Beyond eco bulbs: how to really make your home more eco-friendly

According to Shrink That Footprint, the typical US household uses 11,700 kWh each year. That’s more than double the 4,600 kWh of the UK, which itself is almost one third higher than the global average of 3,500 kWh. It’s clear that households need to use less energy if we want to save the planet.

There are a few small things you can do to reduce your home’s carbon footprint that require very little effort on your part. Switching to eco-friendly light bulbs, recycling paper and plastic, minimising waste. While small changes like these are essential to green living, the changes are just that: small.

For those who want to keep their carbon footprints to an absolute minimum, there are other, more substantial changes to the home that may require a little more effort, but have a much bigger payoff. To do your part in saving the planet, you should strongly consider the following measures.

Install an energy-efficient boiler

Using as little heating and hot water as possible is one of the easiest small measures that can make your home more eco-friendly, but installing a new boiler can be far more effective.

As LS1 Boiler Installation explains, a new boiler will almost always be far more efficient than an old one, especially if you are switching to a combi boiler from an alternative. Combi boilers only heat water when you use it; traditional boilers heat water usually twice a day and store it in a tank. When the stored water cools down, the boiler heats it up again.

Because of this, combi boilers give users much more control over water usage, and thus energy consumption, meaning your home will be as green as you want it to be.

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Transfer to an eco-friendly energy provider

Switching to an energy efficient boiler is one way to reduce your home’s carbon emissions, but transferring your power supply to a sustainable energy provider will make even more of a difference.

Many households in the UK began to look for sustainable alternatives after British Gas (the default supplier for many) increased its costs this summer. While the majority of energy suppliers around the world still use sources derived from fossil fuels, an increasing number of green energy alternatives are gaining in popularity.

Several websites exist to help you switch to a green energy supplier,. Simply Switch points out that green energy tariffs can be more expensive, “due to the costs of producing renewable energy.”

It’s hard to put a price on saving the environment, though. And if you switch from a traditional boiler to a combi boiler at the same time, you may still end up saving money even if your tariff is more costly.

Improve your insulation

As well as switching boilers and suppliers, there is another change you can make that will reduce your fuel consumption drastically. This time, it has nothing to do with boilers, and everything to do with your home’s insulation.

If your house is well-insulated enough, you will have very little need to heat it up. Insulation in attics and walls can make a huge difference, as can double or even triple glazed windows.

Getting improved insulation will cost a fair amount in the short run, but over time you will actually end up saving money. Think Insulation estimates that 270mm of loft insulation could save a home in England, Scotland or Wales around £140 a year on heating bills. That’s £140-worth of fossil fuels you won’t be using too (unless you also switched to green energy).

Put up some solar panels

If you are truly dedicated to making your home renewable, solar panels could be the answer. As with insulation, an initial cost is offset by future savings. As Energy Saving Trust points out, solar energy is completely free, so there really is no comparing the savings. It’s worth looking into the different kinds of solar panels to decide which is best for you. With some, you can even make money yourself by supplying energy for other homes, through the government’s Feed-in Tariff scheme.

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