Are you planning on making improvements to your new home? Have you considered some eco-friendly additions too, but aren’t sure what is worth investing in? What will have the most eco-impact? Here are the best ways to green up your new house and reduce your environmental damage..
1. Don’t bin it
At some point during your move, either before or after, you’ll probably do a cull of your belongings and have things to get rid of. Rather than toss unwanted items in the bin, try to sell, re-home or recycle them. If you can’t donate something to the charity shop, post free items online or leave a ‘help yourself’ box outside your front door.
Electrical items often contain valuable materials that can be used again, like gold, copper and steel. Take them to your recycling centre, where they can be dismantled and reused rather than putting them into your bin.
If you get a skip, check the supplier is registered as a legal operator with the Environment Agency, to avoid your old belongings being fly-tipped somewhere down a country lane.
2. Go green with your energy
Currently, over a third of the UK’s electricity comes from renewable resources.
You will probably be moving to a new provider for all your utilities, so why not combine this with switching to a green energy provider? It’s one of the easiest ways to reduce the impact of your daily energy consumption and can often save you a few quid too.
Some providers are greener than others, so for more information go to the Energy Saving Trust or book a Home Setup Service with Just Move In to ensure you get a great deal and the best customer service.
3. Energy Performance Certificates
A good place to start before you decide on any physical works is to look at the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) of your new house. It’s the equivalent of an energy MOT, telling you how energy efficient your new home is. It’s the ‘recommended measures’ section you want, where it will list suggested improvements; handily it includes potential savings and costs for doing this too.
4. Start small
Lighting accounts for up to 15% of a household’s electricity bill.
The quickest and simplest way to make your new home more eco-friendly is to replace any old light bulbs with a low watt eco-version, which last up to five years. Don’t forget to check outside in garages or garden floodlights, which are easily missed. If you want to take it to the next level, investigate sun tunnels or skylights, which add natural light to dark areas, costing from around £150–£300.
5. Loft insulation
According to the Energy Saving Trust, up to 75% of energy is lost via the roof and walls of a house.
Insulation will give you your best bang for carbon-saving buck: the most savings on your bills and a cosier home.
A third of the heat can be lost through your roof, so it’s a good idea to start there. You can fit insulation into your roof yourself or get a contractor to do the work. The suggested depth of loft insulation is 270mm and it can be fitted to retain floorboards for storage. Expect it to cost about £100–£250 for the product, plus contractor fees.
6. Cavity wall insulation
It is estimated that 35–45% of heat is lost through the walls of a house.
You have different eco-options depending on the type of walls you have. Which type do you have? Most properties from the 1920s onwards have cavity walls, but a free inspection from an installer will confirm this.
Cavity wall insulation foam is injected via multiple drilled holes into the wall from outside. Although this sounds quite dramatic, the holes are ‘made good’ afterwards. Depending on the size of your house, expect it to cost £300–£900.
7. Solid wall insulation
If you have solid external walls, insulation work will be a bit more involved, hence why doing this pre-move is best. Sheets of insulation are added onto the inside or outside walls, then plastered over. It’s usually done by contractors, but in some cases can be done yourself. Expect it to cost £1,500–£10,000.
Check out the Green Homes Grant Scheme which can provide up to £10,000 towards eco-improvements you make to your home.
Another good value option for reducing your home’s overall carbon footprint is to reduce draughts. You can draught-proof your whole house for about £200. Saving £25–£50 on annual bills.
Choose your new curtains with thermal linings, use draught excluders on doors, letter boxes, loft hatches and unused chimneys. Add rugs or fill gaps in wooden floors with sawdust resin or flexible filler. Or try self-adhesive brush strips which fit across the gap between window frames.
It’s a pricier option, but you could consider replacing old single pane windows with double glazing - Low-E glass being the best. Expect to pay £200–£2,500 per double glazed window.
9. Eco appliances
When it comes to appliances, longevity studies show they don’t make them like they used to. There are still practical things you can do to be eco-conscious though when updating home gadgets. Look to buy models with an AA+++ rating, which is the most energy-efficient. Consider paying more for quality products by checking reviews; the most eco-friendly option is to avoid taking a broken item to landfill after only a few years.
Dispose of the old ones, which often contain hazardous materials, at the recycling centre. Local councils make this easy as they usually do a collection service for larger household items.
10. Don’t forget water
Half the money we spend on fuel bills in the UK goes towards heating and hot water.
Adding pipe insulation foam to pipes and a heating cylinder tank jacket is a really easy and cheap way to reduce heat waste. It may be a bit retro, but radiator reflective panels are a great way to redirect the heat back into a room. You can also add thermostatic controls to radiator valves, so you don’t heat up rooms you don’t use as much.
Sources: UK National Insulation Association, Which Consumer UK, Energy Saving Trust.