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. This is perfect for keeping you occupied during the lockdown, giving you productive ways to pass the time while helping to build a greener household.
Our Top 10 Eco-Friendly Home Improvements
Building a sustainable home is easier than you would expect, even more so during the quarantine period while we are spending more time than ever looking for ways to make the most out of our time around the house. 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, therefore needs a little extra planning, 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, including the following:
- 1. Install Double Glazing
- 2. Reduce Food Waste
- 3. Use Energy Efficient Bulbs
- 4. Install A Smart Meter
- 5. Donate Unwanted Items
- 6. Use Low VOC Paint
- 7. Create Natural Cleaning Products
- 8. Boost Your Insulation
- 9. Invest In Energy Efficient Appliances
- 10. Use Solar Energy
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, resulting in a significant drop in your energy bills. For example, according to Home Logic, a standard detached house fitted with A-rated double glazing is thought to save an average of £175 per year on their electricity bills. If you wanted to save even more money, you could go one step further and opt for triple glazing. More information on the difference between double and triple glazing can be found in our previous article.
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 window double glazing options; all of which come alongside a FENSA certificate for your peace of mind.
Based on research carried out by the charity Wrap and updated in January 2020, the UK produces approximately 9.5 million tonnes of food waste a year; this figure alone totals to a value of a huge £19 billion. Although these statistics are shocking, it is the impact that our obsession with throwing away food is having on the environment is even more worrying. 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, which is even more important over the next few weeks while we remain in lockdown. 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’. You should then plan your meals in order of expiry dates, using fresh items first before moving onto those with a longer shelf life such as freezer and cupboard foods.
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.
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 approximately 50,000 hours of lamp life before replacement is required, compared to the short 2,000 hours when using a traditional light bulb.
Ledbulbs.co.uk stock a wide range of shaped and coloured LED bulbs and lamps for a cost-effective price. They are still open as dispatching as usual during the COVID-19 pandemic, making switching your bulbs a super easy way to save energy while giving you a productive way to spend your afternoon.
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.
If after installing your smart meter, you begin noticing your energy usage rising, then it may be time to consider switching providers to a company who will be able to provide you with a better deal. When shortlisting options, we suggest only opting for providers who use renewable energy such as Ampower, who is an electricity and gas supplier aiming to eventually only provide 100% green energy. This will help you to improve your efficiency further while lowering your carbon footprint.
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. So, if you’re looking for something productive to do during the lockdown, why not spend the weekend doing a thorough clear out of your home? However, this time, instead of throwing away bin bags filled with goods, 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. While charity shops are closed until further notice, you can begin to put together packages that you plan to drop off the moment that lockdown precautions are lifted, and organisations reopen.
In the meantime, 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.
Repainting walls, doors and window frames are one of the most popular home renovation tasks to complete during quarantine, 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!
Being cooped up at home gives you the perfect opportunity to experiment with trialling things that you probably didn’t have time for before the pandemic. A lifestyle change which is super easy to make and will help to make your home more eco-friendly is to switch to making your own 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.
Swapping your pre-brought cleaning products for organic, DIY alternatives is easier than you may think and utilise only 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 eight easy-to-make homemade household cleaners featured in Good Housekeeping!
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. While this is a home upgrade that you will not be able to do for a fair few months, it is something that you can begin planning ready for when life returns to normal.
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 opt for additional layers around tanks, pipes and inside the flooring. Don’t forget to consider whether your conservatory is well-insulated as this is a common room which experiences an unsteady temperature and lots of draughts. More tips on keeping your conservatory warm can be found in our previous article.
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.
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.
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 many cases, homeowners find that they make more solar energy than they need to power their home, which means that they can then invest in a solar power diverter. Solar power diverters such as the IMMERSUN allow you to store all of your surplus power, then divert it to a designated load which can be used, for example, to provide you with free hot water. This is another fantastic way to build a home that uses 100% green energy as opposed to relying on fossil fuels from the grid.
Opting to fit your home with solar panels isn’t a project that you can decide on overnight, making it ideal for finding more information about during the lockdown period. 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.
One Step Closer To An Eco-Friendly Household!
Having specialised in the installation of windows in Milton Keynes for many years and becoming experts in double glazing, we have worked with hundreds of clients hoping to reduce their carbon footprint. We can most definitely say that 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!