Being eco-friendly means different things to different people. If you leave aside the skeptics who won’t be convinced by anything less than the immediate heat death of the planet, most of us would say we are eco-aware. The reasons we would offer as justification do vary, though. You have vegetarians and vegans. People who recycle and upcycle. You’ve got freegans, green motorists, and alternative energy innovators. And you’ve got plenty of people who are a bit of all the above.
The trickiest thing about being eco-aware is that there are so many things to be aware of. You can be so tightly focused on the little things that you lose sight of the bigger issues. It’s entirely possible to think you’re living a green life because you drive an electric car. But then you take a look in your fridge and everything in there comes from half a world away. Does this make you a bad environmentalist? No, you’re doing more than most. But we all have room for improvement.
Doing your bit for the planet starts, quite literally, at home. The effect we are having on the environment comes chiefly from the energy we use. And if your home isn’t energy efficient, then you’re missing off a core aspect of real green living. Again, it doesn’t make you an eco-traitor. It just means you may need a refresher in the things that could be a drain on your household energy, and how to fix them.
Don’t End Up In Hot Water – Literally!
In most homes, as standard, the hot water system is set higher than it needs to be. Remember that most appliances that need hot water heat it themselves these days. Your dishwasher, shower, and washer will all do this. So you’re down to needing hot water for your wash basin, bath and various household chores. Now, answer honestly. Do you sometimes pull your hand back from the tap cursing because it’s so hot?
A lot of us do. It just doesn’t need to be so hot, full stop. And heating it to that level uses a lot of energy unnecessarily. So find the thermostat and turn it down. You’ll save money, help the planet and curse less often. Perfect!
Don’t Hug Trees – Plant Them!
Yes, we’ve all heard the edgy insults thrown at eco-warriors, and they don’t get any more amusing the thousandth time you hear them. Better to be a tree-hugger than a planet destroyer any day. But if you’re going to embrace the cliche (rather than a friendly oak), it is worth planting a tree or two in your garden. The benefits go beyond the obvious, although the obvious is still awesome.
Yes, more trees mean more oxygen and less carbon dioxide, which is fantastic. Also, they perform a valuable role in summer. You may not be able to function without an air conditioner, but you could find a way to run it less often. By planting trees near any sun-facing window, you can reduce the amount of heat that comes through. Think of it as nature’s own insulation. It’s especially useful if you can’t get actual insulation.
Unseen Issues Could Be Costing You $$$
Any human being can be forgiven for forgetting the things they cannot see. There is a reason for the old saying “out of sight, out of mind”. And there may be hidden issues in your home that are making it less energy efficient.
For example, if you look up at your roof from outside the house, it probably looks fine. It may well be fine; however, it could be hiding a defect that won’t become obvious for years. A roof could have a fault that is causing the home to lose heat in winter and let it in six months later. You could be ignorant of this until such time as it starts leaking water, which can take a decade or more. A call to the likes of SonShine Roofing, an inspection, and a quick fix later, you could be more energy efficient and save money.
You’ll probably be aware if drafts are getting in around your windows; that’s hard to miss. There are other places that they can get in that may be less obvious, though. Keep an eye on wiring holes – such as where the phone line or TV cable comes through the wall – as this may be a point of ingress. Even a small amount of putty could make a big difference for this. Also check any areas where walls join other walls.
Are You Using Two Appliances Where One Will Do?
Most newly-built appliances are highly energy-efficient, and if you have had the same fridge for a decade or so, it may be time to replace it. Of course, if money is an object and your current one is running fine, then there is an argument for keeping it around. However, if you are currently running a fridge and a freezer, think carefully about a change. Selling both – even if for scrap – and replacing them with a combined appliance will use less energy.
Combi appliances are available for a number of purposes. As well as the fridge-freezer you might consider a washer-dryer. By law, all appliances now need to have an energy rating that shows how efficient they are. Also, if you buy a dryer with a condenser attachment, you’ll vent fewer gases into the atmosphere and can reuse the water in your garden.
Don’t beat yourself up about things you may miss in the process of keeping an energy-efficient home. The fact you are doing anything at all means that you’re doing more than many people. And none of us ticks off 100% of the boxes any of the time, let alone all the time. Just keep the end goal in mind – a greener home and in the long run a greener world. If you ever need an incentive in that direction, remember that it will save you money too – which is never a bad thing.