When we did up our first family home we did a few eco-friendly things such as linking our solar panels to our heating, sourcing some reclaimed materials and repurposing some of the items already in the house. There is definitely a lot more we could have done and we become more inspired by green living as time goes on. Here are some ideas of green home improvements that are eco-friendly:
We were very lucky to move into a home which already had solar panels owned outright. By buying the property the contract was legally transferred to us. Not only do we generate electricity to use in our own home from this renewable source, but any excess is sent to the grid for which they send us a cheque every three months. Nice! We also linked it to our hot water system so some of our hot water is heated by the solar panels before the boiler has to kick in. Solar panels reduce the amount of non-renewable energy sources we have to use.
Switch to a renewable energy supplier
Not technically a home improvement, but whilst we’re on the topic of energy and being green it’s worth a mention. Earlier this year we switched to a 100% renewable energy supplier that is actually cheaper than the Big Six saving us an estimated £240 per year and we feel less guilty using so much energy knowing they are using sourcing from renewable sources. The company we switched to is Bulb and you can get £50 credit if you sign up here: https://bulb.co.uk/refer/benjamins1007
There are lots of renewable ways to source electric nowadays and even if you aren’t able to have wind or solar power directly on your home, you can still choose a renewable electric energy provider to make sure your electricity is responsibly sourced, as exampled above.
With this in mind, it makes sense from a sustainable point of view to have as many electric appliances in your home as possible. For example, you can choose an electric oven instead of gas, or an electric BBQ instead of a gas or coal version. It’s these switches that can stop us using so many fossil fuels and convert our energy consumption to renewable sources only.
The same goes with our vehicles. As electric vehicles become the norm and prices become more affordable, it’s vital we all make the switch as soon as possible. This will stop us consuming so much non-renewable energy as well as reducing air pollution.
It’s now possible to have an electric car charging point installed on your driveway from a government approved electric car charger point installer and then use your home’s renewable electric to charge your own car!
Double or triple glazed windows
Good quality and properly fitted double or triple glazed windows are a great investment to the home. These will stop heat escaping from the home and help to keep the warmth inside. Two of our windows are very old and definitely need replacing. I can feel draughts coming through them and street noise is not blocked out at all – two signs of an ill fitted window. It’s on my to-do list and I know it will be a costly job, but luckily there are plenty of retailers with discounted windows for sale so I hope to complete this in the next couple of years. It will definitely be worth it to save on heating bills and stop unnecessarily wasting energy.
Reclaimed wood flooring
It’s possible to purchase reclaimed wood flooring instead of buying new. It will have an aged authentic charm that freshly cut wood just doesn’t have. There are sites online that sell reclaimed flooring from places such as American barns, French chateaus and Victorian factories. It’s even possible to have reclaimed wood flooring that is made from old cupboard doors and cabinets. Sadly we chose our oak effect laminate flooring in B&Q, but we did ensure they were responsibly sourced, FSC approved timber. You can even get recycled vinyl flooring nowadays!
Check your insulation
Having proper insulation within your walls and roof will ensure your home stays warm and does not lose heat in the colder months. There are often government grants and schemes to provide poorly insulated houses with more up to date and effective insulation solutions. It’s worth checking for current schemes as you may qualify for funding to insulate your home.
Use non-toxic paints
Painting your home is one of the easiest and often least expensive home improvements, but have you considered the number of toxins in regular wall paint? There are numerous and they can be damaging for short and long term health. Nowadays it’s possible to buy more natural paints that do not contain VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) that leach out into the air and then into our lungs. These toxic emissions can cause headaches, dizziness, memory loss and more. It may take a little more searching than your average DIY store to find these Earth friendly paints, but it will be worth it for your health and the planet’s.
One thing on our never-ending list of home improvements is decking. My husband Ben built a wonderful roofed veranda in our garden, but it’s totally ruined by the old and outdated patio that lies under it. We really want to add decking to create a beautiful outdoor seating space that’s aesthetically pleasing too. Ben loves working with reclaimed wood and has considered using pallets to create a unique outdoor deck, but I’ve been researching composite decking which looks like a great solution. It’s created from recycled wood and plastic as well as many companies claiming it is much more durable than regular wood decking and doesn’t rot.
There are numerous ways you can begin to improve your home whilst keeping it eco-friendly too. We have ticked several of these off our list and still have a few to go which I hope we can cross off in the next couple of years.
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