Telling people that I live in an eco-house (that incidentally looks remarkably like a Lego brick), people often assume that I’m some new-age eco-warrior! Believe me, I’m not.
Living there is great, and saves a fortune in energy bills, but understandably it’s not for everyone. Instead, here are some really simple (and cheap) suggestions to make your home a little bit greener.
Make your home greener for less
1) Get gardening
Clever planting in your garden provides shade in the summer months and insulation in the winter months. Plant trees that lose their leaves on the western and southern sides of your home. In the summer the trees will provide shade, keeping your house cooler, and in the winter, when the trees lose their leaves, they will allow in more of the sun to reach the windows and warm your home up.
2) Go into the light
Yes they’re a bit ugly, and yes they’re a bit more expensive BUT energy saving bulbs use 75% less energy than normal bulbs and they last up to 10 times longer. That means it only takes 3 months to make up for the higher initial cost.
3) Soak up the sun
Ideally, all houses would have solar panels (like my Lego brick house!) but these can be expensive to fit. Instead use the sun just by opening your blinds and curtains to let the sunlight in to help warm and brighten up your home. Close them again at night to keep the warmth in. Simple!
4) Let it all hang out
Your laundry that is! Allowing your clothes and dishes to air-dry, rather than using the tumble dryer or the settings on your dishwasher will save enormous amounts of energy. In fact, your dryer is the 3rd biggest consumer of energy in your house.
5) Don’t over-cool your food
Fridges work best at around 37ºF, whilst freezers will keep food at around -3ºF. Check your settings to make sure your fridge or freezer isn’t working harder than it needs to.
TOP TIP: To check seal on your fridge and freezer is tight, shut a bank note in the door then tug on it (gently!). If there’s resistance, your seals are tight. If not, you should look at getting them replaced.
6) Mind the gap…
It sounds obvious doesn’t it, but gaps around windows, dripping taps and improper insulation let the energy pour out. Plug, caulk, insulate and repair to make sure nothing escapes!
7) ….or just cover it up!
If repairing the gap isn’t possible, try a draught-excluder. They don’t have to be expensive or permanent (or in hideous patterns like my Gran used to have), you can make one really easily using a length of material and some stuffing, and they stop cold air coming in around doors and windows.
8) Reduce your showers
Now I’m not suggesting that you stop showering altogether, but cutting down the time you spend by just 1 minute can result in a 13% decrease in shower water use. Or try using a low-flow shower head, which can save between 15-25 gallons of water per day.
9) Clean up your act
Chemical cleaning products can be toxic, but you don’t have to use the strong stuff to get your home sparkling clean. Try using natural cleaners like baking soda, vinegar and lemon instead. Or, if you can quite bring yourself to ditch the products, there are plenty of eco-friendly alternatives on the market.
10) Put a jumper on
Our mothers may have been on to something with this one! If you’re cold, put a jumper on rather than turning up the thermostat another degree. Or do what I do, use the cold as a good excuse to sit and watch a movie snuggled up under the duvet.
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