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Top eco-friendly home improvements to carry out in 2014

Becoming energy efficient is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. Apart from saving the environment, it can also help you to save on energy bills, which will allow you to save money.

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Nowadays, saving money is at the forefront of everyone’s mind, as it’s vital that everyone is doing their bit for the planet. According to the latest statistics for 2014, show that greenhouse gas emissions in the UK actually decreased last year, in line with the targets the UK has for climate change and energy saving. The official figures set the decrease as 11.4 MtCO2e (2.0%) compared to the year up to quarter 3 2013, which shows that the work the government and the UK’s inhabitants are doing is clearly working.

It’s more important than many people realise that we begin to make the changes required in order to aid climate change, in whatever way we can. The impact of climate change in the UK shows that negative effects are already occurring, and so it isn’t just the next generation that will have to live with the issues we aren’t able to resolve now.

What are the effects of climate change in the UK?

It’s very difficult to precisely pinpoint what the UK has experienced in terms of climate change, as there are so many studies and tests being carried out at any one time. However, there are some clear findings that show that climate change is not positive.

Anyone in the UK will realise that the weather in this country has changed a lot in recent years, with drastic fluctuations in rainfall, snowfall and wind levels. This caused the terrible floods that plagued the country throughout Christmas 2013.

Statistics show that rainfall has decreased dramatically, with 2012’s rainfall being 8 per cent lower than average recorded levels taken for the period between 1961-1990. However, the reasons for this decrease in rainfall has been much speculated upon, as it could be due to rising levels in greenhouse gases, the effects of climate change, or simply because of weather cycles.

If you would like to become more eco-friendly, and change the ways you live in order to help the planet, there are many things that you can do. There are all kinds of solutions to making your home more eco-friendly, which we’ll cover in this blog.

Replace your old boiler

Old boilers are not energy efficient. As a boiler is responsible for around 60% of your energy bills, a new boiler can make your house very efficient. If your boiler is over 15 years old, then it is recommended that you replace it with a new one. Although the upfront cost of a boiler can be expensive, upgrading your boiler can cut your energy bills by a staggering £300 a year.

Buying a new boiler may seem like an unnecessary expense, especially if it isn’t broken, but it could save you a lot of money – and a lot of hassle – in the long-run. There’s nothing worse than leaving your boiler to the absolute last minute, and then having it break down on you at the worst possible time. This could be at Christmas, when family are visiting, or simply when you haven’t the money to get it replaced. If you take the plunge and upgrade your boiler before you technically need to, you’ll be able to get the most out of it for as long as possible.

Not only this, but new boilers also tend to be smaller, so you can hide it away in a cupboard. This is ideal for those that live in minimalistic homes and like to keep all of their appliances and other household items tucked away out of sight.

Replacing a boiler isn’t as big a task as it sounds either, as professionals will be able to help you to get everything sorted in no time at all.

Insulate your home

It is estimated that 40% of your home’s heat escapes through walls and ceilings. If you find that you constantly have the heat in your property turned up to the maximum level, but you aren’t ever able to heat your rooms to an adequate level, this could be the cause (although other causes can be to blame as well).

To prevent the heat from escaping your home, it is recommended that you insulate your ceilings, loft and walls, which can be done by a Conwy Valley Plumbing specialist today. By having this insulation added, you will be able to ensure your home consumes less energy, but that all of your home’s rooms are properly heated. You will drastically reduce the amount of electricity and fuel that your home uses which means your energy bills will be considerably lower, ultimately resulting in large savings.

Everyone wants to be able to save money at the end of the day, and by spending just a small amount of money (in the grand scheme of things) in order to save later on, you can really benefit.

Turn off taps

Using less water is another great way to save on the cost of your bills at the end of the month, while also doing your bit for the planet. There are lots of ways that you can reduce the amount of water you use, with many of them being very simple changes that won’t take much getting used to.

For example, one suggestion that a lot of people make is to turn the tap off when brushing your teeth, rather than letting it run while brushing. Switching to taking showers instead of baths, using a timer when in the shower to make sure you aren’t using more water than absolutely necessary, and visiting a commercial car wash to get your car cleaned, as they will recycle the water that’s used.

Saving water can be incredibly easy, and you’ll be surprised by how much your water bills reduce once you begin implementing new methods.

Invest in solar panels

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Solar panels are very popular as they allow you to generate your own electricity. This will allow you to cut down on your energy bills and save money.

There are a number of different types of solar panels that you could potentially invest in, depending on the type of house you own and how much energy you need to generate.

A lot of people worry that they won’t be able to get any benefit from solar panels, due to the lower levels of sunlight experienced in the UK when compared to other countries. However, solar panel technology is now so advanced that you don’t necessarily need direct sunlight in order for the panels to generate energy. However, if your home is in a particularly shaded area, you may not be suitable for energy saving solar panels. This is why Conwy Valley Plumbing will always conduct a survey before recommending any particular solar panels.

When investing in solar panels, you may even get a government grant to contribute to the cost of installing the panels. The type of grant you are provided will depend on whether or not you require them for commercial or domestic purposes.

Feed-in Tariff Scheme

One of the many grants available to UK solar panel users is the Feed-in Tariff Scheme, which allows you to receive money in return for installing and generating solar panel energy. You will even receive money back if you use the energy you generate yourself, as well as if you return it to the grid.

You may be eligible for the grant if you install any of the following:

  • Solar PV
  • Wind turbines
  • Hydroelectric products
  • Anaerobic digesters
  • Micro combined heat and power (CHP)

Solar panels can definitely be worth the cost if installed by a professional company, with the correct solar panel option chosen.

Double glazing

If your house has single glazed windows, it is estimated that up to 18 per cent of the household’s heat is lost through them. Double glazing ensures that most of the heat is retained inside the house, which means you will be able to maintain a comfortable temperature by using less energy.

Many homes in the UK still have single glazed windows, while other have part single and part double glazed windows throughout their home. Whichever the case may be, retaining single glazing can mean that you end up spending more on your energy than you need to each month.

Double glazed windows are also great for insulating against outside noise, such as passing traffic. In addition, it is estimated that double glazed windows will allow you to save £170 a year, which will certainly be useful!

Lighting

Everyone’s heard of energy saving lightbulbs, and while they’ve been completely implemented within the UK, there are still many households that leave lights on when they could be switched off. In order to decrease your electricity bill by a small amount, it is recommended that you replace any older light bulbs with energy efficient versions, which will help you to reduce the amount of energy you consume. Don’t this can save you over £100 a year.

Turning off lights when you leave the room is the first obvious step to reducing the amount of money you spend on your lighting. However, making sure you make the most of natural lighting will also help you in the long run. Make sure you keep your blinds or curtains open for as long as possible in order to maximise natural light.

Switch off

This is a very basic, yet effective method that is often overlooked. Leaving appliances on such as washing machines and TVs when they are not in use will contribute massively to your energy bill. By switching them off when you leave the room, you will be able to save around 20% on your energy bill.

It can take a little bit of getting used to, but working to remember to turn off appliances when you have finished them will become a habit before long. It’s important that the entire family gets into the habit of doing this, so that everyone does their bit to save energy.

A lot of people have the bad habit of putting appliances on standby rather than switching them off at the mains. While appliances on standby certainly don’t use up as much energy as ones that are switched on, the can still use a trickle of electricity that will add up on your energy bill when it comes through. You may not see a huge change, but it will help in the long run.

Saving energy needs to be something that absolutely everyone does, and something that everyone cares about. There’s always something that you can do within your home to make the most of energy saving techniques, whether this means switching off appliances when they aren’t in use or installing energy saving devices such as solar panels or wind turbines. Whichever technique you choose is bound to help you to save energy – and money, so you’ll get something in return for doing your bit for the planet.

Finding the right option for you can take a little bit of research and you’ll most likely need to chat with your family or partner about the changes you would like to make within your home, but they’ll likely breed very positive results. If you want to make a change for the better, try following some of the tips in this blog now.

What do you think of this blog? Can you think of any more eco-friendly home improvements to carry out this year? If so, please leave your comments below – we’d love to know your thoughts!

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