How to make a more eco-friendly home
Islands of plastic floating in the ocean. Rising sea levels and erratic weather conditions. Landfill cities populating our earth. While the call to being more eco-friendly is not new, perhaps one or all of these reasons are prompting you to consider your own eco-friendly status and whether you could live in a more environmentally-aware way. There are a few things we can do on a micro level to make a more eco-friendly home and impact our environmental footprint. Here are a few ideas.
Ok, so we live in a country where it rains a LOT. But water is a precious resource and just because it’s “free” doesn’t mean we should waste it, so take some time to really think about your water usage. You’ll be surprised at the volume of water you go through in a week from doing the dishes to showering, washing your clothes to watering the plants. Start with fixing any leaks you’ve noticed around the house. Try not to leave the tap running when you’re brushing your teeth or shaving and if you can. Think about installing a low flow shower head in all bathrooms (this can save you thousands of litres of water per household).
Installing a smart meter in your home will make an immediate difference, both to your monthly bill and to the energy that you use as a household. Smart meters can be programmed so that heating is on only during the times you choose. It’s easy to leave heating on longer than we need so this is a simple way to decrease your carbon footprint while also reducing your monthly outgoings.
Have a look at how well insulated your home is. Preventing energy and heat leaving the home will have a positive effect on reheating the building and cutting down your energy bills. Think of the image of a snowy street of houses, with the snow melting off rooves – that’s where your expensive heat is being lost. Investing in wall and roof insulation as well as double glazed windows makes a huge difference. Small extras like lined curtains, blinds, and rugs over hardwood floors can also improve heat insulation, keeping your home warm, and your energy bills lower.
Solar panels are often seen as essential for an energy efficient home. Offering you completely clean energy and often creating enough to sell back to the national grid and increase your income slightly, they have been very attractive over recent years. The investment in installation is however significant, with some experts suggesting that it can take 20 years to recoup your initial investment. However it’s worth having a look into what local schemes are available to you in particular if you are engaging in a new build. If you’re in for the long-haul, some of these incentives can make the investment very worthwhile indeed.
Next up, light bulbs. Have a walk around your home and make a mental list of your light fixtures. Thrilling? No. But switching your light bulbs to energy efficient LEDs can make a huge difference to your electricity bills. Again, the outlay on energy efficient bulbs may cost more initially, but they last several years longer so overall the energy savings are worth it (plus think of all that time up a ladder changing bulbs you’ll save yourself). Make the switch gradually to ease the pain – stick one new LED bulb in your big shop once a month and you’ll soon have them all switched over.
Laundry: Using the tumble dryer uses a huge output of energy, so wherever possible, line dry your clothes if you can. And did you know that clothes last longer when line-dried: that’s a double win!
Try and fill your dishwasher completely before you run a cycle. Or if you have a smart machine, you could make use of a half-load setting to preserve energy and keep your costs low.
Why not pump something good into your home atmosphere with the help of a few friendly houseplants? Bring a couple of big leafy pot plants into your home, take good care of them (ie water regularly!) and know that they are turning nasty Co2 into wonderful O2 when you’re not even looking.
We all have council bins now, so no excuse. If you designate areas for your recycling inside, it’s far more likely that you will recycle your glass, paper, and green goods if you can allocate them through the day.
If you have space in the garden, you can use your green waste to help make compost for the garden.
Packaging-free shops are opening up all over the UK. Have a look in your local area and see whether you can take your own containers to purchase dry goods and cut down on the packaging you bring into your home.
Make use of natural products as cleaning fluids instead of purchasing harmful chemical equivalents. Substitute your brand name cleaners for vinegar, citric acid, and bicarbonate of soda versions and you’ll not only get a gold environmental tick but you’ll save yourself money.
Don’t forget the push for reusable items. We should all have our Keep Cups and our reusable water bottles so make sure you use them as often as you can. Choose Tupperware over cling film and tin foil and take your reusable shopping totes to the supermarket to be sure you’re doing everything you can.