One of the best ways to have an eco-friendly house is to think about the energy you’re using at home. Although domestic energy contributes to carbon emissions, lots of progress is currently being made to reduce these numbers. In June of 2020, the UK went without coal for a full two month period. Not only is that a record, but it points to the promising future sustainable energy has in store. Even policy is beginning to change in the favour of sustainability. In 2008, the Climate Change Act produced legally binding goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at least by 80% by 2050. But, frustratingly, we are currently not on track to meet those targets. So, what can we do about it? While policy and government are taking their time, we, as individuals, can change our home energy habits and create real change.
The current situation
The UK housing stock is one of the most energy inefficient in Europe. If you began to rent or bought your home after 2008, you will have been given an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). This will signal areas where your home could be improved in order to use less energy. If you haven’t received one of these certificates, a good first step is getting one so you know how exactly to make changes. They cost between £60-£120 if you’d like a new one.
Eco-friendly house changes towards sustainability
Insulation should be the first thing you think about when you want to save energy. If your house is not properly insulated, heat will seep out constantly. But, if you have insulation that is installed correctly, heat will stay inside for longer. That means you’ll need to use less energy to produce heat as your house will stay warm for longer periods of time. If you need to install insulation in a cavity wall or a loft, you’re better off contacting a professional.
However, if you want to calk windows or add secondary glazing, you should be able to do these by yourself. Additionally, you could try adding stick-on insulation to your windows. Even hanging thicker curtains in front of your windows will make a big difference. Although doing all of these may be expensive, if you select even only one change, you can make a big difference to your energy use. That will save you money, while also helping the planet!
Eco-friendly house appliances
Managing your appliances can be a great way to handle your energy use. Did you know that boilers account for 60% of domestic carbon dioxide emissions? An old boiler is going to be producing lots of carbon dioxide while also wasting your money. If your boiler is over 10 years old, consider upgrading to a new one. Although the initial cost is large, the benefits will pay off in the long run. Alongside this, you’ll be able to apply for financial assistance schemes to replace your old boiler.
Every large appliance is graded on an energy efficiency scale. These span from G (very inefficient) to A (efficient), with additional marks A+, A++, and A+++. If one of your household appliances is reaching the end of its lifespan, be sure to check the energy tag when buying a new product.
Even without buying anything new, one of the best things you can do is avoid large appliances. If it’s a windy or sunny day, consider hanging your laundry out to dry instead of putting it into the dryer. Even saving one spin now and again can build up over time! Manage appliances and you’ll have an eco-friendly house in no time.
The outdoor space of an eco-friendly house
If you have outdoor space, your energy-saving practises can also extend into the garden. Turn a small patch of lawn into an allotment. By growing your own fruits and vegetables you will save yourself some money, and reduce the amount of industrialised farming you’re relying on! You can even cultivate flowers that are more bee-friendly. Just a small note, if you do begin to plant fruit and vegetables, make sure to employ only natural fertilisers and organic alternatives.
If you have lots of spare space, you could even create a small pond. Ponds provide habitat for endangered newts and frogs, helping to boost the ecosystem of your local area. The Wildlife Garden Project is a great place to start if you’re looking for some outdoor tips!
Making a change without outdoor space
If your flat doesn’t have an outdoor area, you could always install window boxes. These contractions attach to the outside of your window, providing space to grow plants. Some plants actually thrive in small spaces. The hard work really does pay off with gardening… there is something incredibly satisfying about snacking on something you grew yourself!
If you don’t have any space at all, think about bringing some plants indoors. Indoor plants can improve people’s mental health, as well as air quality. Even if you only have a small flat, one or two plants around the room can make a positive impact on your environment.
Further sustainable changes you can make in your home
If you’re one of the 37% of the UK privately renting or living in social housing, there are still lots of things you can do. Think about installing some energy-saving bulbs in your home. These will help to reduce the intensity of light that a bulb emits, saving you a lot of energy. While that’s great for our wallets, energy-saving bulbs also often have a softer hue, which makes our homes look cosy.
You could also try making some smaller changes around the house. Think about hanging thicker curtains or blinds to your windows. Or, you could talk to your landlord about making some changes yourself. Things like fitting draft-stoppers are simple changes that can have a big impact.
Moving outside of the home, you want to ensure all areas of your life are equally sustainable. Have you thought about sustainable finance? Where you put your money, both investments and banking, could have repercussions. Some banks are more sustainable than others. You can check how sustainable your bank is. Similarly, some services will help you find some eco-friendly investment opportunities. We’ve even written a complete guide to ethical banking and investing.
If you’re not keen on switching banks, you could at least change the way your statements are delivered. Receiving your statements electronically will seriously reduce trees cut down for paper. In fact, if just 20% of US households went paperless, 1.8 million trees would be preserved each year!
There are a lot of ways you can make your eco-friendly home flourish. Which of these tips are you ready to try? Let us know down in the comments below!