Over the past decade, we have all become much more aware of our impact on the environment. The cars we are buying, our shopping habits and the lifestyles we lead, are all now influenced by an attempt to be eco-friendlier. Then why should not our house also be eco friendly.
A recent study found that 71.4% of shoppers now take the environmental impact of their choices into account when they purchase food and other groceries. That number was marginally lower for clothing and footwear, sitting at 64.2%. But the evidence is clear. The question is: how can we do more? Well, we can start at home by making sure we look at making a series of changes that will reduce our carbon footprint and help the environment.
Here are five simple ways to create an eco friendly house.
1. Install a smart meter or a smart hub
Your heating is one of your major sources of energy use. During cold winters, we can slip into bad habits and leave our heating on for much longer than is necessary. This can lead to high energy bills and wasted energy.
You can combat this in two ways. The first is to have a smart meter installed. This provides a visual indication of the energy you are using every day and allows your utility company to reflect the savings you make as a result, in your bills.
The second way to make a change is to have a smart home system installed. Systems such as Hive can be controlled by your voice on Alexa or Google Home, for example, or through an app on your smartphone. These systems are so advanced that they can now detect when you and your partner have left your home and switch off the heating when you do so.
Before you set off for home or work, you can command the system to come on and warm the house up to a certain temperature for your arrival. It saves you money and, crucially, it also saves energy.
2. Create your own compost
It is so easy to sweep leftover food or kitchen scraps into your rubbish bin. It is easy to do, convenient and happens in the blink of an eye. What you don’t realise is just how much food you throw away each week.
All of it could, in fact, be turned into compost and recycled. Many local authorities help residents compost their food waste in plastic bags that decompose with the food as it turns into compost. Instead of sweeping your leftovers into a rubbish bin, you sweep them into a compost bin that’s lined with the special bag, and your local authority takes it away every week. Look into whether this is an option for you.
We have already discussed the importance of reducing unnecessary use of your heating, but another way to make the most of the energy you do use is to ensure your home is properly insulated. A well-insulated home will retain your heating for longer, meaning you don’t need to switch it on for as long. We all know that hot air rises, so start by looking at your loft space and roof. It costs around £400 to insulate the roof of a typical home, but you will save more than half of that figure in the first year by reducing your energy bills.
Double glazing will also help, while soft furnishings such as carpets and rugs will also help if you have exposed stone or wood flooring. Keep in mind that your walls and your floors account for as much as 75% of all heat loss from your home. Draft excluders around doors and windows can also make a big difference, with around 15% of energy lost that way.
4. Recycle, recycle, recycle…
There is no excuse for not recycling plastic bottles, paper and glass. According to a study in the United States, around 80% of all plastic bottles are still not recycled. Remember that, each time you throw a plastic bottle away, it will take a millennium to degrade. So, recycle them – it is really important, and you will be helping the planet every single time you do it.
5. Install solar panels
This is an extreme solution, perhaps, but it is one that could make a massive difference to your annual utility bills and the environment. The up-front cost is significant, but many energy providers will pay you for the energy you generate but don’t use every year. Definitely worthy of consideration!