10 February 2014

Ways to Make Your Home Greener

There are loads of ways to improve energy efficiency, decrease energy use and make your home greener, and many of them are simple and cheap. 

This guide explores low cost / no cost methods, as well as investment ideas.

Insulation and Draught-proofing

A properly insulated home wastes less heat in the colder months and stops heat from getting in during the hotter months. Wall and floor insulation can be expensive, but roof insulation is fairly low cost. Adding thick drapes or blinds to your windows is a low cost option which can really reduce unwanted heat flow.

Air Conditioning Alternatives 

Air conditioners use lots of energy, but there are lots of greener ways to keep your home cool, and these can reduce your reliance on energy-intensive air conditioning. Use reflective fabrics and drapes on the windows and doors. Plant trees and shrubbery to increase shade and reflect light away from your home.

Washing and Cooking

Use low temperature settings for clothes washing – you can still get great cleaning results if you use special low-temperature detergents. Always wait until you have a full load until you wash, and try to limit your use of the dryer. The oven uses a great deal of energy, so switch to other cooking appliances that use less energy, such as microwaves and stoves.

Home Cleaning

Instead of using expensive commercial cleaners with toxic chemicals, you can make your own from common household products – and these are usually much greener than commercial products. With ingredients such as plant oils, lemon juice, vinegar, baking soda, washing soda and hydrogen peroxide, you can make effective green cleaning products for the home.

Choose Green Power

For an extra cost, your energy provider may give you the choice to have some (or all) of your electricity delivered from renewable sources. Check with your provider to see if green deals are available.

Water Control

There are cheap products available that you can attach to your toilet/cistern to reduce the amount of water used in each flush. If you have an older toilet, see if you can adjust the float valve to reduce the water intake. Aerators reduce the density of water that comes out of your faucets – you can cut your yearly water usage by up to half with faucet aerators.

In the Garden

Only use compost & never use synthetic fertilizers and chemical pesticides. When buying new plants, think about how much water they need to survive. If you have a small garden, use a push-mower instead of an electric mower. 

Use a water butt to collect rain water for watering your plants.

Home Lighting

There are two major energy-efficient lighting options: LEDs and compact fluorescents. Both of these types of bulbs can now deliver the same levels of brightness as traditional bulbs, and though they are more expensive, they are actually cheaper in the long run because they use less power and last for much longer than regular bulbs.

Turn Electronics Off

Never use the ‘standby’ mode on electronics, as this wastes energy. Turn off your devices completely at the wall.


Improving or replacing your windows can dramatically reduce heat waste and draughts. 

The high cost options are to install double glazing with energy efficient window frames, while a cheaper option is to fit insulating films to existing windows.

Rainwater Harvesting

Rainwater harvesting systems might be a good thing to consider in areas where it is important to conserve water. Advanced harvesting systems can supply water to washing machines, toilets, showers and other appliances that require water.

If you are thinking about rainwater harvesting, it is important to understand your position and the potential efficiency and demand benefits. Agencies often state that it is better first to improve home water efficiency before investing in a harvesting system.

Grey Water Systems

With a grey water system you recycle the wastewater from sinks, washing machines, baths and showers. When used to supply toilets, you can cut your home’s water usage by over a third. 

There are many biological and mechanical systems available for the treatment of grey water. If you are interested in building a grey water system, you should follow the advice and guidance of your local environmental authority.

Solar Panels

Solar panel systems offer the prospect of renewable home electricity and renewable home heating. 

They are a significant investment, but because they can save you lots of money (and even earn you money), over time they pay for themselves.

Solar water heating panels can be used to provide up to a third of your home’s hot water requirements. This would reduce your energy bills by a wide margin, as well as reduce your home’s non-renewable energy consumption.

PV solar panels deliver electricity to the home by converting the sun’s energy. Not only do PV solar panels reduce your reliance on the electricity grid, you can actually earn money by feeding the electricity you generate into the grid. While PV solar panels work better in direct sunlight, they still work when the weather is cloudy.

Ground Heat Pumps

Ground source heat pumps assist home heating during the winter and facilitate home cooling during the summer. A typical ground heat pump system will use a small network of underground pipes with water/antifreeze, connected to a home heat pump. Heat taken from the ground can then be used with under-floor heating systems and other home water heating systems.

Energy Efficient Appliances

Investing in a new energy efficient appliance can be expensive, but it is certainly one of the easiest ways to make your home greener. And don’t forget your appliance will pay for itself in the long run by saving you money on your energy bills.

Think Green!

These are just a few ways to reduce energy consumption and improve your home’s energy efficiency and eco-friendliness. 

Think about your home life and how you can improve your actions and make greener choices.

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