Energy-saving and environmentally-friendly enhancements may be good for the planet – but they are also good for your home and your pocket. So what are the top eco-friendly, ‘smart’ home improvements that you could be making?
With ‘home improvement’ searches up 380% according to Google Trends, it seems we’re focused on updating and fixing-up our homes during lockdown. Interestingly, according to a recent report by Rated People, nearly a third of homeowners (31%) are looking to specifically take on eco-related work at home this year – showing that energy efficiency and green issues are of high importance to homeowners.
The report, which surveyed over 1,000 UK homeowners, also reveals the top ten eco focuses that homeowners are tackling – with the number one improvement being to install smart lighting, energy efficient LED bulbs that can be automated and controlled via an app. Nearly a third (31%) are making this style of lighting their priority with their home improvements, with upgrading to eco-friendly appliances and double-glazing next on the list.
TOP 10 ECO-FRIENDLY HOME IMPROVEMENTS
Save water, energy and precious resources with the most advanced ‘smart’ products for your home.
1. REDUCE ELECTRICITY USE WITH SMART LIGHTING
The latest innovations mean that you don’t have to completely overhaul a scheme in order to make a difference. Many smart lights allow you to control the light directly from your smart phone, meaning no more wondering if you left the light on once you are in bed, or have left the house.
2. UPGRADE TO ECO-FRIENDLY APPLIANCES
As energy bills continue to soar, choosing eco-friendly appliances now makes both financial and environmental sense. In the past, ‘going green’ would have limited your choices significantly, but this is an area that now tops manufacturers’ agendas so you’ll find much more choice – and style – in appliances designed to save power, water and money.
3. INVEST IN DOUBLE-GLAZING
Choosing new windows isn’t a purchase made lightly and few of us have expert knowledge when it comes to selecting glazing products, which can make the process seem daunting. Fortunately, there are plenty of informative organisations, such as the Glass and Glazing Federation (GGF), which can offer impartial advice. Recent advances in glass technology means that double glazing and thermal glazing can also improve a home’s energy efficiency, eliminating drafts and reflecting heat back into an interior.
4. INTRODUCE CAVITY WALL INSULATION
Most house dating from the 1920s onwards have cavity walls, yet insulation only tends to come as standard in those built in the past 20 years. Cavity walls are composed of two laters separated by a narrow gap, so they should be insulated to retain warmth. A registered installer can check whether your external walls are filled and, if not, their suitability for insulation.
5. INSTALL SOLAR PANELS
Rooftop solar panels capture the sun’s energy, even on a cloudy day, and convert it into electricity which can then be used for lighting and household appliances.
6. START A COMPOST HEAP
Composting is an inexpensive, environmentally-friendly process, which turns household waste into nutrient-rich compost for your garden. Making your own compost is simple and makes such financial sense when you consider how much garden centres charge for a sack of multi-purpose and how many you get through, on average, each year.
The key to good compost is balance – add too much of one thing and you won’t get the best results. Combine woody cutting with grass clippings, green peels from the kitchen, shredded paper and bit of cardboard. garden.
7. OPT FOR SOLAR WATER HEATING
Solar thermal systems can use free heat from the sun to warm domestic hot water. And heat pumps and biomass boilers can also generate heat for the home. The good news is that there’s never been a better time to install renewable devices in the home. There are several government financial incentives available, such as the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) for renewable heat technologies and the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) for solar panels. For more information visit the Energy Saving Trust.
8. SET UP AN ELECTRIC CAR PORT
Driving an electric vehicle can help to eliminate harmful exhaust pollutants and emissions such as particulates, which are known to cause respiratory health problems. Transport is the main source of greenhouse gases in the UK, with passenger cars the biggest contributor of carbon dioxide emissions.
9. CONSIDER A BIOMASS BOILER OR STOVE
Biomass is a biological material derived from living organisms – for heating this means wood and for the home it’s generally in pellet form. A biomass boiler heats water for central heating or hot water, while a biomass stove heats a room. You’ll need space for the wood pellets.
10. INSTATE A HEAT PUMP
Heat pumps reduce your carbon footprint over time. They work to provide space heating and space cooling at the touch of a button using a wall monitor, a remote or even a phone app. Heat pumps convert energy into heat more efficiently compared to other heating systems.
The results confirm that interest in making green changes to the home is increasing, with a 17% rise in people undertaking eco-friendly improvements compared to last year. Tradespeople are also seeing this reflected in the work they are being booked for, 29% have seen a rise in green-related jobs.