For those building new homes, it is easy enough to put thought and purpose into choosing eco-friendly products and materials. But what about those living in established houses? It’s not likely that you will switch out your insulation to something more environmentally-friendly just for the sake of it, right?
Well it’s important to remember that every small action can result in big change, so even if you won’t be re-cladding your home in renewable timber anytime soon, you could still decide to do your best with what you’ve got at your disposal. And guess what - it might even save you some pennies too!
Other than remembering to turn off lights when not using a room (and putting a timer on if you want them on for when you get home at night) replace all your light bulbs with LED’s - they use up to 85 per cent less electricity than traditional bulbs and can last up to 15 times longer!
Here’s where you can really do some good by reducing your power usage to heat your home. Firstly, it is about warming up the most important thing - you (and your family). So think about clothing layers first, it can make a real difference.
Then if that’s not enough, what about the rooms around you? If you have wooden floors, invest in some rugs - it can save 4 - 6 per cent on energy bills - and don’t forget about stopping those drafts under doors.
It’s also important to have some good thermal-backed curtains, as they can do wonders for keeping the warmth in in winter, and blocking the heat out in summer.
Want to add value to your home? Install a wood-pellet burner. The pellets are made from waste product, and burn cleanly, and they can also heat a hot water cylinder through a wet pack system.
All those little stand-by lights on your TV, computer and other electronic devices are actually using power. So when not in use, switch them off at the power source.
Here’s a trick - have a few set up on the same multi-socket extension cord, so it is quick to take care of each day.
There are two things you can do in here to reduce water usage. Make sure you turn off the tap when you’re brushing your teeth, and consider installing a low-flow shower head - a family of four could save up to 160,000 litres of hot water a year by using one!
You don’t need to tuck in your hot water cylinder every night, but you could get it wrapped to help keep it warm too! Insulating the cylinder and its pipes means it doesn’t have to work as hard to heat your water.
Need to purchase something new for the kitchen or lounge? Consider choosing energy-efficient appliances that are friendlier to the environment.
Washing in cold water can save you around 20 to 40 cents for every single use, and while that might not sound like much, it is also a lot kinder on the environment to not wash in hot water because you don’t need to use as much energy.
And when it comes to the dryer - try to ditch it where possible. An hour cycle can produce up to 2 to 3 kgs of carbon emissions.
It can use up quite a bit of power to run the oven every time you need to cook something so try to multitask when you have to use it (both dinner and dessert perhaps?) Or invest in a small bench-top convection oven if you’re mainly cooking for just one or two people.
Always use pot lids (to keep the heat in), and after dinner if there are any leftovers - why not put them in the compost? It’s a great way to reduce the amount of rubbish going to landfill, and can also help with growing more food in the veggie patch.
The bonus from making your home eco-friendly, is that many changes can also add value to your home - like double-glazing, or retro-fitting your windows for better indoor climate control, choosing a dishwasher with good energy efficiency, and installing underfloor insulation. And who wouldn’t a house that is worth a little bit more when it comes time to sell up.
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