10 Ways to Make your Home Greener
From saving energy to second-hand furniture – we list ten of the easiest ways to green up your home…
Watch your water consumption
It’s not only energy that needs conserving: a truly eco-friendly home needs to look at its water consumption habits and hardware too. If you’re a keen bather then replace as many baths as you can with showers, which use far less water – and a low-flow shower-head will allow you to make even bigger gains, saving up to 160,000 litres of water a year for a family of four. Or save six litres of water a minute simply by turning off the tap when you brush your teeth or shave. And keep up with your DIY – a leaky tap throws some 60 litres of water down the drain every week.
Install a smart meter
Heating is one of the biggest energy uses in the home, and it’s all too easy to leave it on for longer than you actually need it, especially when there’s a winter chill in the air. Stop wasting energy and money by installing a smart meter that you can programme to turn on at certain times of the day, or control remotely with an app. Programming your heating to go on only when you actually need it, such as just before you get up in the morning or just before you get home is a smart way to reduce your carbon footprint without sacrificing comfort.
Install energy efficient light bulbs
A simple bulb swap in your house can make a big energy saving, with LED lights up to 80 per cent more efficient than halogen bulbs. Not only do energy efficient bulbs use less electricity, they also last longer, which means you don’t have to spend money replacing them so it’s a win-win – plus with energy efficient bulbs available in all wattages and hues you can create exactly the same ambience with them. Take things further and make your lights dimmable and you’ll save a further 20 percent on energy use too.
Switch to renewable energy tariffs
Changing your energy supplier to one that is 100 percent renewable is now an easy way to make your home greener. Many providers will do all the heavy lifting for you – you just sign up to change and they will take care of liaising with your current provider and ensuring that the service is transferred seamlessly. You can save money as well as the earth as well, with many green tariffs now cheaper than those based on non-renewable energy sources.
Wear a jumper
Even if your energy sources are renewable it still makes sense to conserve them as much as possible. Your mum may well have been right when she told you to ‘put on a jumper on’ – it’s a low-tech way to make a surprisingly big impact. Studies show that if everyone in the UK reduced their thermostat setting by one degree and delayed turning their heating on in winter by one extra month we could collectively save the output of a medium-sized power station.
Embrace natural cleaning products
Get rid of harmful chemicals and harsh cleaning products in your environment and return to more natural products (and a bit of elbow grease). Either purchase cleaning products that are made out of biodegradable ingredients that will do the job without polluting your air or the water supply – or else fall back on time-tested solutions for cleaning tasks. Vinegar, citric acid from citrus fruits and bicarbonate of soda have all been used as effective cleaning agents for decades – and can be used in place of caustic chemicals for wiping surfaces, sorting out gunky cooking pans, unblocking drains, freshening air and general all-round cleaning.
Around 35 percent of a house’s heat loss happens through the walls and 25 per cent through the roof, so one of the smartest ways to improve your home’s eco-friendliness is to insulate. Good insulation helps to hold in the heat, reducing your energy output and subsequently your bills – and it can be relatively inexpensive to install. The remaining 40 per cent of household energy is lost through doors, windows and floors – with double glazing helping the former, and the use of thick area rugs helping to mitigate the latter if you have concrete floors or floorboards.
Create your own compost
Don’t waste your kitchen scraps and leftover food – turn them into compost. Much of the food that you currently throw away can be recycled by diverting it from the regular bin to a compost bin in your garden. And food waste is not the only thing that can be composted; paper, eggboxes, pizza boxes and tissues can all be put in to decay, cutting the amount going into landfill and creating a nutrient rich addition to your soil that will make your flowers and vegetables even happier in turn.
Buy recycled or second hand
Support the circular economy and buy recycled products whenever you can. These can include the obvious everyday products – such as toilet tissue or kitchen roll – but also larger and more permanent things you might not have considered, from reconditioned mobile phones to gaming consoles and curtains to upcycled furniture. Buying things second-hand is another great choice to cut down on waste and give new life to an object, with plenty of preloved household items of all types to buy on sites such as eBay, Gumtree and local Facebook buy and sell groups.