Ways to make your home eco-friendly

Man installing a solar panel onto a roof

There are loads of things you can do to make your home as eco-friendly as you are, and you might save money too. Find out how your home can help the planet.

By Joy Persaud

You’ve bought a re-useable drinking bottle, ditched the plastic straws and diligently carry around your coffee cup, but have you thought about the changes you can make at home to make it a little greener?

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with all the information out there, so we’ve rounded-up some changes that can help combat climate change.

Look at boilers and radiators

If you replace broken or outdated goods with eco-friendly versions, you’ll lower bills – and your carbon footprint. 

“Homes and vehicles are among the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK and it’s great to see more and more individuals starting to look at ways to improve their carbon footprint,” says renewables expert Keith Chamberlain of Anesco at Home.

He recommends using less energy, reducing any waste and using renewable heat and power. If you have an old boiler, consider upgrading to a newer one, as these are more efficient and cheaper to run.

Chamberlain adds, “Look at your thermostats and see whether they are set too high. Use a timer to make sure your boiler is only working when you need it to and not heating an empty house.”

Some smart radiators also feature geolocation technology, so your heating will turn on or off when you’re a set distance away.

Another way to make your heating more efficient is to install smart radiators. These eco-friendly aluminium heaters can even detect an open window and will switch off automatically if they do. 

Tieece Gordon of Juice Electrical Supplies says, “With advanced adaptive technology, specific room and zone control, and in-built energy consumption monitors, smart radiators bring us closer to using the exact amount of energy we need. 

“If the radiators are Wi-Fi enabled, heating can be adjusted to your exact schedule from wherever you are on any internet-enabled device – including voice tech like Alexa. Some smart radiators also feature geolocation technology, so your heating will turn on or off when you’re a set distance away.”

To make the most of traditional radiators, you can send 95% of the wasted heat energy from the rear of the radiator back into your room by fitting radiator reflectors.

Use renewable energy

Make sure the gas and electric your home uses are from renewable sources. There are plenty of green energy utility companies, like Ecotricity, Bulb and Green Energy. There’s also an opportunity to switch to greener mobile phone providers, like Ecotalk.

The more of us switching to greener energy suppliers, the less we’ll be reliant of fossil fuels, therefore lowering our overall carbon footprint. Good news for the penguins!

The Energy Saving Trust details various renewable heat options including wood-fuelled heating, which uses pellets, chips or logs. If you buy a wood burner, bear in mind the eco-related laws coming into effect in 2022 – meaning you can only use ‘Ecodesign Ready’ stoves. The Stove Industry Alliance lists many approved models.  

Vicky Naylor of ACR Stoves says: “Burning fossil fuels such as oil and coal is the leading cause of global warming; it sends carbon monoxide (CO), the main greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere, damaging the global climate. In contrast, trees absorb more carbon dioxide whilst growing than they emit when burning, and wood is also a renewable energy source meaning it can be used indefinitely, without depleting the earth’s resources.

“We recommend customers buy seasoned wood from a sustainable forest management scheme, to ensure the wood used will be replaced using reliable methods. Well-managed forests can be a sustainable source of energy that not only helps us to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but also provides natural environments for wildlife.”

Another source of renewable energy is the sun. If your roof gets plenty of sunshine and is suitable for solar panels, you can trap energy for heat. You’ll need an immersion heater to supplement your heat when it’s cloudy, and any excess energy produced can be retained in a thermal store for when needed. 

The Energy Saving Trust recommends thermal stores for use with wood-fuelled biomass boilers, heat pumps, wind energy and solar water heating systems.

Invest in energy-efficient white goods 

If you need to replace white goods, consider those with high ratings for energy efficiency. Some insurance companies, like Aviva, provide A+ rated replacements in line with the company’s stance on sustainability.

Martin Walker, home improvement specialist at Fantastic Services, warns that dishwashers, washing machines, and fridges are the most energy-hungry home appliances.

He says, “Replacing your old washing machines, refrigerators and freezers with newer ones is a big investment, but they're eating your budget more than you might think each time you use them. For example, when you replace an old refrigerator with an A-rated one, you can save up to £200 over its lifecycle. 

When you replace an old refrigerator with an A-rated one, you can save up to £200 over its lifecycle.

“Rated from A to G depending on their efficiency, appliances with A+, A++ and A+++ are always the best choice you can make. The higher, the better.’

Another water-saving device is the smart tap, which dispenses water when a sensor is activated. Elina Enqvist-Twomey of GROHE UK comments, “Infra-red taps are a great solution for family homes, offering independence to young children who are just starting to use the toilet unaccompanied but who also may be prone to leaving the tap running.” 

Insulate

Another area worth checking is your home insulation. Rob Gallon, director of NSUSL, warns that around 30% of the heat in a home can be lost through walls. 

“The loft, or roof, of a property, is responsible for roughly 25% of heat loss,” adds Gallon. “Insulating your home can save lots of money and energy. It regulates the temperature inside your home, keeping the warm air inside, and reduces the amount of cold air entering the property.’

If you’re happy your walls and roof space are adequately insulated, inspect your windows and doors. Nick Cowley, MD of Euramax, says a semi-detached house that uses double glazing with a PVCu frame can save up to £124 on annual energy bills. 

“The most valuable way to save energy is to ensure that your windows and doors are A-rated, meaning they are the most energy-efficient,” says Cowley.

Finally, consider eco-friendly window coverings, such as the innovative range by Apollo Blinds. Matt Thomas, the firm’s design director, says: “In a bid to address the growing amount of plastic in the ocean, we now stock window blinds that are made from recovered ocean plastic.”

The company also recycles pre-loved fabrics into made-to-measure window blinds.

There's more we can all do to help

From sustainable investments to eco-homes, see the little changes we can make to invest in our planet and build a greener future for us all.