Simple Green Home Improvements

In order to get people to implement green home improvements, the secret (I feel) is to start small.

Once you realise they're easy and can actually make a significant difference to your annual bills and comfort levels within your home, I think you'll be ready to move on to bigger things.

So to achieve this I initially decided to come up with my top 10 energy saving tips for going green. But I got a little carried away and my top 10 tips quickly became my top 20!

Do you have a story about your (or a friend's) green home improvements? Perhaps they went really well, or maybe they were a disaster?

Either way we'd love to hear them. Click here to get started.

I've tried to arrange my green home improvement tips from cheap and easy at the top to more expensive at the bottom. Some will be relevant to you while others may not.

Think about which ones you can implement today to get you started. That means you've no excuse for not doing at least the top half of the list!

Individually they may only save a few pounds over a year but together they can save a lot.

Green Home Improvements

My Green Home Improvement Tips:

  • Turn your room thermostat down by 1°C - if you've got one or more room thermostats simply turning them down by 1°C you could save over £50 per year.
  • Turn your hot water cylinder thermostat down - this is a small box strapped to the side of your hot water cylinder with a dial on it. It should ideally be set to 60°C. If you've got one and it's over this level, by reducing it to 60°C your boiler won't have to fire for as long to get your water up to temperature and if it's firing less it's using less fuel.
  • Close your curtains - as the sun goes down the heating effect from solar radiation also stops. So closing your curtains will help keep the heat inside and reduce any draughts from your windows.
  • Close internal doors - by closing internal doors you can keep the heat in the rooms you're occupying and avoid heating unoccupied rooms.
  • Turn off lights - each time you leave a room turn the lights out. There's no point paying for electricity to light an unoccupied room? 
  • Do a full load in the washing machine – it’s cheaper to do one full load of washing than it is to do two small loads. Also try to wash your clothes at 40°C (or 30°C if possible) rather than 60°C  as it’s around 30% cheaper.
  • Only boil the water you need – the more water you use the more energy is required to get it to boiling point.If you just want a single cup of tea or coffee use your cup to see how much water to put in the kettle.
  • Let clothes dry naturally - rather than automatically putting your clothes from the washing machine straight into the tumble dryer. instead hang them outside (weather permitting).

    Or hang them on a clothes horse inside (but do so in a room with good ventilation or open the window to get rid of the water vapour in the air) until they're dry or almost dry. If required you can then put them in the dryer to "finish them off". A typical tumble dryer can cost around £115 per year to run.
  • Fix dripping taps - this could save you money on your water rates as a dripping tap over the course of 1 year could fill around two baths with wasted water.
  • Turn appliances off standby – if you turned all your appliances (especially TVs) off standby you could potentially reduce your electricity bill by around 10%.
  • Move to a different energy supplier - by shopping around you could save a significant amount of money on your bills and you could even switch to a greener supplier. Plus it's way easier than you think. If you feel like you’re using too much energy at home, the energy experts at Switch-Plan have some useful information to help you to compare your energy usage with the national average. If yours is significantly above the national average, it’s likely that your home is prone to energy waste.
  • Increase the insulation around your hot water cylinder – this will keep the water in your cylinder hotter for longer and therefore reduce the need for your boiler to switch on to keep reheating the water.
  • Get an energy meter - these won't directly save you money but can help indirectly. The principle is you become more aware of how much electricity you're using and will therefore avoid using any unnecessary energy. I've got one and I love it.
  • Fit energy saving light bulbs - lots of people are put off by the initial cost of energy saving light bulbs but they're one of the best green home improvements you could carry out with regards to pay back time.

    Consider this: they typically pay for themselves in under a year and last much longer than traditional bulbs.

    A typical 20 watt CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) could last around 12 years and in that time could save you up to £120 worth of electricity - and that’s just one bulb. So you can imagine what you could save over 12 years if you changed all your bulbs.

  • Draft proofing - stopping drafts around doors and windows etc. could save you around £25 a year and can be as simple as using draught excluders under doors and silicone, expandable foam or mastic products to fill gaps around window frames etc.

    N.B. do NOT block up your sub floor vents. They're there to stop condensating forming in the sub-floor area which could lead to rot!
  • Insulation - huge amounts of heat are wasted through your roof, walls and floor every year if you have inadequate insulation and/or draughts.

    Increasing the depth of insulation in your roof void is very straight forward and could save you around £145 p.a.

    If your house has cavity walls and isn't already insulated you can get a specialist firm to inject insulation into the cavities for around £500 (dependant on the size of your house). This could save you around £105 p.a.

    Increasing the floor insulation is not always as straight forward but if you can it could save an average household around £50 each year. As you can see, your priority should be to insulate your roof first, then your walls and finally your floor.

  • Fit thermostats - fitting room thermostats will monitor the room temperature and switch your boiler on and off automatically to maintain the set temperature.

    You can even get wireless thermostats so you don't have to track your walls (making installation much easier and cheaper).

    Thermostatic radiator valves can easily be fitted allowing you to control the temperature in each room individually. If you have a wall thermostat you shouldn't fit a TRV in the same room.

  • Upgrade your boiler - an old inefficient boiler can be very poor at converting fuel into heat - I have seen old boilers operating at 55% efficiency (and lower).

    This is put into perspective when you consider one of the new condensing boilers could be up to 95% efficient.
  • Buy energy efficient appliances - buying A-rated appliances where possible can save significant amounts (depending on the appliance).

    An A-rated condensing tumble dryer could cost as little as £35 a year to run (depending on the model etc.). Compare that to a poorly rated tumble dryer which could cost around £115 per year to run.

    When you consider that you will likely have a washing machine, oven, fridge freezer, hob and possibly a dishwasher, it’s easy to see how the savings can quickly add up.

  • Fit double or triple glazing - modern double or triple glazing will help reduce draughts and increase the heat retention of your home. Some of the latest triple glazing systems have a similar u-value (a measure of thermal efficiency) as a modern fully insulated masonry wall.

As you can see from these green home improvement tips, there are lots of ways to implement green home improvements within your home and they don't have to cost you a lot of money (or any money in some cases).

The secret is to make as many of these small changes as you can and you'll start to see see a difference to your bills.

You may then want to start making bigger and bigger green home improvements. Before you know it you'll be creating your own passive solar house designs, fitting solar thermal panels and a heat recovery system.

Ultimately your goal could be to live in a passive house that actually generates excess power which you can sell back to the grid. It’s not science fiction - there are quite a few houses out there that are actually achieving this goal today.

If you would like to make other green changes to your life that will help protect our environment then please use this link to visit my friends Lillian's healthy living site.

Please help me and all my other readers by taking a few minutes to tell us about your tips/experiences for green home improvements. Maybe you have tried these or similar tips and if so how easy were they? Did they make a difference and what did they encourage you to go on and do?

Perhaps they encouraged you to go on to bigger and better green home improvements. If so, don't be shy, tell us about them and share your headaches and triumphs. After all, your experiences could help others and vice versa. Just fill out the form below and I’ll make it into your very own web page and if you have any pictures so much the better!

Have You Got A Great Tip or Story About Green Home Improvements?

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