Did you know that 40% of Britain’s carbon footprint comes from household energy use? What’s more, the wealthiest 10% of households produce three times as much carbon dioxide per year as the poorest 10%, so it’s not a case of people just using what they need.
Most of us can do a lot to reduce our carbon footprints by changing our approach to energy in the home. We can also reduce the quantity of other pollutants we produce and reduce the strain we place on natural resources. Some of this involves changing the way we make big purchases, but there are also many small changes that can make a big difference and when many people make these changes, it can have a significant impact on the world.
Get smart about appliances
All major appliances now have energy ratings that make it easier to make environmentally friendly choices when you buy. Alongside this, you should consider the longevity of each item. Washing machines with sealed drums, for instance, last an average of one third as long as machines that can be more easily repaired, and the production of each individual machine has a significant environmental impact, so it’s better to invest a bit more upfront and get a longer-lasting machine if you can. You should also think about how you use appliances. Wait until you have a full load to do the laundry. Try to keep your fridge and freezer as full as possible so that they run more efficiently (but don’t buy more than you need and let food go to waste). Only fill the kettle up as much as you need, each time you use it.
Switch to LED lighting
Most people have now made the switch from old fashioned light bulbs to energy saving ones, but did you know how much better LED ones are? They cost a bit more up front but they can last for as long as a decade, meaning you’ll spend a lot less time balancing on ladders, and they’re much more efficient. Unlike the previous generation of energy saving bulbs, they don’t need time to warm up to reach full brightness, and it doesn’t use extra energy to turn them on and off. They’re also available in a great range of colours and can produce a much warmer, more pleasant light.
Rethink your windows
Glazing techniques are another area where technology has improved massively in recent years, so double glazing is an increasingly good bet, and many householders are in fact making the switch to triple glazing, especially if they live in colder areas of the country. Of course, it’s most important to stop heat leaking out through your windows at night, when outdoor temperatures drop, so consider fitting ethically sourced forest friendly shutters to provide traditional high-quality insulation. You can also collect solar energy through your windows, using it to power freestanding solar appliances like toasters.
Energy isn’t the only issue you should consider when creating a more eco-friendly home. You can reduce pollution by choosing natural materials for your furniture, wall coverings and carpets, obviating the damaging manufacturing processes involved in producing many kinds of plastics. You can also make a big difference by switching to simpler cleaning products. Vinegar, baking soda and plain bleach are all you need for most household cleaning tasks. Many commercial products are bad for the environment.
Repair, reuse, and recycle
You already know the drill, but these three things still really matter, and we often fail to apply them as widely as we might. In the home, this extends to buying second-hand furniture and giving away items we no longer want to charity shops or putting them on Freecycle. Even when furniture falls apart, the materials in it can often be used to make something else. Repairing furniture is easier than you might think, especially with the wealth of instructional YouTube videos out there that show you how. Needless to say, this approach can also save you a lot of money!
Making changes like this in your home can make it a lot more eco-friendly. In many ways, they’re about getting into a new mindset – or an old one, from before the time when people got into the habit of simply using things up and then throwing them away. The more you change your habits of thinking, the more you’ll be alert to opportunities to make a difference. What matters then is persuading other people to do the same.