Research conducted by the Committee on Climate Change found that 40% of the UK’s carbon emissions come from households. While the average carbon footprint of a UK household has reduced (from 12.8 tonnes of CO2 1990 to 8.1 in 2014), there’s still a long way to go if we want to tackle climate change.
An 80% reduction in the total UK carbon emissions is required by 2050 if we want to combat the serious effects of climate change. For households, this translates as a further reduction of 3.6 tonnes of CO2 by 2030. These statistics might sound overwhelming, but it’s actually far easier to reduce your carbon footprint than you may think. Making a few small changes in your household can quickly add up, and many can help save you money on your energy bills too.
If you’ve been thinking about making changes to your lifestyle and want to make your home more environmentally friendly, then there’s plenty that can help. We’ve rounded up some of the best changes you can make below, from larger initiatives like solar panels, to quick and easy swaps like switching to LED bulbs.
The average home wastes up to 11,000 gallons of water per year by simply waiting for it to heat up. Try to be more mindful of the water you’re using (or wasting) – even small things like turning off the tap when you’re brushing your teeth can make all the difference.
You could also use a bucket or jug to collect excess water while you’re waiting for it to heat up, then use it to water plants or boil it for cooking. Try using the cold water setting on your washing machine more often too, it’s usually perfectly efficient unless you have stubborn stains to remove, like oil. If you’re worried that your clothes won’t be as clean as you’d like, try reducing the temperature of your wash.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to have freezing cold showers from now on, but you can still reduce your water consumption by installing a low flow shower head. These are designed to reduce the amount of water wasted and they can save up to 2,000 gallons of water per person each year.
Solar panels are essential if you want to get serious about running an eco home in the long term. They might not be possible for everyone as they are an expensive initial investment and it can take around 20 years to break even depending on where you live.
However, if you’re lucky enough to own your own home and can afford it, investing in solar panels is one of the most efficient ways to make your home more environmentally friendly. Solar panels provide completely clean electricity by converting light from the sun into energy. In some cases, they can even generate enough energy to allow you to sell some back to the grid. They can also save you money on your energy bills year on year, so for many people the investment is more than worth it.
Energy efficient light bulbs
Switching your light bulbs is a very quick and easy change, but it can make a big difference. Swap traditional incandescent bulbs for LED lighting for a more energy efficient, environmentally friendly home. LED bulbs use less electricity, last much longer, and can even save you money on your electricity bills.
Incandescent bulbs use around five times as much power to produce the same amount of light as an LED bulb, and most of this is wasted as heat. Incandescent bulbs waste around 90% of their energy as heat, with only 10% emitted as light. In comparison, LED bulbs convert up to 95% of their energy into light, with very little wasted as heat.
Use a smart thermostat
We all want to be cosy and warm during the colder months, but households can waste a lot of money and energy by leaving their heating on when it isn’t needed. Installing a smart thermostat (or smart meter) can monitor your energy usage and help make your home more environmentally friendly.
Smart thermostats can be programmed to turn on at certain points during the day (e.g an hour before you wake up and just before you get home from work). They also allow you to control the temperature, and lowering it by just one or two degrees can help to reduce your carbon footprint.
Some smart meters even allow you to control the temperature room by room, saving you more money and energy by not heating rooms which aren’t in use. Less energy use also costs less money, so there are a lot of savings to be made on your heating bills.
Natural cleaning products
The harsh chemicals found in cleaning products can be harmful to the environment, releasing volatile organic compounds which can pollute nearby water supplies. The fumes can also cause irritation to your eyes or throat, so many strong cleaning products are harmful to both our health and the environment.
Luckily, there are plenty of natural alternatives which are just as effective. Try swapping caustic chemical based cleaning products for solutions containing natural ingredients like vinegar, citric acid or bicarbonate of soda. You can make your own cleaning products or purchase them from an eco-friendly company.
Up your recycling
Many of us already make efforts to recycle leftover glass, plastic and cardboard wherever possible, but try buying recycled products too to increase your eco-friendly credentials. You can now purchase a wide range of products made from recycled materials, including everyday items like toilet roll or kitchen towel.
If possible, recycle old furniture too, or upcycle old items to use in your garden, e.g turn an old chest of drawers into eco-friendly planters. If you have a garden then it’s a good idea to start recycling your food waste too, with a compost heap. Simply place a compost bin in your garden and fill it with leftover food scraps and other green waste (like grass cuttings). Creating your own compost also gives you access to free fertilizer whenever you need, which comes in handy for the next idea below!
Grow your own
We’ve become so used to being able to access fresh food as and when we want it, even if items are out of season. It might feel like a treat to enjoy fresh strawberries in the depths of winter, but importing food out of season has a huge impact on our carbon footprint.
Try growing your own instead; it’s delicious, cheaper and much better for the environment. You don’t need a whole allotment plot or even a garden either, simply growing some herbs on a windowsill is a good place to start. Plants also produce oxygen which helps to offset CO2 emissions, so it’s a great excuse to fill your house with greenery.
If you’re starting indoors, try planting carrots, leafy greens, microgreens or herbs. These can all be grown relatively easy in pots on a windowsill, or if you have space outdoors, try green beans, courgettes, spring onions or tomatoes.
Environmentally Friendly Lighting Across Scotland and Northern England – From Interlink Lighting & Electrical
If you’ve been thinking about making some eco-friendly changes to your home or commercial premises, get in touch with the team at Interlink Lighting & Electrical. We’re proud to supply and install environmentally friendly lighting solutions to properties across Scotland and Northern England. Our LED lighting options are extremely cost effective, and they can reduce your carbon footprint and save you money on your energy bills.
Our qualified engineers have experience installing lighting in a wide range of properties and we can adapt our lighting solutions to suit your requirements. For more information or to find out about our wide range of lighting services, including maintenance and emergency light testing, give us a call today or visit our website.