How to make your home more sustainable

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It’s rewarding to be less wasteful... Not just for the wallet, but also for the soul.

Green home

There’s no escaping it: people are becoming more eco-conscious. And if you’d like to lessen your environmental impact, your own four walls are a good place to begin.

It’s perhaps too onerous and time-consuming for most of us to become completely self-sufficient. But there are certainly steps we can take to lessen both our impact and our outgoings.

So, if you’re looking to lessen your carbon footprint, here are some household tips to get you started. You may even end up saving some money!

H2OMG! Install a water butt

If you’ve got outdoor space, then installing a water butt could reduce your water bills if you’re on a meter. Also known as a rain barrel, this is a tank which collects rainwater via your guttering. Which can then be put to a multitude of uses.

And it’s good for the environment, as you’ll be using less treated water. In any case, rainwater is better for your plants. As it contains organic matter and nitrates, it’s basically fertiliser.

A word of warning before washing your car with rainwater though… Make sure your gutters and water butt are comparatively clean, otherwise your car may go a nice shade of green.

Plus, if you’ve ever wondered why drinking-standard water is used to flush a toilet, well… There’s no good reason. And this exact purpose accounts for approximately 30% of a household’s water use. But with a bit of DIY ingenuity, it’s possible to fill your cistern with water from the butt, provided the butt’s in a higher position.

If that level of DIY skill is beyond you (as it is with this writer), you can still use less water when flushing the toilet by using a water saver. You put them in your cistern, they cost about £1.50, and you can save about three litres per flush. It’s a no-brainer, really.

Take a new approach to energy use

If you’ve been languishing on the same energy tariff for ages, there’s a good chance that you’ll save by switching suppliers or tariffs. And although green and renewable tariffs tend to be a little more expensive than fossil-fuel reliant ones, they’re becoming increasingly competitive. Shop around, and consider companies like Octopus and Good Energy.

A good way of reducing energy use is to ensure your home’s properly insulated. This way it’ll retain warmth, so you don’t have to use your central heating as much. 

Getting your loft insulated is one of the cheapest ways to save energy in the home. It can cost around £300, but should save you enough money that you’ll recoup this in a few years.

If you’ve got an old property, we’ve got a ton of great tips for making your home more energy efficient.

Turn your white goods green

Contrary to what you might expect, using a dishwasher uses about a third or even a quarter of the water used washing by hand. Of course, it’s obviously better to only wash full loads, and use an eco setting.

Likewise, washing clothes at lower temperatures means you’ll be heating less water. Most washing powders and products these days should be able to tackle loads at 30 degrees, no problem.

Cut down on your disposables

Although supermarkets and shops are increasingly introducing initiatives to be less wasteful, food packaging still has a long way to go. See if there are any packaging-free, zero-waste stores in your area for your staples.

Don’t be indifferent to recycling, though. A lot of people don’t see the point, assuming it all goes to landfill. Regardless of our best intentions, some waste can’t be recycled, and will end up getting burned – this much is true. But recycling saves the UK an estimated 18 million tonnes of carbon emissions each year. That’s the equivalent of removing five million cars from our roads.

If you’re a new parent, it’s worth considering reusable nappies. This might sound a bit gross, but they’re getting better with time, and you’ll get used to it quickly. It certainly beats using disposable nappies, which take in the hundreds of years to decompose – no exaggeration.

Grow your own herbs and vegetables

If you fancy living the good life, growing your own veg and herbs is cheap, nutritious, and you sidestep wasteful supermarket packaging. Plus it’s surprisingly satisfying.

And if you’ve installed a water butt and do your own composting , you won’t have to spend too much on additional products to make your garden grow.

If you don’t have a garden, you’ll still have the option of growing herbs, and smaller plants such as chillies. They don’t take up much space – you just need a free windowsill.

And that’s it! Here’s a quick recap for you to take a look at and hopefully tick off as you go:

  • Install a water butt in your garden
  • Pop a water saver in your toilet cistern
  • Switch to a green energy supplier 
  • Insulate your attic 
  • Wash clothes at a lower temperature
  • Use the eco setting on your dishwasher and only run for full loads
  • Cut down on packaged foods from supermarkets and buy plastic-free when possible
  • Recycle recycle recycle
  • Get on board with reusable nappies 
  • Grow your own fruit, veg and herbs