How to make your home eco-friendly

How to make your home eco-friendly

26th Apr, 2016

Making your home more energy efficient will help to lower its’ impact on the environment and can save you money. Here are some changes you can make to your house that will ease your eco conscience.

Turn up the heat

Underfloor heating is often considered a luxury associated with newbuild homes, but it can be installed in older properties too. Installing under floorboard insulation can save you around £50 per year and getting rid of radiators will free up precious space in your home. Older homes are more likely to have suspended timber floors, these can be insulated by lifting the floorboards and laying mineral wool insulation.

Heat rises, so insulate your loft. For extra eco brownie points, always use natural or recycled materials where possible. Homeowners should recoup the cost of loft insulation, about £250-£300 in a standard house, within two to three years. Fill cavity walls with insulation, as uninsulated cavity walls can be almost as wasteful as uninsulated lofts. Buy an inexpensive tube of sealant (readily available in DIY stores) and fix gaps and draughts around skirting boards and floors yourself.

A draught coming down your chimney is an indicator that energy is being wasted. Consider making use of padded draught-excluders - not the most stylish purchase you’ll ever make, but certainly an eco-friendly and money saving option.

Replace single-glazed windows with double-glazed ones. Choose wood-framed windows rather than UPVC or metal. They are more expensive than the UPVC that many domestic window frames are made from, however you will reap rewards in the form of improved insulation. The wood frames are easier to repair, will last a lifetime and are less polluting (UPVC emits toxic compounds). To further improve the benefits of your double glazed windows, replace your blinds with something more substantial; thick curtains will help to keep the heat in. 

Conserve water and energy

By installing a solar water heating system you can use heat from the sun to warm hot water, though to bring the water to a comfortable temperature during the winter, you may also need to use your boiler. This kind of system will reduce your energy bill and lower your carbon footprint over the long-term. Fit an aerated or low-flow shower head to save water and remember to spend a minimal amount of time in the shower to save money and the planet. And have you ever turned on your hot tap and scalded yourself? Turning your thermostat down by just one degree Celsius will save you around £60 per year.

Keep your boiler serviced and replace it with a more up-to-date model when you can. Boilers available nowadays are significantly more efficient than older designs. It’s a good idea to renew your boiler every 10 years or so.

Buy an eco-kettle. Most kettles use a substantial amount of electricity. Eco-kettles are more energy-efficient and compulsive tea drinkers will find themselves saving money in the long run by upgrading to a green model. 

If you make the move to energy saving lightbulbs, you can save up to £30 a year on your electricity bill. They typically use 75% less electricity to generate the same level of light as the old fashioned kind.

Renovate, decorate and furnish responsibly

If you’re concerned about the distance that your food has had to travel before it’s on your plate, apply the same philosophy to making improvements to your home. Always aim to use locally sourced or supplied building materials and local tradesmen. And if you’re in the process of  renovating or building, ask your builder to reduce rubbish and recycle to avoid sending more waste to landfill. 

When kitting out your property, buy furniture made from recycled materials and investigate sources of second-hand furniture and fittings such as eBay and charity shops. Most paints used in homes are oil-based and therefore less energy-efficient. Instead, use water-based paints with natural pigments to paint your walls. The bonus is that water-based paints are often much more aesthetically appealing. 

The Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) gives you information on a property's energy use and CO2 emissions, so it’s worth checking out the EPC of a house or flat you are looking to buy or rent. Properties are graded from A (most energy-efficient) to G (least energy-efficient) and the average score is currently D.

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