How to turn your house into an eco home

Taking the time to make your home more energy efficient not only helps the environment, it can also reduce your household bills. It can be easy to make small changes around the house to make your home more eco-friendly, which we’ll go through here.

Install a water butt to reuse ‘old’ water

Reusing water sounds more difficult than it actually is, and installing a water butt in your garden is an easy way to do this. Water butts allow you to use rainwater to augment your main water supply by collecting it via your guttering and storing it in a large tank in your garden. You can use this rainwater for various things around the garden and home, including flushing toilets and watering your garden.

To use the rainwater to flush the toilet, set up your water butt to lead to the toilet cistern, which will fill your toilet up with rainwater, saving water, and saving you money with every flush.

Make sure you set your toilet plumbing up to switch back to the main water supply for when there’s no water collected in the water butt. You can do this by having using a pump to drive water from the water butt to a header tank in the loft space, which will then let gravity feed the water into your toilet cistern. Ensure that this tank has a mains water inlet, so it can be filled up if there is no rain water for a while, like during a particularly hot summer.

You can also use rainwater collected from a water butt to water your plants during hosepipe bans, which your water company may employ during particularly hot summers. Rainwater is especially good for watering plants even when there isn’t a hosepipe ban, as it doesn’t contain the chemicals found in treated tap water. Water butts tend to have taps fitted near the base, which you can use to fill watering cans, or even connect a hosepipe to.


Save energy with a smart meter and efficient lighting

Keeping a property well heated often uses up the majority of a domestic energy supply. According to Ovo Energy, a typical home in a mild climate uses between 5,000 kWh and 30,000 kWh of energy per year, and it can be very easy to use more than you think. Simply installing a smart meter in your home can help you manage when your energy is being used, so you can make a more conscious effort to reduce your energy output—for example, by adjusting the times your heater turns on and off. Even lowering the temperature by just one or two degrees can have a massive impact on your carbon footprint and how much you spend.

You should also switch to energy efficient bulbs around the house, which use up much less energy than traditional light bulbs. Lighting typically accounts for about 10-20% of a home’s total electricity bill. Of course, you should use natural light as much as possible, reducing the amount of time you need to have your lights switched on. One way you can do this involves sun tunnels, which channel sunlight into a room through openings on a roof. By creating a tunnel through your home, you can inject natural light into hallways and rooms, which may not have windows.

Sun tunnels can be installed on pitched or flat roof extensions, and can come with flat or domed glass covers. While flat covers lie flush with the roof, it’s important to remember that some of the sunlight will be lost by reflection, while domed covers refract the light inwards, therefore capturing extra light. However, installing a sun tunnel is a major project, and may require hiring a professional builder.


Insulate your home to cut down heating times

Having a well insulated home can drastically cut down on your heating bills, and reduces how much energy is required to heat your house. Since heat rises, the best place to start insulating is with the loft to trap the heat in your home for as long as possible.

Most homes will have loft insulation as standard, but older homes may not be as well insulated as they could be. Insulation can be bought from most DIY shops at affordable prices, or you can opt for natural or organic materials, such as hemp, wood, wool, or cork insulation. You can also use materials such as cotton and denim fibres, or newspaper. Improving the insulation in your loft and basement also helps to regulate the temperature of your house, meaning you’ll need less energy to heat or cool it throughout the year.

Switching to double glazing, if your home doesn’t already have it, can also help to keep the heat inside your home, ensuring that you don’t need to turn the thermostat up as high or for as long. If you only want to insulate your windows during winter, or want to save money with DIY options, you can use temporary insulation methods. This includes rubber sealing strips along the window frames, or sticking plastic shrink film to the windows to mimic the effects of double glazing.


Use natural or recycled materials where possible

As well as using natural and recycled material to insulate your home, they can also be used to furnish your home, and there are now more companies dedicated to producing sustainable furniture than ever. If you’re looking to save money, consider buying used furniture from thrift shops, charities, and even Craigslist or eBay.

Choosing wood-framed windows is also more eco-friendly, and offers more benefits than UPVC or metal frames. Although they cost more, wooden frames offer more insulation, are easier to repair, and less polluting than UPVC, which emits toxic compounds. Other natural-based products you could use around the house include switching from plastic to biodegradable bags. Whether they are to be used when shopping or as trash bags and caddy liners, biodegradable bags will break down in landfills, making them a recyclable, eco-friendly product.


Install solar panels to cut energy bills

Solar panels are perhaps the most well-known eco-friendly way to harness energy, however many people are still hesitant to install them due to the lack of sunshine in the UK. The truth is, solar panels generate electricity based on daylight rather than sunlight, so some energy can still be produced on gloomy winter days.

There are two types of solar panels: photovoltaic solar panels, known as solar PV, which harness energy to power household goods and lighting. The other type is solar thermal, which allows you to heat water. Both types of solar panel will provide cuts to your bills, while making use of renewable energy.

Houses with a south-facing roof will see the most benefit from installing solar panels, providing that the panels are free from too much shading from other buildings and trees.

With just a few small changes, you can turn your house into a more eco-friendly home, and save money at the same time. Whether you’re installing a water butt in your garden or opting for natural or second hand furnishings around the house, it’s never been easier to be more ethical at home.

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