75 x 190cm
How to Make Your Home More Eco-Friendly
How eco-friendly is your home?
There are all sorts of changes you can make to adapt your home and make it that little bit kinder to the planet. Choosing the right materials and considering how we use resources can really make a difference. Not only that, it can save you some money and, additionally, if you’re looking to sell your home, add some value to your property.
Looking to make your home that little bit greener? Then you’ve come to the right place. This is the Bedstar guide to making your home more eco-friendly.
Getting eco-friendly with your living room
The living room presents stellar opportunities to show the environment you care and infuse your home with eco-friendly intention. Here are a couple of tips on how to bring some eco-friendliness to your living room:
Keep your décor green
The walls and flooring are a major feature of a living room, so you’ll want to use greener materials and to avoid using any harmful products in your living room. Many people forget about the décor when going green and focus solely on the furniture. Use eco-friendly adhesives, coatings and carpeting so you can reduce your carbon footprint (the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere through your activities).
Refinish and repurpose your own furniture
Making your own furniture reduces your carbon footprint because you’re not using the same chemicals and processes that large manufacturers use to make their products. Of course, it takes a little more skill, but it’s not completely impossible, especially if you repurpose furniture rather than build new furniture from scratch. If you’re planning to get rid of a wooden bed, for instance, stop for a moment and ask if you could make use of the wood for anything else? Is there potential for a shelf, perhaps?
Giving your bedroom the eco-friendly touch
The bedroom is a place for rest and intimacy, but while you rest the planet struggles. It doesn’t have to be this way. Rest in your room and lend the planet a helping hand with the measures below:
Choose an eco-friendly mattress
Your bedding can really make a difference. Some firms make their linen from organic cotton and treat it with non-toxic dyes, which means they’re a viable option for anyone who cares about the planet. It’s not just in terms of the bedding, however, that some manufacturers in the sleep industry are trying to meet the demands of environmentally conscious consumers. Did you know, for instance, that the brand Silentnight has produced its ‘Eco Comfort’ range with the help of recycled plastic bottles? That’s right. The brand has used the bottles in its fillings.
Add some drapes
Make the most of your curtains to leverage heat from the sun. Some cheap cotton drapes can help you achieve this. In the summer, they block heat, whereas in winter they trap it. When the warm season comes, you close them in the morning but open them in the evening. In the colder season, you do the exact opposite. Drapes are handy if you have draughty windows but don’t want to replace them or can’t replace them.
Show some environmental consciousness in your kitchen
The kitchen is a busy place and also one in which we can lessen the impact on the planet with eco-friendly materials. Read on and find out how in this section:
Birch plywood is a superb material for eco-friendly units and is something of a trend when it comes to sustainable kitchens. The wood is made from thin sheets of wood sandwiched together for strength but little waste. Other eco-friendly materials include melamine-faced chipboard (MFC) and medium-density fibreboard (MDF) if they use recycled timber or recycled chipboard. Ideally, the wood should comprise a high proportion of the final product. Note that it may be a little bit more expensive, but it’s a small price to pay for the good of the planet.
Floors and walls
Bamboo and boards made from ethically sourced timbers are widely available, but there are other options if these don’t grab you. Resin is a fantastic covering for walls and floors but doesn’t get the recognition some feel it deserves. When made from natural polymers, resin can replicate the appearance of polished concrete but takes less chemicals and water to produce.
If you’re painting your kitchen, paint it with low volatile organic compound (VOC) paints. VOCs are the chemicals behind the fresh paint smell we get when decorating. Unfortunately, they’re neither good for ourselves nor for the environment. Rather than paint the kitchen, another option is to tile it and you can do this sustainably by purchasing from tile manufacturers who use recycled materials to make their tiles.
Making your bathroom eco friendly
The bathroom is a place for washing, grooming and, generally, helping to maintain your own personal hygiene, as well as to visit the toilet. As you’d expect, you’ll be using water for this, which makes saving water a major focus when it comes to improving the eco-friendliness of your bathroom. Here are a few tips to make that happen:
Fit a recirculating water pump
A recirculating water pump beneath the sink is handy to have. As well as saving water, the pump provides you with convenience because the tap delivers the hot water instantly. Every time you use it you can be saving 3 to 5 gallons of water.
Install low-flow facilities
It’s a bathroom, so, of course, you’re going to run the taps a lot or use more water than in other rooms of the house. Did you know, for instance, that a toilet uses around 27% of the water that you use in the home? That’s a major opportunity to add an eco-friendly touch to your bathroom. Think low-flow and install a low-flow toilet. Some models have a dual flush which allows you to cut back on the water and flush in line with the type of waste you need to get rid of.
Think low flow for your shower, too. A low-flow shower head will let you stay under the warm water longer but have a less detrimental impact on the environment. A standard shower head uses around 5 to 8 gallons of water per minute, whereas a low-flow one can cut this back to just 2.5 gallons per minute. Not only do you save water, but you’ll also save heat energy as well, which means lower energy bills and more money in your pocket.
Getting green in the garden
In a garden, you can relax and soak up the sun. That or perhaps you’re more the green-fingered type who finds doing a spot of gardening itself to be relaxing. The garden is another fantastic place in which you can do your bit for the planet. Follow these suggestions to make it happen:
Make your own compost
Making your own compost allows you to recycle green waste for the purpose and, as a side benefit, saves you money on bagged compost and soil conditioner. Teabags, lawn clippings, hedge trimmings, shredded newspapers, vegetable peelings, leaves and vacuum cleaner contents are all good to go into your compost.
Improve your soil
Adding compost to soil improves its water-holding capacity and provides it with organic matter, helping the plants to grow and stay healthy. A wealth of essential microorganisms will populate the soil. The soil will develop the strength to fight off disease, rather than succumb to it. You should dig in a bucket full of compost every few feet when you’re planting or you can spread some compost around plants as a mulch every spring. This latter measure will stop the rain from washing away lighter soils.
Run-off from concrete paving can contribute to flooding and damage local wildlife significantly. As such, according to law, you should now use permeable surfacing materials for paving in front gardens. If you plan to build a driveway of more than 5m˛ with impermeable materials, you must request planning permission first. Crunchy gravel and slate chippings are fine alternative materials to paving, but you can also get porous paving or grass reinforced with recycled plastic grids, depending on your preferences.
Heating and insulation
When we don’t insulate our homes well enough, we walk over to the thermostat and turn the dial up higher than necessary. In some cases, we might not even be heating our homes sustainably in the first place. This section provides you with some tips on how to change all that:
Upgrade your windows
UVC is a common material for window frames, but it emits toxic compounds, so opt for wooden window frames instead. They’re long-lasting, insulate better and do the environment a greater favour. Order double glazing instead of single glazing to insulate your home better. You can reinforce the insulation by adding some thick curtains to really conserve the energy.
Use heat control technology
Implementing a remote control heating system such as Nest can help you manage your heating much more effectively. The system gives you the freedom to heat your home when you need to and from wherever you are. You can simply control the temperature and the time from your phone. The wonders of technology!
Be wary of fires
Wood-burning fires are a disaster for the environment. If you do have one, use wood that hasn’t been painted or treated. Don’t burn any rubbish or packaging. They may release harmful substances into the atmosphere. If you must have a wooden fire, choose a low emissions one and get a HETAS-approved chimney sweep to inspect your chimney and clean it regularly. This will allow fewer dangerous chemicals to escape into the atmosphere.
Getting serious with water
Water is a precious resource, one we take for granted. Thinking about how we use water and making efforts to consume less of it can benefit the environment. Here are a few tips for conserving water, plus considerations for other ways in which taking water into account can make your home greener:
Fill your dishwasher
Dishwashers — sometimes we just bang our dishes in and switch them on without thinking about it. Dishwashers provide scope to save a little water and energy, however. It’s just a simple question of only turning on your dishwasher when it’s full. Don’t do a full cycle if you only have a few dishes. Some dishwashers have a top-rack only setting. Make the most of it.
Cold water for washing clothes
Did you know that washing clothes with hot water can actually set stains, making them harder to get out? Washing your clothes in cold water can be just as effective when it comes to stain removal.
Water the plants with rainwater
Set up a rainwater tank in your garden. The tank will collect rainwater with which you can water the plants. When watering your plants, water them at the end of the day or early in the morning so that the heat doesn’t cause the water to evaporate. Water around the soil so that the water goes to the roots easier.
Gardening tasks aren’t the only way to make use of rainwater. There are different types of tanks available and you can incorporate a water tank into your house’s systems for flushing the toilet.
It’s no secret that if we become more efficient with energy, we do the planet a good turn. There are so many different ways to approach energy usage. Some are so simple, too. Try these suggestions for a greener approach to consuming energy:
Switch to renewables
When it comes to energy, switching to a renewable energy supplier has to be one of the most environmentally friendly things you can do! It’s easy to do and because the energy is 100% renewable, you’ll have a virtually zero carbon footprint as far as your energy usage is concerned. Nice!
Turn things off
This should be so obvious that we don’t really need to say it, but leaving appliances on standby consumes energy unnecessarily. What a waste! Switch off your appliances if you’re not using them and see your energy bills fall.
Maintenance of appliances is an important way to save energy. They can end up consuming more energy if you don’t keep them in good condition. Check your boiler. If it’s not an energy-efficient model, upgrade to one (you should be changing your boiler every 10 years anyway). Other appliances to watch out for include ovens, fireplaces and heaters, all of which can also emit pollutants if you don’t look after them.
Use CFL light bulbs
Did you know that compact fluorescent light bulbs use more than 75% less energy than incandescent ones? Not only this, they last up to 10 times longer, which makes them a welcome addition to any home. You’ll trim down your energy bills by using them, too. The only issue is that CFL light bulbs aren’t always as bright.
If you want brighter lights in your rooms, you may prefer LED light bulbs. Unfortunately, these light bulbs can be expensive, but if you’re using them in a place where energy is expensive, then you’ll see gain back the money you spend in savings as time goes on.
Caring for your home and for the planet
Energy consumption and water consumption are big concerns when it comes to transforming your home into a more eco-friendly property, as are the materials that go into our furniture and the chemicals they contain. Focusing on these aspects in your home can help the planet to breathe slightly easier.
When it comes to cleaning your home and caring for it, be sure to use eco-friendly / non-toxic cleaning products and also to check any appliances. It’s a question of not releasing anything harmful into the atmosphere and, in the case of the appliances, ensuring they’re not consuming more energy than need be.
Keeping in mind the wellbeing of the planet doesn’t just do you the environment a favour, but also your wallet. Adapting your home and lifestyle to consume less resources keeps more of your money in your pocket, so if not for the environment, then hopefully you’ll do it just to save some coin. Ideally, though, the planet should come first.