Based on ‘Earth Day’ research from The Telegraph, the United Kingdom now has an EPI rating of 87.38. An EPI rating, also known as the Environmental Performance Index, relates to the environmental performance of the countries policies; the higher the rating, the better. A score of 87.38 is an achievement that, as the British public, we should be proud of as it means that we are now within the top twenty most environmentally friendly countries across the globe.
We are continuously encouraged to make even the smallest of lifestyle changes to create a more ‘kind to nature’ nation that strives to prepare the world for the future generations to come. One of the most effective ways to contribute towards further improving the EPI rating of the UK is to spend time carrying out eco-friendly home improvements.
10 Easy Eco-Friendly Home Improvements
Building a sustainable home is easier than you would expect. There are a number of small and more significant updates at both ends of the budget scale that can begin lowering your carbon footprint. While some may require enlisting the help of a professional to maximise results, others are equally as effective through using simple DIY methods. If you’re stuck for inspiration, then why not take a browse through our top ten eco-friendly home improvements?
1. Reduce Food Waste
According to The Guardian, in 2015 alone, households in the UK binned approximately £13bn worth of food; this figure alone totals to a huge 7.3m tonnes of waste. As food begins to rot, the degraded waste emits methane, an incredibly harmful gas, into the atmosphere. It is thought that methane is around 25 times more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide.
Luckily, there are now a plethora of different ways that you can begin working towards keeping your household food waste at a minimum. Firstly, it is vital to get yourself into the routine of shopping smart. Only buy items in bulk if they have a long shelf life and will not go out of date within the next few months. Always spend time filtering through your fridge, cupboards and drawers prior to visiting the supermarket to build a shopping list of all essential items you need to pick up – this will help to avoid ‘impulse buys’.
Another excellent food waste reducing tip is to ensure that you store all items in their correct locations. Many homeowners are often surprised to find that they have been speeding up the rotting and decay of food simply due to their lack of organisation. Ethylene is a gas found in many different foods such as bananas, tomatoes, green onions and peaches that promotes the ripening of items. Aim to separate all ethylene foods from those that are particularly sensitive to the gas. For more information on the difference between ethylene producing and ethylene-sensitive foods, take a look at Nutrition You Can Trust.
2. Use Energy Efficient Bulbs
Opting to replace all traditional light bulbs with energy efficient, LED alternatives is a proven way to not only lower your carbon footprint but also reduce your electricity bills by up to 15%. While LED lightbulbs have been around for many years, only recently have suppliers broadened their range to cover an array of different colours and light levels, making them easier to incorporate into the home.
LED lightbulbs are both cheap to buy and cheap to run; on average, after just one month of using energy efficient bulbs, you would have paid back the initial investment cost. From then onwards, you will notice a reduction of around 80% when analysing lightbulb energy usage, ultimately, dramatically reducing energy bills. Fitting LED replacements to your property will also enable you to enjoy around 50,000 hours of lamp life before replacement is required, compared to the short 2,000 hours when using a traditional light bulb.
The Lightbulb Company stock a wide range of shaped and coloured LED bulbs and lamps for a cost-effective price.
3. Install A Smart Meter
The central heating system is one of the key culprits for contributing to high energy bills meaning it is essential to ensure that you have full control over your gas and electricity usage. Installing a smart meter is a fantastic way to manage your central heating system. The system allows you to programme times of the day in which you would like the heating to turn on and off, minimising wasted energy.
Advanced technology included in smart meters now mean that you will also be provided with a digital display, enabling homeowners to gain a better understanding of their daily habits and lifestyle. Included in the digital display will be information on your gas and electricity usage so far for the day, along with the individual and total cost. Using these details, you will then be able to make a smarter decision on how you can begin saving energy. Money Saving Expert has tonnes of information on how to get the right smart meter for you.
4. Donate Unwanted Items
Over time, homes become filled with unwanted clutter that is no longer being used; therefore, merely taking up valuable space that could be better used to your advantage. During your next deep clean, instead of throwing away binbags filled with goods, instead, make a pile of all items in working condition and donate them to charity. Almost all household items from clothing and shoes to furniture, toys and electronics can now be donated to a number of worthy organisations.
If you are new to donating items to charity, it is vital to spend time researching into organisations that you feel eager to support. Charity Choice has a super handy resource that allows you to browse charities based on sector or region.
5. Install Double Glazing
Installing double glazing is an effective way to maximise your property’s thermal insulation and ability to trap heat inside. The less heat that is lost through windows, the easier it will be to maintain a steady temperature in your home. You will no longer have to put your sole reliance on the power of your central heating system. Houses fitted with A-rated double glazing are thought to save an average of £160 per year on their electricity bills.
With over 15 years of experience providing clients with double glazing in Milton Keynes, we have noticed the exceptional reduction on energy bills thanks to the addition of new windows. We opt for specialising in a balance of cost-effective and high-end double glazing options; all of which come alongside a FENSA certificate for your peace of mind.
6. Use Low VOC Paint
Repainting walls, doors and window frames continue to be one of the most popular home renovation tasks, so why not consider taking a more eco-friendly approach when carrying out painting projects?
Low VOC paints have continued to grow in popularity as not only are they non-toxic, but they are also made with entirely natural ingredients. VOC stands for “volatile organic compound” which in simple terms, is the ingredient that causes the recognisable ‘new paint smell’. While VOC is still widely used to standard paint, it is known for being incredibly harmful to both humans and the environment. If inhaled for an extended period of time, you will begin to experience adverse side effects such as nausea, airway irritation and damage to the central nervous system. Paints with a low VOC, on the other hand, contain no extra solvents or additives which means that they are considerably kinder to nature than their alternatives. We suggest taking a look at Lakeland Paints for a wide range of different low VOC paint colours!
7. Create Natural Cleaning Products
While pre-made cleaning products are effective in shifting dust, dirt and grime, they most definitely are not good for the environment. Cleaning products get washed away into the local water supply and must undergo intense purification before the water is safe enough to be used again.
With this in mind, we suggest swapping your pre-brought cleaning products for organic, DIY alternatives that utilise a number of basic household ingredients. All-purpose, glass, kitchen and heavy-duty cleaners can all be homemade and involve just a few key elements. Some of the essential items required to create homemade cleaners are more than likely to be hidden in the back of kitchen cupboards or inside your pantry. For example, white vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice are all staple ingredients to begin your journey to organic Spring cleaning. We love the nine easy-to-make homemade household cleaners featured in Good Housekeeping!
8. Insulate Well
One of the smartest, long-lasting ways to improve the sustainability of your home is to invest in high-quality insulation. Not only does insulation trap warm heat in your property during the Winter, but it also keeps rooms cool during higher temperatures over the Summer months. According to Energy Saving Trust, failing to insulate your home will lead to a quarter of your heat being lost.
There are many different ways in which you can insulate your home. It is highly recommended if you are yet to insulate, to begin with your roof, loft and cavity wall. For further insulation in years to come, you could then consider additional layers around tanks, pipes and inside the flooring. All insulation work must be completed by professionals which although may be a costly initial investment, will last you up to 40 years problem-free, repaying the cost in just a few years.
9. Invest In Energy Efficient Appliances
Electrical appliances are one of the most significant contributors to your energy bills. Appliances such as washing machines, ovens and fridges all require a considerable amount of electricity to fuel throughout the day. While we are not suggesting to replace every appliance in the home, always keep in mind, that when it comes to replacement, there are several energy efficient alternatives available.
All household items that qualify as an ‘energy efficient appliance’ are categorised based on their energy rating class; classes range from Grade A to Grade G. Those that fall into Grade A are classed as the most energy efficient and Grade G is the least efficient. All electrical appliances are labelled with their energy rating; the letter featured in the black arrow is the rating of the appliance in question. For more information on efficient home appliances, take a look at SSE.
10. Use Solar Energy
Solar panels are an essential feature in any eco-friendly home. They allow you to stop all reliance on electricity or gas suppliers and instead, generate your own energy. In some cases, homeowners find that they make more solar energy than they need to power their home, so are then able to sell power back to the grid.
Opting to fit your home with solar panels isn’t a project that you can decide on overnight. It will take a considerable amount of researching, planning and preparation to ensure that the transition is right for your home and your family. Solar panels usually take around two days to install and can begin to be used immediately. Which? has put together a handy guide on all information required when considering fitting solar panels.
Make Eco-Friendly Lifestyle Choice!
Opting to begin building an eco-friendly home doesn’t have to be a time-consuming, daunting task. Even the smallest of lifestyle changes are capable of making a noticeable difference to your energy usage – start small and build yourself up!