When it comes to our living spaces and lifestyle choices there are two distinct trends which have gained considerable traction over the past few years. The first is a shift from the traditional bricks and mortar idea of living – with alternatives such as vans and shipping container homes rapidly increasing in popularity. The second is the adoption of environmentally friendly lifestyle choices by more people than ever before – with people choosing to cycle to work, reducing their plastic usage, growing their own food and ultimately trying to minimise their negative impact on our environment.
Creating a home using recycled shipping containers is one way to reduce your carbon footprint, after all, as the name suggests these building blocks are recycled and repurposed. But are they really environmentally friendly? And if so, how can they be made to be as energy efficient as possible?
Ways to make your shipping container home energy efficient
Homes built from upcycled shipping containers require no bricks, mortar or other traditional building materials so you might assume without question that they are green, completely environmentally friendly and sustainable. Of course this is only half of the story. Houses built from used shipping containers still require power, insulation, lighting, cooking and sanitary facilities. How these basic requirements are met ultimately dictates the overall energy efficiency and eco friendliness of these shipping container homes.
Recycled building materials
Although shipping container homes do not require the use of many traditional building materials they do need structural reinforcement (for windows, doors etc. or when connecting multiple containers) which is typically found in the form of steel beams. Thankfully steel is 100% recyclable and is in fact one of the most environmentally friendly building materials with more than 80% of steel beams being made from scrap.
Effective insulation and airtightness
Recycled shipping containers are built without regard for insulation, their sole purpose having been to store and protect goods destined to traverse the harsh ocean environment. Poorly insulated buildings are far less energy efficient than well insulated and airtight buildings.
By improving the thermal efficiency and airtightness it’s possible to greatly increase the energy efficiency of a shipping container home, creating considerable financial savings and reducing the carbon emissions related to the heating and cooling of a property. Using natural and sustainable insulation such as wool, straw, cork or hemp is another way to improve the environmental friendliness of a shipping container home.
Renewable energy sources
We are currently heavily reliant on the use of fossil fuels for much of our energy, which as we know are highly unsustainable, far from environmentally friendly and huge creators of pollution. Conversely, renewable sources of energy such as solar and wind are not only environmentally friendly, but far more energy efficient as they create energy which can be used and reused without requirement of an exhaustible element.
Technology has advanced considerably since the first solar panels and wind turbines, and it is now absolutely feasible to power a home using only renewable energy – whether it’s a one container tiny house or a large property built using four shipping containers.
Smart gadgets and appliances
Known as the phantom load, or vampire draw, appliances and devices left on ‘standby’ mode can potentially account for up to 30% of our energy usage according to some sources. Old and outdated devices are the biggest culprits, and by choosing to update these to modern, and where possible ‘smart’ alternatives you could significantly improve the energy efficiency of a shipping container house. These are some of our favourite energy saving smart gadgets:
LED lightbulbs require considerably less energy (up to 75%) than traditional incandescent and halogen light bulbs, and also tend to have a longer lifespan (25,000 hours vs 2000 hours).
According to Google, their smart thermostat (Nest) can save UK customers between 8.4 – 16.5% on their heating’s energy use, whilst Tado claim their thermostat represents savings of up to 31%.
Infrared heating panels
Because infrared heaters convert almost 100% of the electricity required to power them into heat they are one of the most efficient heat sources. It’s estimated that switching from conventional radiators to infrared heaters could result in savings of up to 60% on heating bills.
Get in touch
Seaspace International Forwarders are global freight forwarding specialists. We transport a huge range of products by land, sea and air freight for a wide range of industries and provide full door-to-door supply chain solutions with services including customs clearance, warehouse storage, distribution and consultancy. If you would like to speak about your shipping requirements, call us today on 01293 554620, or complete our online contact form.