The environment is on everyone’s mind. We’ve progressed from ensuring we recycle and from trying to buy plastic-free to actively searching for ways to be more environmentally-friendly. This could include changes to our household activities, our lifestyles, and even the houses we live in. So, what small and substantial steps can we take towards living greener lives?
Spending so much time in our homes throughout 2020 has allowed us to truly consider where improvements could be made. Many people have embarked upon environmentally friendly-focused DIY projects. While these provide benefits in the short term, they also add long-term advantages.
Making green changes can add value to a property if you choose to sell it down the line. Green homes are vital for the future of the environment and, as this issue becomes harder to ignore, consumers may stipulate that homes should have certain green features. Indeed, many prospective buyers are requiring some of the elements of sustainable living. More increasingly, buyers are interested in how energy efficient a property is; both for its environmental impact and because an energy-efficient home is cheaper to run. So, small changes are important if you want to make your home more attractive to those seeking planet-friendly credentials.
The first step when attempting to make our homes better for the environment is to consider where our energy comes from. Changing your energy provider could be both greener and cheaper in some cases. Martin Lewis of Money Saving Expert suggests that it’s not about the provider, but the tariff you choose.
It’s not necessarily about new installations either. Switching to certain innovative energy providers, such as Bulb, doesn’t require you to change the physical means by which your gas or electricity reaches you. Instead, the provider will ‘buy’ your portion of green energy to offset it against traditional energy production. For example, if you use £20 worth of gas in a given month, Bulb produces £20 of renewables to feed back into the grid. Furthermore, the more demand there is for green energy, the cheaper it will become.
For many, a home’s inherent structures are the most obvious ways for it to become sustainable and environmentally friendly. Windows, walls, loft space, and heating are some of the easier eco-conscious changes to make. Double glazing is the norm, but triple glazing is available and approximately 40% more thermally efficient than top-level double glazing. It allows you to consume less energy by conserving more heat.
Cavity wall insulation is often another enhancement that people request. A third of all heat lost in homes escapes through the walls, so insulating the cavities of these walls can help to retain some of this lost energy. Many houses are built with this as the norm, but older houses are notorious for letting out heat. Therefore, loft insulation is also important and can help conserve energy in the home.
Councils across the UK have embarked upon solar panel schemes to allow their tenants to generate solar energy, and to help councils lower their carbon footprints. Many private homeowners are also opting to install solar panels in order to benefit from the sun. It is estimated that, depending on your house, you could save between £160 and £430 annually by installing solar panels.
Similarly, some people have considered adding rainwater collection to their property which, in some cases, can save 50% of water use. The UK may be teased for its rainy weather, but many homeowners are already benefitting from it. Unlike solar panels, rainwater collection is still seen with some scepticism but could be an environmental prerequisite in 10 years’ time. For the now, however, many use a water meter system instead. Allowing you to keep track of your water usage, this is another effective measure to take for a greener lifestyle.
There are some major changes in society that must happen before we live greener lives, but that doesn’t mean there is nothing the average homeowner can do. Making smaller changes to ‘greenify’ your homes could not only save money in the short term, but could help make your property a better investment in the long term.