trapped inside.
With heat kept inside your home by extra insulation, your boiler doesn’t have to work as hard to keep the temperature at a comfortable level; that, in turn, lowers your energy bills. The average fuel bill on a park home is estimated to be at least £1,000 a year and, according to energy campaign charity, the NEA (National Energy Action), good insulation can reduce that amount by up to £500. The NEA estimates that insu-lating a park home can save more than 920 tonnes of CO2 over the lifetime of the home.
Another obvious way to improve your energy efficiency is to have solar panels installed on your park home. The roofs on park homes are very different to traditional brick-built homes so it’s important to have any installation done by a company with experience and specialist knowledge of park homes.
Some park home manufacturers offer solar water heating as an option. Omar Park and Leisure Homes and sister company Wessex Unique Lodges and Park Homes have two systems available that will absorb daylight and use it to heat water. Even when there is no direct sunlight, these panels generate enough energy to reduce the gas consumption of your boiler.
AIR TO WATER HEAT PUMPS
A pump would be located outside your home and converts heat from the air to hot water which, via a high-efficiency, twin-coil cylinder sited inside your home, transfers this heat to the radiators and hot water system in your home.
GROUND SOURCE HEAT PUMPS
This system works in a very similar way to air source heat pumps but takes heat from the ground. The home’s plot, though, has to be able to accommodate a ground loop collector, which is a series of pipes installed underground.
Energy saving ‘eco-boilers’ are another way to improve your efficiency, especially if you currently have an older boiler in place. One of the UK’s leading manufacturers is Worcester Bosch, which has teamed up with the company Park Home Insulations to offer energy saving boiler systems tailored for park homes. These allow you to adjust your heating and hot water to meet your exact needs, helping you reduce any ‘wasted’ heat.
WINDOWS AND DOORS
The windows and doors are the greatest sources of heat loss in any building. Park and holiday homes are no exception so it’s important that they are as efficient as possible.
The manufacturer, Pemberton Park & Leisure Homes, for example, uses double-glazed windows with low-E (or low-emissivity) glass, which is created to minimise the amount of infrared and ultraviolet light that comes into the home.
The windows are filled with argon gas, which displaces the air between the windows and improves the insulation value of the window – known as the U-value. Pemberton says this provides at least 40% better insulation levels than the industry standard.
Omar Park and Leisure Homes and Wessex Unique Lodges and Park Homes’ standard doors and windows are low-E and meet standards suitable for domestic building regulations. But, as part of special eco option packs, you can replace them with alternative glazing, which Omar and Wessex says can reduce heat loss by a further 27%.
Triple-glazed windows and doors will give even greater energy savings as well as a huge improvement in sound reduction.
Another eco option offered by Omar and Wessex is rainwater harvesting, which provides recycled rainwater for use for flushing toilets, washing machines, garden watering and car washing.
Biomass burners work like standard gas and oil boilers that you find in most homes, but are fuelled by wood logs, chips or pellets rather than gas or oil, so are less harmful to the environment and more sustainable. Burning wood is effectively a carbon-neutral process as it only produces as much carbon dioxide as the tree absorbed while it was growing, cancelling itself out.
The advances made in biomass heating technology in recent years mean you can now incorporate it into a bespoke home and, again, this is an option offered by Omar and Wessex as part of their eco package.
A smart thermostat, such as Hive Active Heating, allows you to control the temperature from a smartphone, no matter where you are. This will work with your existing heating system and you can set up to six schedules a day, as well as managing the hot water system.
The geolocation feature also means that your thermostat knows if you’ve gone out and left the heating on, so there’s no chance of the heating blasting out into empty rooms, wasting energy and money. Using a system like this means you won’t have to heat an empty home again, potentially saving you up to £120 a year on heating bills.
If you want to minimise the amount of water – and also energy and detergent – used by your dishwasher, there are ways in which you can achieve this. Firstly, wait until you have a full load before you switch it on.
The fewer times you run the dishwasher in a day, the less energy, water and detergent you will use.
It might seem unlikely, but the way you load your dishwasher can help save water and energy.
Be careful not to overfill it, as this could prevent some items from being cleaned properly and force you to put them through again. Load large items at the back and side – if big plates are at the front, this can stop the water reaching the detergent dispenser.
Another energy saving tip is to open the door at the end of the washing cycle and let the dishes dry naturally, instead of using the appliance’s heater or fan. The water should be hot enough to evaporate quickly if the door is left open after the wash and rinse cycles are complete. Incredibly, you can save about 15% of total dishwasher energy use by choosing this method.
It is important to have a dishwasher that is rated for energy and water efficiency. In the UK, you can start by comparing the Energy Efficiency Index of the appliance. All of the kitchen appliances that are used as standard by Omar and Wessex, for example, are ‘A’ rated and above. But if you have specified an integrated dishwasher in your home, Omar and Wessex will upgrade it to a more energy-efficient model. Potential water consumption could be reduced by 33% (five litres) for a full load wash cycle. A smaller dishwasher will use even less energy and water.
The Omar and Wessex eco package also allows you to include kitchen and bathroom taps that are designed to reduce water consumption.
These introduce air into the water droplets, resulting in less water usage and a more powerful jet of water from the taps or shower heads.
PARK HOME ENERGY SAVING TIPS
Park home energy efficiency experts, Insulated Homes, offers this advice:
- Only fill your kettle with enough water for what you need
- Don’t leave electrical appliances on standby
- Switch lights and electrical items off when not in use
- Don’t leave the hot tap running when washing up; use a bowl – or a dishwasher
- If it’s chilly, put on a jumper and some warm socks rather than the heating
- Only use the washing machine when you have a full load
- Keep your oven door and light inside clean so that you don’t need to repeatedly open the door to check on cooking progress
- Defrost your freezer regularly and pack out empty areas with newspaper
- Close your curtains in the evening to keep heat in
- Have shorter showers
If you’re interested in buying a park or holiday home, or you already have one and want inspiration on how to get the most from your park home, then Park and Holiday Home Inspiration magazine is for you. Better still you can download a copy right now, just click here to get the latest copy of Park and Holiday Home Inspiration magazine.
All pictures in this feature are copyright of Warners Group Publications and the park home manufacturers and may not be reproduced without permission