winter home improvement

6 Sustainable, Winter Home Improvement Projects

Winter home improvement projects

Image by RossHelen via iStock by Getty Images

To quote Game of Thrones’ Ned Stark, “Winter is coming”. For some, that simply means wrapping up warm when you leave the house. But, in the corners of the globe facing an energy crisis, it might also mean layering up indoors as prices rise.

As the chill factor closes in, most of us will want to get our homes as ‘winter-ready’ as they can be before the extreme temperatures of the frosty season beckons. So let’s dive into some sustainable winter home improvements to help you keep the cold at bay.

1. Installing a Smart Thermostat

Insulation is a key weapon in the battle against the cold and our sustainable DIY home insulation projects can help you make a huge difference to your energy bills. But once you have improved your home’s insulation, it’s important you also use your energy wisely to save further on bills.

Smart thermostats are a great innovation in the heating industry because they connect your heating to the internet to help you control it on the go.

You can program a smart thermostat remotely to turn the heating on or off in your home so no energy is wasted if you are running late or leaving early. Smart thermostats also allow for multi-room control, draught detection and vacation settings to keep your pipes from freezing over while you are away visiting family during the festive period.

2. Turning Your Attention to Secondary Buildings

There is more to our homes than the main living quarters. Many of us have a garage we use as an office or workshop and a porch that acts as a buffer to the outside. We can improve these buildings to better protect our main living area, while also improving how we enjoy and use them. Porches need insulation, otherwise the cold will find its way in eventually and they are often at risk of leaking roofs, so extra attention is required during wet and cold weather.

If your garage is your office, insulated doors reduce noisy distractions and further protect you from the cold. Renovating and redecorating your garage or home office can help you feel better about being in that space. This is particularly true as winter sets in and we start to feel the mental struggle brought on by seasonal affective disorder.

Creating and updating your spaces can help boost well-being as the act of decorating is a mindfulness activity and it also helps you feel more connected to your home. One of the latest sustainable design trends to consider is Japandi, which embraces minimalism and coziness while using renewable materials such as wool and bamboo.

3. Converting to a Green Roof

Installing a green roof in your home isn’t something you can do overnight. It can require some strengthening of your load-bearing walls and structures to cope with the additional weight they add to the top of your home. But, once installed, green roofs provide insulation and protection to help keep your home warm in winter while transforming the look of your property as it blooms in spring and summer.

Green roofs are sustainable as they help to clean the air from carbon dioxide while promoting biodiversity and preventing sewers from overflowing during heavy rain. They also stop the heat from escaping through your roof in the winter, keeping you and your family warmer with less energy.

4. Fitting an Air Source Heat Pump

Traditional gas and oil heating methods can provide a quick hit of warmth but can take significant levels of energy to convert. Air source heat pumps produce fewer emissions by giving out heat at lower temperatures over longer periods. The air source heat pump extracts renewable heat from the environment at a higher volume than the electricity required to run it.

This not only lowers carbon emissions but also helps reduce heating bills and even sell energy back to the grid depending on where you live. If you have an existing central heating system you can do a home improvement project to convert it into an air source heat pump to work perfectly with underfloor heating.

5. Installing Underfloor Heating

Whether you opt for an air source heat pump or not, it’s worth considering underfloor heating. Underfloor heating can be up to 20% more efficient than traditional heating systems over the life of the building, which rises to 30-50% for high-ceiling spaces.

This is perfect for regulating temperatures in larger rooms while operating at a lower temperature, making its energy use more efficient. Of course, this is a significant investment so it’s commonly a better option for those who are in their forever home to ensure you get a return on your investment.

6. Continue Tending to Your Garden

The frost might be biting at your fingers and toes but you can continue to work on your garden throughout the winter. Sure, your flowers might not be ready to bloom for months yet, but there are ways to stay active in the garden, remain connected to your outdoor space and embrace sustainability.

There are hardy vegetables like broccoli and cabbages that can grow throughout the winter, so consider getting your hands dirty and transforming your summer garden into a winter vegetable patch. Winter is also a great time to reset your compost heap, or start one if you haven’t yet and want the most fertile soil to use in the spring and summer. 

If you have little to start with it’s possible to begin a compost heap with leftover soil from your seasonal pots, the final grass clippings before winter, and fallen leaves or fruit. You may also wish to start preparing for next summer by collecting rainwater to use for watering your flowers or even for flushing your toilets to improve your home’s sustainability.

Get Your Home Winter-Ready

Our homes will remain a welcome hideaway from the bitter cold that winter brings with it. Thankfully, these six home improvement tips can help you have a warmer, more sustainable home this winter while also keeping an optimistic eye toward the following warmer seasons. Making their home more energy efficient is high on the priority list for many people, and here are some tips to also help you save money on your bills this winter.


  • Portella

    Also, remember to check your windows and do some repairs if needed. If windows in your home are old or poorly maintained, they can account for 25% of your energy bill.

  • Olivia

    Yes, a smart thermostat is a good thing to invest in, which can help you save up to 10% on utility bills. If you have an erratic and busy schedule, choose a thermostat with 7-day programming. This option lets you set different temperatures for each day of the week.

    If you work from home and spend most of the time there, consider a 1-week programming thermostat.

  • Tay

    Thanks for sharing this! If you have a smart thermostat, turning it down 10 degrees when you’re gone at work or sleeping at night can actually make a big difference. But! Remember that the temperatures shouldn’t be below 55 degrees even when the house is empty. Otherwise, it can bring a lot of trouble, including frozen pipes.

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