25 top tips to make your house an eco-friendly home
‘Green living’, ‘sustainability’, ‘carbon footprint’…all media buzzwords that you’ll have seen a lot but perhaps you haven’t yet made that change and ‘gone green’ yet. A lot of people are put off making changes to their home and lifestyle as they think it will be expensive or take a lot of time.
This is definitely not the case! While some bigger changes may cost you a bit at the outset they will more than likely end up saving you money in the long run. There are also a lot of things you can do that are quick, easy and won’t cost you a penny.
We’ve pulled together some of our favourite tips to making your home eco-friendly. Start giving them a try and let us know how you get on.
1. Switch off!
The most obvious point – and the simplest to start doing straight away. Turn off any appliances that aren’t in use. Properly turn them off too, don’t just pop them on to standby – doing that can use just as much energy as leaving them turned on!
Take a look around your home at all the appliances that are plugged in – televisions, computers, phone chargers…if any of them are on standby (or plugged into the wall but not being used in the case of chargers) that’s a lot of energy and money being wasted.
This goes for lights as well, if you leave a room (and no one else is in there of course!) then switch the light off.
It makes sense, on average according the Energy Saving Trust website a UK household spends around £45 – £80 per year powering electrical appliances in standby mode. That’s money for energy that isn’t being used!
2. Follow the 3 r’s rule – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
A large percentage of UK households still throw away things that can be recycled, including plastics, paper and glass.
Keep the 3 r’s in mind whenever you’re about to throw something away and you’ll find that your ‘ordinary’ rubbish is reduced, and you are recycling more and more waste.
Reduce – Cut down on the amount of waste you have in your home by cutting down on what you buy (always ask yourself if you actually need it) or donating any old, unwanted items to charity rather than just throwing them away
Reuse – Many household items can be used for a different purpose. Before throwing something away think about if it can be used again. Some obvious ones are carrier bags, jars, scrap paper and envelopes
Recycle – Recycling conserves natural resources and contributes towards improving the environment. A lot of packaging can now be recycled so take a look at the Recycling Guide website to find out all the handy hints!
3. Make your appliances energy efficient
Take a quick look around your home and you’ll see a large array of appliances – all using energy. When it comes to replacing appliances keep an eye out for the Energy Saving Trust sticker. This shows that the energy consumption of the appliance is below an agreed level.
Energy efficient models may cost you a little more to buy than appliances without the sticker but this is one of those cases where you may have to spend a bit more initially to save money over time.
4. Don’t waste that heat!
If you don’t have one already then install a timer to make sure the heating only comes on when you need it to – and isn’t being wasted. If there’s no one at home in the day then having radiators pumping out heat to an empty house is just a waste of energy and money.
5. Ditch those blinds
Change your blinds for curtains, and make sure you shut curtains at dusk. These are much better at stopping heat escaping through windows.
6. Get on your bike!
Before you leave the house have a think, do you really need to get in your car and drive to your destination?
Make the effort to ditch your car and use public transport, a bike or your own two feet at least one day a week and encourage everyone in your family to do the same. You also get the additional bonus of some extra daily exercise!
7. Meat free Mondays…
“Livestock is one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global.”
The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO)
It’s a sobering fact but the FAO estimates that livestock production alone is responsible for 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Other organisations have estimated that this figure could even be as high as 51%.
So what can we do to make a change? One simple way is to try going vegetarian just one day a week. This is a very doable way of starting to make a difference. The Meat Free Monday campaign is a great way to start or sign up for the National Vegetarian Week challenge, 19-25 May.
8. Dial down
Try turning the heating down by just one degree. This can significantly can help to reduce your household heating costs by around 10%! We can almost guarantee that you won’t even notice the very small difference in temperature either.
9. Brew time…
We all love a cup of tea or two every day – but when you’re making one be sure to only fill the kettle up with as much water as you need.
It’s surprising how many people will fill the kettle up to its maximum level for just one or two cups of tea. As an added bonus the kettle will take less time to boil, meaning you get your cup of tea that much quicker! Even better, get rid of that old kettle and replace it with an energy efficient one, saving you even more in electricity and energy!
10.Change your cleaning products
Make the switch to using green cleaning products. Many household cleaning products contain chemicals which can be harmful to both us and the environment.
Most cleaning products now offer an eco friendly alternative.
11. Low energy bulbs
Start making the change quickly and simply by switching ordinary, energy consuming light bulbs for energy efficient equivalents – keep an eye out for the Energy Saving Trust sticker.
The new bulbs may be more expensive to buy initially but they last longer and you’ll end up saving money in the long run.
Reducing the length of your shower by just two minutes can conserve litres of water every year.
13. Refill your water bottles
Nearly 90% of plastic water bottles still aren’t being recycled – that’s a huge amount of additional waste.
Instead of buying a new bottle of water every day keep hold of your empty bottle and refill it with tap water.
Have a quick peek inside your fridge…can you see the food and milk in there or is there a thick covering of ice resembling the Arctic?
If your fridge looks like the perfect home for penguins then you need to start defrosting it asap.
Once you’ve solved the problem quickly then get thinking about purchasing a more energy efficient fridge – one with a great energy efficiency rating!
15. Get insulating!
If you don’t have it already then installing wall insulation will make a big difference to your energy bills – a huge 35% of heating energy is lost through uninsulated walls.
You may have to pay for installation but you might be entitled to a government grant to assist you. Take a look at the Money Saving Expert website to find out if you can get help.
The Green Deal can be used for a lot of energy saving installations in your home, from double glazing to new boilers and underfloor heating.
16. The power of sunshine
We’ve said it once, but we’re going to say it again…sometimes spending a bit more is well worth it in order to save a bit (or a lot) more in the long run.
Solar panelling is a great way of harnessing the natural energy of the sun.
In a nutshell, solar panels on your roof capture sunlight and convert it to free energy for your home.
The sun is an infinitely renewable energy source and best of all it’s extremely reliable – we’re not going to run out of sunlight, unlike other energy sources! Take a look at solar heating sources, or give us a call at Conwy Valley Plumbing, and we can help with any queries.
17. It’s a little bit chilly in here…
One of the cheaping and most efficient ways of saving energy is to start draught proofing your house.
You may be able to get help from the government for draught proofing your home. Take a look at the Green Deal to find out more.
18. Heat pump
Heat pumps source energy from an alternative source, instead of using gas or electricity.
There are two different kinds of heat pump available:
Ground source pumps – These use pipes buried in the garden to extract heat from the ground. Underneath the surface ground tends to stay at a constant temperature all year round so there’s no need to worry about using it in the middle of a cold winter!
Air source pumps – This kind absorbs heat from the outside air, using it to heat radiators, underfloor heating systems and hot water in your house. Even when the temperatures are low (as low as 15 degrees) heat can still be extracted so they can be used effectively all year round.
19. Save those trees
Use recycled paper whenever possible and make sure you recycle any paper waste.
20. Warm those toes up
Invest in underfloor heating – it can be a lot more effective at heating your home and you can increase your usable space by up to 15% just by getting rid of radiators!
The government’s Green Deal may be able to help you with the costs of installing underfloor heating.
21. Ditch those plastic bags!
Did you know that carrier bags can take around 400 years to downgrade? Shocking isn’t it!
Start using bags for life (available from pretty much every supermarket now) and re-use any carrier bags you already have as much as you possibly can.
22. Green living in the garden
There’s loads you can do in the garden to be eco-friendly, but here are a few of our favourites to get you started with:
Start a compost heap
Use organic or natural pesticides
Use a barrel or water butt to collect rainwater
Attract wildlife – one of the best ways to do this is to install a pond, or create a beautiful wildflower area.
23. Stop the leaks
Make sure you turn taps off when you’re not using them – especially when brushing your teeth. If you have any leaking or dripping taps then fix them as soon as you can.
24. Stop those paper bills
The majority of suppliers and banks will let you change your bills and statements from paper to online.
Not only will you be saving tonnes of paper each year, you’ll get less post to sort through and you may even find it that by doing everything on the computer you find it easier to stay organised. It will cost you nothing to change over so give your supplier / bank a call today and make the switch!
25. Shop local
Have a think about how much pollution is created just to get your food from the production line to your table. It’s a lot!
Start visiting local farmer’s markets to buy your fresh fruit and veg from, it’ll taste fantastic, you’ll be supporting your local economy and helping to reduce the greenhouse gases that are created when food products are transported around the country or the world.
So there we have it, our top tips to help you make your home eco-friendly. Give them a try and let us know how you get on!
So, have you tried out any of these handy hints? How are your energy saving efforts going? Do you have any other top tips for our readers? Let us know!