Most of us are more conscious of our carbon footprint than ever before, and are committed to making sure we’re living as green a lifestyle as possible. From recycling our waste to walking instead of driving, all the small decisions we make can add up to help us be more eco-friendly.
When it comes to our homes, there are plenty of things we can do to be more energy efficient. Many of them are simple lifestyle changes - washing clothes at a lower temperature, or remembering to turn off unused lights and appliances. But there are other, bigger steps you can take to boost your home’s green potential, whether on your own, or with the help of an expert tradesperson.
Energy efficient lighting
Traditional incandescent light bulbs have been phased out, with other low-performance halogen bulbs also on the way out, leaving the much more energy efficient models such as LED and CFL bulbs behind them. Most homes will already have fully switched over to these styles, but that doesn’t mean your home is necessarily optimised. Think about the way you use your home and how your lighting is laid out - could a few well placed downlights replace several lights? Do you have light switches in useful places like the tops and bottom of staircases so you can turn them off easily when not in use? Small changes can make a big difference, and like with many ideas, it will save you money on your utility bills as well as being greener. An electrician can help work out what will be best for your home.
While this was once seen as a luxurious upgrade reserved for the smartest of bathrooms, the benefits of underfloor heating go beyond the simple joy of toasty feet. Traditional radiators are a relatively inefficient way to heat a room, channelling heat close to themselves which then moves upwards - underfloor heating means the whole room gets warmed up, meaning you can use it at lower temperatures, and for less time, to get the same warm feeling. It’s not just for bathrooms too - many rooms can benefit, even those with carpeting. Heating engineers can explain what options are available.
Sort your water
Turning off your tap when cleaning your teeth is a simple fix, but there are other ways to minimise your water use in the bathroom. You can add devices into your toilet cistern to reduce the amount of water used each flush, or, to keep things simple, update your whole toilet to a more water-efficient model. Similarly, modern showers can use far less water than previous generations, while keeping up the same pressure so you don’t have to suffer through a sad drizzle. If your home is on a smart water meter, you’ll soon notice the savings. Speak to a plumber to see what you can change.
One of the biggest changes you can make to your home when it comes to upping its eco credentials is adding insulation. Loft insulation or roof insulation are common ways to help keep more heat in your home, and a relatively cost efficient way of doing so - lagging can be put down in the loft relatively cheaply if you’re using simple fibreglass rolls, often for around £100 or less, while more comprehensive methods like spray foam insulation can cost a little more, but prove more efficient in the long run. If you’re keen to really maximise insulation in your home then you can consider cavity wall insulation, which fills the space between the two layers of brick in a traditional home with insulating material. It’s typically more expensive than loft insulation, but can have a huge impact. Insulation installers can lay out your options.
If you’re thinking about insulating your walls, then it should go hand in hand with making sure your windows and doors are also up to scratch - after all, there’s no point in having your walls all solid and sorted if your windows are draughty and letting in the cold air, while the warm air all escapes. Replacing old, single glazed windows with more energy efficient versions can be pricey, but is one of the biggest changes you can make, and it comes with a host of added benefits - with a range of materials and finishes to choose from, it can improve how your home looks, and it can also do wonders to cut out noise, a massive plus if you’re near a noisy road. Window fitters will be able to show you the range available.
Cutting back on your energy usage is one thing, but for a real change, how about generating your own electricity? While once seen as a radical step, solar panel technology has evolved to make the devices cheaper and more accessible, and they’ve become an increasingly common sight on homes around the country. A decent installation of solar panels on your roof could generate a significant proportion of the electricity you use, slashing your bills and cutting your reliance on the National Grid, which still relies on fossil fuel power stations.