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Kevin McCloud on low-carbon builds and how home tech is advancing

Kevin McCloud
Eco Homes: TV presenter Kevin McCloud shares his thoughts on the latest planet-friendly technology for homes. Photo by PA

They say charity starts at home – and in many ways, so too do our efforts to live more planet-friendly lifestyles.

This year’s Grand Designs Live will feature a new Green Living Live area, which will highlight latest innovations in things like insulation, sustainable materials and energy-saving technology.

They’ll also be showcasing a low-carbon home to inspire and inform consumers about the future of eco-friendly home design.

“It’s got good insulation in its bones,” says TV’s Kevin McCloud, who’ll again be hosting the event. “So it doesn’t leak heat and therefore it consumes less.

“I think that’s a really important first principle,” McCloud, 62, adds. “You can buy all the tech and gadgets, but you’ve got to start with the bones of what you have already.”

Low carbon home: Kevin McCloud says eco-friendly homes are not only good for the planet but can also save you money. Photo by PA

Insulate and ventilate

For McCloud – known for his passion for eco-builds – good insulation and ventilation are both important and ideally go hand-in-hand.

“This means double secondary glazing, extra insulation in the loft, more insulation in the walls, if you can get it,” he says. “Insulation under a suspended timber floor, over a cellar, draft proofing, and all the time making sure the air changes are good, the air quality isn’t being compromised, and you’re avoiding condensation.”

Recycling heat

Having a recycling bin in your kitchen, and looking at ways to reuse materials before chucking them out, is one thing. But what about recycling and reusing heat?

It’s something that’s increasingly being looked at – on a bigger scale, as well as via smaller home technologies, such as heat exchanger/recovery fans for kitchens and bathrooms.

Home tech: Doing your bit for the planet is easier than ever thanks to new technology. Photo by PA

“For example at the exhibition, we have a number of technologies designed to extract waste heat from the home, which is mechanical ventilation and a heat recovery system – a fairly common piece of tech now [which] simply reacts like a heat exchanger [essentially a device designed to efficiently transfer heat from one place to another],” says McCloud.

Next level tech

When it comes to home tech, McCloud says one of the newer options is a monitor that tells you about the condition of your home’s air quality – such as the Amazon Smart Air Quality Monitor (£52.99, Amazon), which is easy to install through the Alexa app and cited as one of the cheapest available.

“It tells you what the nitrous oxide level is, or the carbon monoxide level, it tells you to open a window and explains why you might have a headache,” says McCloud.

Designs are evolving too in a bid to create appliances that are more energy-efficient than their predecessors – such as instant hot water taps. Photo by PA

Energy-efficient household appliances

The Energy Saving Trust suggests looking out for the energy label when buying new household appliances.

Appliances are tested for how much energy they use and given a rating on a scale of A to G – with A being the most efficient product in its class, and G being the least efficient. Some appliances use an older scale, from A+++ to G.

“It’s across the whole scale, from white goods and fridges that monitor their own performance, through to things like hot water taps, which are far more efficient than kettles,” says McCloud.

Grand Designs Live returns to Excel London from April 30 to May 8

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