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26 Low-Cost Ways to Make your Home More Eco-Friendly

Published: 19/04/2018

It’s never been so important for people to live more sustainably.

But ‘Going Green’ isn’t just good for the planet - it can often save you money, especially if you think long-term.

There are dozens of ways to make your home more eco-friendly, without breaking the bank. We’re going to share a few of our favourite ideas with you, because here at Roundtree, we’re nice like that.

In the Bathroom

Many people find taking a shower to be more convenient, cleansing and refreshing than a bath. It saves a huge amount of water too, provided you don’t stay in for too long. You can also fit a low-flow shower head, which still feels great, but will reduce your water usage further. Over the course of a year, you could see your water bills dramatically cut.

Refreshing just to look at, no?

Buying recycled toilet paper for your bathroom will cost you only slightly more, but it means fewer trees being cut down. Most supermarkets now stock their own-brand recycled toilet paper too, which are just pennies more than non-recycled.

Do you have a habit of flushing used cotton wool buds down the loo when you’re done with them? If so, you may be in for a shock - this practise is so bad for the marine environment that the government is considering a ban on cotton wool buds. Chuck them in the bin instead.

Another great tip for reducing the amount of water you use in your bathroom is to place a standard household brick, sealed in a plastic bag, into your toilet cistern. This ensures you get the same flush pressure, with significantly less water used. Some water companies also give away Save-a Flush bags free of charge.

In the Kitchen

Household cleaning products will often contain lots of very unpleasant chemicals that eventually find their way into the water supply. There are plenty of natural alternatives out there, and you can also make your own cleaning products with ease. Of course not everyone swears by this approach, and some elbow grease will still be needed, but any small changes you can make will help.

Is it getting time to replace one of your kitchen appliances, such as the washing machine or fridge? Paying a little more for an energy-efficient model will pay off in the long run, as looked-after and not overworked, they can last you for at least 15-20 years. Here’s a little-known fact about fridges - if they’re located in direct sunlight, they actually need to work harder to regulate the temperature inside. So to save more money on your electricity bill, move your fridge into a shaded part of the kitchen.

Microwaving uses far less energy than turning on the oven. True, it doesn’t suit for every meal, but when you’re reheating leftovers, it makes far more economic sense to put them in the microwave.
If you have a dishwasher in the kitchen, then try to only turn it on when you have a full load. Using the machine to wash just a few items wastes electricity and water.

Plastic bags are the bane of many households, as they accumulate so quickly and fill up drawers like mad. Keeping a small supply of reusable bags near the front door will help you remember to take them out with you when shopping. And what to do with your current plastic bag clutter? If you have no immediate use for them, many supermarkets will recycle them now, and some online grocery delivery companies such as Ocado will also collect bags for recycling, regardless of where they came from.

In the Bedroom

Adding a few houseplants to your bedroom decor will make the air smell nicer naturally, and this technique also pumps more oxygen into the room, helping you sleep better at night. If you lead a busy lifestyle you can opt for low-maintenance plants.

No need to go this far

For your bedding, choose sustainable materials such as linen or wool over synthetics, as they are usually more environmentally friendly.

Many of us like to keep our bedrooms smelling fresh with scent. It’s also a useful tactic for selling your home. Again, this is an area where you can look for natural, non-chemical sprays and room fresheners that cut out the nasty stuff while still making your bedroom smell beautiful.

In the Living Room

Switch off at night. No, not your brain, your appliances. Your TV, your games console, your lamps. Left on standby, they use energy and cost you money. Okay, fine, fractions of a penny every night. But over the course of a year? And in every house on your street? If you have a spare multi-plug extension cord around the house, put all these devices onto it, and with one flick every evening you’re done. Just don’t disconnect your modem or landline!

Got a draught in your living room? Putting a stop to it will make you more comfortable, and also reduce your heating bills. Something the team here at Roundtree often come across in living rooms is wooden floors with large gaps in them. Simply laying a rug over your floor instantly plugs the draught. Gaps in old wooden window frames are another likely cause of draughts, and if you can’t afford to have them professionally fixed, putting up some thick curtains is one way to keep your home warmer.

If you have a fireplace, try to only use local wood from responsible sources. If you’re not using the fireplace, then consider blocking it to get rid of another major draught. You don’t need to board it up if you still want the look - just inflate a chimney balloon and it will fill up the space.

In the Garden

If you have the space for a compost bin, you can use up your kitchen scraps and save them from going to landfill. The compost can then be used for your vegetables and flowers.

As with household cleaning products, it’s not always realistic to manage a garden without using any chemicals at all, especially if you don’t have a great deal of time to maintain it. But anything you can do to reduce the amount of artificial pesticides and fertilizers is a good step, such as switching to an organic pesticide that is far less toxic.

Encourage more wildlife in your garden by putting up bird feeders, making some bug boxes, and planting flowers that are rich in nectar and pollen to attract bees.

A simple bug hotel can be knocked up in minutes. This one is cool, if a little extreme!

General Eco-Friendly Home Advice

You will probably pay slightly more, but switching either to a green energy tariff, or a supplier of all-renewable energy, is a great way to power your home and minimise your carbon footprint.
Look into insulation, especially if you have a loft. Usually laying down some (natural) insulation material doesn’t cost too much, and it can be a fantastic investment to keep your heating bills down.
Install low-energy bulbs once your old ones expire. These do cost more, but they can last for years and so they pay for themselves after a while.

Turn down your thermostat - just by one degree - and you could easily save a few ££ every month. Also, try leaving it a few days before turning the heating on in the winter, and turning it off a little earlier too.

If you’re having any work done on your home, insist that your workmen dispose of their waste responsibly, at the local landfill. Fly-tipping is a huge, growing problem across the UK, and a big part of that is unfortunately unscrupulous traders who don’t want to pay the charges.

When buying furniture, or other household items such as new kitchen worktops, why not consider bamboo? As the world’s fastest-growing plant, it’s super eco-friendly.

This guy's got the right idea

Fitting a smart meter in your home automatically sends readings of your gas and electricity to your supplier, saving you the hassle. But it also allows you to keep track of your energy usage at any point, helping you better understand what your biggest costs are, and how you can reduce them, for instance by not putting the tumble dryer on in the evenings when tariffs are often higher.

Lastly - one eco-friendly measure that is definitely not cheap, but can save you bundles of money over the years if you’re not planning to move any time soon and have a south-facing roof, is solar panels. With years of experience as a Hendon estate agent, we know that solar panels on your roof can potentially add value to your property, and save you a lot of money too, on your household electricity bills.