Making your home more sustainable isn’t just good for the environment, it’s good for your wallet too.
Our homes are big energy guzzlers, responsible for almost one-third of energy consumption in the UK, according to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. While we all understand that using less energy equals lower energy bills, we may not realise that going green increases property values too. A report by the Department on Energy and Climate Change found that making a home more sustainable could increase its value by an average of 14%, and as much as 38% in some regions.
What Is a Sustainable Home?
At its most basic, a sustainable home is one that has a minimal impact on the environment and is as energy efficient as possible, with the ultimate goal being a ‘net-zero’ home – a dwelling that produces as much energy as it consumes. For new building projects, this means using sustainably produced building materials, installing a sustainable energy source such as solar panels, and even orientating the home to benefit from the free energy produced by passive solar gain. For older homes, it’s all about taking steps to reduce the impact on the natural environment, with the most important actions being a reduction in energy use and conserving water.
Eighty percent of the energy used inside the home is for heating water and space. This is where the greatest focus needs to be when thinking about your home’s green credentials. Insulation is the single most effective way of reducing energy consumption. According to the Energy Saving Trust, one-third of a home’s heating is lost through uninsulated external walls, and the average detached house in the UK would save £250 a year by installing cavity wall insulation.
Other quick wins include:
Draught-proofing windows, external doors and chimneys
Upgrading your boiler to a newer more efficient model
Hanging thermal lined curtains to prevent energy loss through windows
When it’s time to replace your white goods, buying the most energy-efficient models you can afford
Reducing Water Waste
When we turn on the tap, the clean water that flows out has been treated with chemicals and pumped to our home, using energy in the process. Cutting down on the amount of water we use helps conserve energy as well as reduces our water bills. Quick fixes include installing water-efficient bathroom fixtures such as dual-flush toilets and low-flow showerheads. In the garden, using a water butt to harvest rainwater is an environmentally friendly way to take care of your plants in the summer.
Although the inside of our homes has the greatest impact on the environment, there are ways to be more eco-friendly in the garden too. For instance, hard landscaping may be low maintenance, but it prevents runoff water from seeping into the soil and contributes to flash flooding. By using gravel or pebbles, it’s possible to have a hard surface while still allowing rainwater to run into the ground. Growing native plants in the garden is not only good for wildlife and pollination, but native plants are also adapted to our climate and conditions and require less watering and fertilisation.
Sustainability isn’t always about the big things. It’s about the small switches you make at home with the most impact. So whether you invest in the latest washing machine or try to cut back on water consumption, these efforts stand to set you, and our planet, in good stead as we enter a new decade.