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Eco house design: how to create your green home

Whether you're designing a new build, renovating your existing home, or looking for environmentally-friendly upgrades, eco-house design and sustainability are hot topics for house builders now more than ever.

What is eco house design?

Eco house design, or sustainable house designs, are built and designed in a way that minimises their environmental impact.

This can typically be achieved by using materials and technology that:

  • Reduce the building’s carbon footprint
  • And increase its energy efficiency

But eco house designs aren’t limited to the classic Grand Designs eco house or the ‘gold standard’ energy-efficient Passive Houses. There are many ways you can make an existing property more environmentally friendly too, which we’ll also look at in this article.

Key features of an eco home:

Eco friendly house designs will normally include:

  • High levels of insulation
  • Renewable energy sources
  • Smart technology
  • Water conservation systems
  • Energy-efficient appliances
  • Sustainable materials
  • Natural light
  • Mechanical ventilation
  • Airtight building fabric

Low cost eco-friendly house designs and upgrades

While some homeowners dream of building an eco friendly house from scratch, there are plenty of ways to make your home more environmentally friendly with a more modest budget.


Insulating your loft, walls, and ceilings with an environmentally-friendly material, such as cellulose or sheep’s wool will make your home more energy efficient and save you money on your energy bills.

Check out our guide to understand the cost of insulating your home.

Renewable energy

Some of the most common ways to use renewable energy sources within the home include solar power, wind, the heat of the earth (geothermal), and plant materials (biomass).

Solar panels are a great way to generate free energy and reduce the carbon footprint of your home. However, they can be pricey to buy and install.

Heat pumps are a fantastic means to reduce your energy bills and make your home greener.

There are different types of heat pumps to choose from. These include:

A biomass boiler is a significant initial investment, with the supply and fit costing an average of £16,000, but the ongoing fuel costs are much lower. It’s worth comparing the costs of biomass boilers with others.

Smart technology

Smart technology gives you more control over your energy usage, helping to reduce your costs.

Items such as smart thermostats, smart lightbulbs, and smart appliances link to your personal devices to help improve the energy performance of your home.

Energy-efficient appliances

Energy-efficient appliances will help to save water, lower your energy costs, and reduce your carbon footprint.

Appliances are tested for how much energy they use during typical use and are graded on a scale of A to G. A is the most efficient and G the least.

The Energy Saving Trust is a great resource for learning more about the ins and outs of energy-saving home appliances.

Energy-efficient windows

This popular eco home improvement will not only reduce your energy consumption through better insulation, but it carries other benefits too.

Noise reduction, reduced condensation, and increased home value are all valid reasons to invest in this eco upgrade.

Find out more about choosing the best energy-efficient windows and the cost of this project.

Making small eco house plans more affordable

Retrofitting your existing property with more energy-efficient systems and measures is best tackled by a professional tradesperson.

Our guide to retrofitting a house to make it more energy-efficient explains the typical costs involved.

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To help reduce the cost of these projects, keep an eye on the energy grants available for eco-home improvements:

Building an eco friendly house

According to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, heating and powering buildings accounts for 40% of the UK’s total energy usage.

New building regulations have therefore been implemented to help work toward’s the government’s target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

How is modern eco house design more sustainable?

The good news is, many home builders now prioritise sustainability. Not just in the operation of the finished property, but the way in which it is constructed.

Whether it be small eco house plans, such as eco cottage plans or eco-friendly bungalow designs, or something grander, architects and designers will factor in the following considerations for a modern eco home:

An insulated and airtight structure

The first step to building an eco friendly house is to make sure your structure won’t leak heat. Materials such as brick and concrete will help to maintain an ambient internal environment and reduce energy consumption.

Powered by renewables

Next, map in renewable energy sources to heat and power your home in the most environmentally-friendly way.

Maximise natural light

Through clever planning and design, your architect can use windows to help reduce the need for artificial lighting.

Sustainable materials

For every aspect of your eco house, consider the sustainability of both the building materials and furniture.

Opt for natural materials, locally sourced where possible, that have official certification where sustainable claims are made.

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Nature-friendly house designs

The icing on the cake with your eco house design is to incorporate elements that are kind to flora and fauna.

A qualified landscape gardener can help you to design the optimum outside space for both you to enjoy and biodiversity to thrive.

A green roof is another great use of space that provides a natural habitat for plants, animals and insects. Find out more about the cost of green roofs.


How much does it cost to build an eco-house in the UK?

There are many variables that impact the cost of building an eco-house in the UK. We recommend getting quotes from qualified professionals

Are eco houses expensive to build?

Eco-houses can be expensive to build, but the initial investment will pay dividends in the long run. For example, solar panels will cost a fair sum to buy and install, but you’ll save money on your energy bills in the long run.

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