Learning how to make your home eco-friendly doesn’t have to be difficult. Living sustainably is a growing trend because it offers financial and environmental benefits. Read on for simple changes you can make in your home so that your space is more environmentally friendly. These changes are life-changing and easy!
Table of Contents
Why should I care about reducing my carbon footprint?
There are a lot of reasons to care about reducing your carbon footprint. From a practical perspective, reducing your carbon emissions can save you money. You can also save on energy costs and be healthier. You can save up to 30% on energy costs by using energy efficiently.
Another reason is that we all need to do our part to reduce emissions and help fight climate change. According to the Committee on Climate Change, 40% of the UK’s emissions come from our homes. So our homes play an important role in reducing the impact on the planet.
How can you make your home more eco-friendly?
The best way to start making your home eco-friendly is by carrying out a home audit. Look at your costs for heat, light and water, then review all the ways these resources are used in your home. You will need to work out your average costs so you can see where you can make changes.
To start your home audit, you will need to know if your energy and water consumption is above or below average. You can find out more about your household energy consumption by going to UK power. In summary, the average household consumption is:
- The average consumption of gas is 12,000 kWh (or 1,000 kWh per month)
- The average consumption of electricity is between 2,900kWh to 4,200kWh (or 350kWh per month) that’s like boiling your kettle around 110 – 175 times in a month!
Using a green energy supplier is a great way to help combat global warming. Green energy suppliers use renewable energy as part of their energy supply. Energy from renewable sources means using fewer fossil fuels. Unfortunately, the recent hike in gas and oil prices has led to many of them going out of business. The knock-on effect is that energy costs have gone up. This is why so many of us are now seeking alternative ways of cutting utility bills.
After you have calculated your gas, electricity and water costs, you can find ways to save money.
Environmentally Friendly Heating
Heat escapes through windows, doors and walls. So you need to avoid heat escaping from the building itself as well as inside the building. You can keep heat in with cavity wall insulation and loft insulation. You also reduce carbon dioxide emissions too.
If you live in an older property, you are unlikely to have cavity walls. But, you can still insulate your home – your insulation would be added to the external solid walls. External insulation, with loft insulation, can really help with your home’s energy efficiency and reduce your bills.
Most houses in the UK have gas central heating. Turning your thermostat or radiators down is a great way to save money and save energy.
There are alternative ways of heating your home. For example, an air source heat pump that uses electricity rather than gas. They cost around £6,000 to install and significantly reduce fuel bills. There are other heating systems (solar thermal pumps or underground heat pumps) that also provide hot water. These systems provide low carbon heating which is good for your pocket and the environment.
Keeping in the heat
Many of us control our central heating with room heating controls. You could opt for smart heating controls. Using an IoT(“internet of things”) smart thermostat is a great way of using technology for regulating indoor temperature.
Draught proofing around windows and doors all help to keep your home warm in the winter months. You lose up to 25% of the heat when a home has inefficient insulation. If you can keep the heat in, you can turn down your thermostat, save money and reduce emissions too!
You can add draught-proofing such as brush strips or draught excluders at the bottom of doors. You can consider including a letterbox brush cover too. Using thermal curtains and blinds also helps as well as an underlay for carpets and rugs.
You also need to consider your boiler and water tank. By reducing the temperature of your boiler and putting a jacket on your water tank, you make further reductions in heating costs.
Did you know that ‘living walls’ of plants can help reduce heating costs by 30%? A recent study showed that adding plants to a building’s exterior to create a green wall, actually helped retain heat. Although it was not part of the study, we suspect the plants also took CO2 out of the atmosphere too.
Electricity in your eco-friendly home
You may lucky enough to live in a house with solar panels and be in receipt of the government feed-in tariffs. If not, and you own your home then you could install solar panels to generate electricity. They don’t need direct sunlight to work – they can work on cloudy days too!
The feed-in tariffs (essentially paid people for providing solar power to the national grid) finished in 2019. For renewable energy owners, the new scheme is called the Smart Export Guarantee. There is also the Green Deal which provides information on how you can make energy-saving changes to your home.
Many may feel that as the higher standard tariff has finished, there is not much of a financial incentive to provide energy to the grid. However, you would have considerably lower bills. Anyone considering solar power might also consider battery storage for days when energy is overproduced.
If like most of us, you do not have the benefit of solar power then there are other ways to reduce energy costs.
Energy Company Obligations (ECO) scheme.
Did you know Ofgem requires energy companies to help with fuel poverty and reducing carbon emissions? Ofgem set up the Energy Company Obligations scheme. The scheme helps vulnerable households heat their homes and can include replacing a broken heating system or loft insulation. Government grants may also be available to help reduce the cost of making changes to your home so you can reduce your carbon footprint.
How much does it cost to make my home eco-friendly?
Any internal changes will depend on your budget, but it is possible for most homeowners with an older house or a smaller budget to make some eco-friendly updates.
Install LED lights in your house to reduce energy consumption
LED lights to use about 80% less energy than traditional incandescent light bulbs, so they’re a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and save money on your energy bill at the same time. There are a lot of different LED light options available now, so it’s easy to find the right ones for your home.
Also, don’t forget about other types of energy-efficient lighting – including Compact Fluorescent light bulbs and natural light from windows! You should always choose the option that makes sense in your home and gives you the best value for what you’re paying.
You also need to take full advantage of energy-efficient appliances. However, be aware that some electrical appliances like a tumble dryer use significant amounts of energy.
Appliances are given a rating for energy use on a scale from A- G with A (or A+++ on the old scale) being the most energy-efficient. The Energy Saving Trust has a great guide on energy efficient appliances. The key takeaway is that you should check the label of any appliance before buying it.
Other simple behaviours like turning off lights when they’re not in use can make a real difference to your pocket and the planet. By making these small changes, you can help make your home more eco-friendly and save money on your energy bills.
Reducing Water Usage
Reducing your water usage can also reduce your water bills. For example, taking showers instead of baths saves water, as does installing a water-efficient showerhead.
Toilet flushing uses a huge amount of water. According to Ofwat, you can save between up to three litres of water by putting a brick or hippo bag in the cistern.
You can also save water, (energy and money) with your appliances by only running a full load of laundry (or dishes).
And don’t leave the tap running while brushing your teeth or washing dishes – turn it off when you’re not using it! You can save up to 6 litres per minute.
Also, check for leaks – a dripping tap can waste enough water to fill a paddling pool for weeks.
Consider the types of furniture you buy – for example, wooden furniture is more eco-friendly than plastic
The key is to choose natural materials, sustainable materials or recycled materials. Some good choices are bamboo, cork, wool and natural fibre (cotton, flax, hemp and Jute).
You can also use recycled glass tiles or stone tiles. For wooden furniture, choose wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council or reclaimed timber.
Use natural cleaning products to clean your home instead of chemical ones
Chemical cleaners can release harmful toxins into the air and they can also be harmful if ingested. Natural products are better for the environment and they’re often just as effective as chemical cleaners.
You can make your own natural cleaning products using ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, and essential oils. These ingredients are all non-toxic and won’t leave chemical residue in your home.
If you’re already using natural cleaning products, make sure you’re refilling them instead of throwing away the container every time you need to use it. This reduces waste and can help save money too!
The costs of using natural cleaners are generally really low as many ingredients (like vinegar and baking soda) may already be in your kitchen cupboard instead. Buying special products for cleaning can be a waste of money.
Which green cleaning options work best for your eco-friendly home?
It’s important to remember that everyone has different needs, so the best green cleaning options for you might not work for someone else. Consider all of your available options and find the ones that fit your lifestyle and your budget. Keep your ingredient list simple.
Green cleaning ingredients list:
- White vinegar
- Bicarbonate of soda
- refillable spray bottle
- essential oils (lavender, tea tree)
- old t-shirts/ cloths
Other eco-friendly lifestyle changes:
- Buy recycled/eco-friendly toilet paper.
- Use eco-friendly laundry detergent.
- Try to buy organic produce when possible – these are not only good for the environment but great for your health too!
Reduce your Waste
Avoid disposable items like paper towels and cups if possible; they are bad for the environment because they don’t break down easily. Using re-useable products like tea cloths reduce waste and if they are made from organic materials like bamboo or cotton, they can be composted when you have finished with them.
Recycling rates in the UK are not great. The single-use plastic bottle is probably the most used yet the most despised item across the planet. The chemicals used in plastic bottles are incredibly harmful to us and the environment. Research indicates that we are throwing away around 360 million tons of plastic waste per year!
Apart from eating too much, we are also wasting food too. We waste around 9.5 million tonnes of food per year which equates to 25 million tonnes of CO2 emissions! By cutting your household’s food waste, you could save up to £500 per year and help to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
Eating a plant-based diet also reduces carbon emissions. The added bonus is that plant waste can be composted, potentially to help you grow your own fruit and vegetables or to help your garden plants flourish.
Recycle everything you can!
Unfortunately, we have a number of different recycling systems in the UK so the level of recycling you can do depends on the area you live in. However, you can set up your own recycling bins to separate waste into paper, plastic, metal and glass.
You might even be able to recycle food packets. In some areas, supermarkets like Tescos and Co-op are accepting plastic wrappings back into their stores. There are also schemes that help charities raise funds such as the crisp packet recycling scheme. There are over 1,600 public drop-off locations where you can recycle your crisp packets.
How do you make an old house eco-friendly?
There are many ways to make an older home more environmentally friendly. One of the most important actions is to add insulation to the walls and in the roof. You can also add energy-efficient windows and doors, as well as a new heating system.
If you are thinking about selling your home in the future, you may want to consider making it as eco-friendly as possible. If an older house does not meet environmentally friendly standards, you may find it difficult to sell your house in the future.
Any changes you make can be completed in stages. Start with one room and slowly move through every space until it has been updated. Whether you are planning to stay in your home for many years or are looking to sell it, making changes to make your home more eco-friendly, will increase its value on the market.
Will my bills be lower?
If you choose energy-efficient products and use energy efficiently (e.g. turning off appliances when they are not being used) then your bills will reduce.
There are other potential savings but many involve an initial investment e.g. adding solar panels or wind turbines in order to generate your own electricity.
Eco-friendly living – outside the home
Living sustainably also includes what we do outside the home. For example, you might consider eco-tourism for your holidays. Eco-Tourism is becoming more and more popular. It is a form of alternative tourism that strives to be environmentally friendly, culturally sensitive and socially responsible with respect for different cultures. It provides direct financial gain to local people instead of large companies who profit from conventional tourism.
Conclusion: How to make your home eco-friendly?
Energy efficiency is the key to making your home eco-friendly. By making changes to your energy, water and food use, you can reduce your energy bills and help combat climate change. In summary:
- Complete a home audit – check your bills
- Easy actions like draughtproofing can lower your heating bills
- Energy efficient lighting can lower your electricity bills
- Energy efficient appliances will lower your bills
- Turn off lights and appliances when you are not using them
- Make small changes to reduce water use to save money
- Use organic materials e.g. for furniture and flooring
- Natural cleaning chemicals are cheap and easy to use
- Reduce your waste by avoiding single use plastic
- Reuse items such as cloth shopping bags
- A plant based diet reduces carbon emissions
- Consider eco-tourism to support habitats abroad
Have you got any tips? Comment below and let us know what ideas you have for making your home eco-friendly