TV Property Guru Martin Roberts gives advice on Eco-Friendly Home Improvements:
Making your home more energy efficient not only helps the environment but cuts down on household bills. Whilst those who have bought new homes of late will be well aware of what makes a ‘sustainable’ property, those of us who’ve lived in the same place for donkey’s years might not have given it much thought. But, new home or old, we can all play our part in reducing the amount of energy, water and pollution we use.
So here’s my top ten ideas of eco-friendly home improvements:
1. Flush Less
About 1/3rd of the water used in the average home each day goes down the loo! If you are upgrading your toilet then get a dual flush loo which uses less water than a standard flush. If you aren’t up to replacing it just yet, reduce the amount of water used by fitting an ‘Interflush‘ – a crafty mechanism which allows you to stop the flush when you want. The kit costs £4.95. Otherwise fit a ‘Save-a-flush’ bag to limit the amount of water in the cistern. Cost £3.00 from dry-planet.com or ask your water company if they provide them.
2. Cork Flooring
Your relationship with cork may not extend past the wine bottle, but cork is a brilliant choice for flooring. Besides being natural, cork flooring is comfortable to walk on, quiet, warm and durable. It doesn’t absorb dust and is good for people who suffer from asthma or allergies. Forget those images of 1970 wall tiles, cork comes in a range of colours and designs and since it is harvested from bark, it doesn’t damage the tree, allowing regrowth. Prices can range from approx £11 per sqm to £36 per sqm.
3 .Energy efficient lighting
Energy saving lightbulbs use around 80% less electricity than traditional bulbs to produce the same amount of light. That’s good news for the environment and your electricity bill. Similarly, the more natural daylight you can employ in your property, the less environmental impact you will have from using artificial light. Consider using ‘Sun Tunnels’ to steal natural daylight through the ceiling – they can even ‘bend’ light around corners. They cost about £200+ depending on the length but are great for windowless rooms.
4. Redecorate with Eco-Friendly Paints
Most home improvements or renovation projects will involve painting at some stage. Generally paints contain high levels of VOCs which are harmful for the environment as well as your health. Try to select brands that are solvent, VOC, pesticide and toxin free. Ecos Organic paints are water based and solvent free and also offer extra-insulating and anti condensation wall paint to go even greener. Prices start from £67.58.
5. Organic Bedding
Most bedding products are treated with formaldehyde chemical, which is harmful for the environment as well as your health. It’s better to select organic bedding and eco-friendly mattresses.
6. Upgrade your Boiler
Old, inefficient central heating boilers are bad for the environment and bad for your pocket, so at the very least make sure yours is serviced regularly to maintain efficiency and if it’s over 20 years old, consider replacing it with a condensing boiler or even a biomass boiler.
7. Upcycle Furniture
Move away from mass produced flat-packed furniture and consider buying pre-loved pieces. Buying used furniture will reduce the demand on forests and materials for furniture to be made from scratch. The trend for ‘upcycling’ furniture continues to rage and you’ll end up with unique, individual pieces. Visit remadeinbritain.com – an upcycling marketplace featuring products from designers and crafters from all over the country.
8. Embrace New Technology
There’s a good range of alternatives to heating your home and generating hot water. Air source heat pumps extract heat from the outside air (in the same way that a fridge extracts heat from the inside) and use this to heat a cylinder of water that is connected to your existing heating and hot water system.
Similarly, ground source heat pumps take heat from the ground. These technologies aren’t cheap but the energy savings will last for years and you may qualify for financial support. Visit energysavingtrust.org.uk to find out more.
9. Home insulation
Insulation is one of the most effective ways to stop wasting energy in your home. Insulating an un-insulated loft could save you around £150 a year and reduce your carbon dioxide emissions too. If your home was built after 1920s it’s likely to have cavity walls but it’s only since the 1990s that cavity wall insulation became commonplace. Even solid and non-standard walls can be insulated – you just might need a specialist company to do it.
10. And Finally
A little thought can save ££ in fuel bills and not cost you a penny. Turn off appliances rather than leaving them on standby, turn down your thermostat, take shorter showers and use tote bags instead of plastic bags for groceries to name but a few.
Do you have any simple tips or home improvements for making your home more eco-friendly? Let us know in the comments below.