For many home owners, making the necessary changes to become eco-friendly can seem like a daunting position. On the contrary, it's actually surprising how simple sustainable living can be, from changing the style of light bulb to starting a compost heap in the back garden. Sustainability and energy-efficiency should also be taken into account when extending or renovating the home, by choosing the materials and products you use, it's possible to see a massive reduction in energy bills and your home's carbon footprint. For the home owners themselves it's these small steps that can go a large way towards building a clearer conscience.
Here are some top tips on how to make your home greener, with a variety of short and long term savings:
Insulation and Geothermal heating
One of the most cost-effective ecological improvements you can make is to insulate your home. On average an annual saving of £135 per year is expected by installing effective floor, wall and roof insulation. A more niche idea, yet one that is gaining popularity on a yearly basis is geothermal heating. By installing a geothermal system into your home, also known as a ground source heat pump or geo-exchange system, it's possibly to heat your home using entirely different means.
Geothermal energy only works in certain geographies, so it's important to see if it would be a viable option for your area. The term 'geothermal system' is actually a misnomer as it implies generating heat from the earth. In reality geothermal heat pumps, once installed, capitalize and pull a steady temperature from the ground or water wells deep underground. They also deposit heat for storage, pulling however much is needed depending on a number of variables including time of year. There can be a number of different configurations to these systems, but regardless of type, geothermal energy is considered one of the most efficient means of heating and cooling.
Refresh your appliances
Appliance use generally forms around 18% of the final monthly electricity bill. Any appliances over 10 years old are likely using anywhere between 10 - 50% more energy than a modern day equivalent. Renewing an old fridge for example can save you as much as approximately £100 per year in electricity. A good tip to keep in mind when buying new appliances is to look for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 'Energy Star' logo. Appliances that have been qualified with this stamp are guaranteed to be highly energy efficient.
Using Water wisely
When saving water, simple behavioural changes can add up quickly. Using a broom to sweep the drive instead of clearing it with hose can save up to 80 gallons of water a year, likewise turning off the tap whilst you brush your teeth saves around 4.5 gallons.
There are also products you can use around the house to stem the flow of water. Installing a aerator on all the household taps cuts consumption by a massive 50%. Installing a newer model of toilet, using a low-flow system will use around 1.6 gallons per flush in comparison with the normal 3.5. Any older toilets with a flat valve can also be adjusted to fill their tanks with less water for each use.
It's important to remember that the best way to be eco-friendly is to begin by looking inwards at your day to day life, and generally try to consume less and recycle whenever possible. To be green, you've got to be efficient, so start with the little changes and build from there.
Photo credits: energyinformative.org