How to make your home a greener place to live

How to make your home a greener place to live

Everybody has the desire to try to live a better and healthier lifestyle, and in the same way, they also want to use as few natural resources as possible. Just as there are options in the way you can live, there are also ways you can turn your house into something that’s far more energy efficient and a lot greener. Here are some ideas that you can implement in your home that will make a significant difference to your life and the environment.

Smart thermostat app

Install programmable thermostats

If you’re the type of person that always leaves the heating or the air conditioning on when there’s no-one in the house, then a programmable thermostat is for you. It will allow you to control when you have the heating and the air conditioning on, so you can have it colder at night and slightly warmer in the mornings. These types of the thermostat will save you a lot of money and energy in the long term. To take things a step further, if you install a smart thermostat, you are getting all the benefits of a programmable version, plus the ability to turn it off and on when you’re not there. That means you can always instruct it to turn on just before you get home if you’re going to be late.

Saplings in light bulbs

Change your light bulbs

Traditional bulbs have long been known to be inefficient and have a relatively short lifespan. With the introduction of compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) and light-emitting diodes (LED), the cost of energy used by house lighting is drastically reduced. If you’re still using the older types of bulb, then changing them to CFL or LED ones will show an immediate difference in your energy consumption. In some cases, the only lights that couldn’t have this new type of bulb were those that were designed to be dimmed. However, there are now more modern versions of LED that are dimmable.

Bobble hats on roofs

Eliminate air leaks and heat loss

One of the main reasons that homes lose heat is through escaping air and uninsulated walls and roofs. If you’ve ever seen the roofs of houses after it snows you’ll see that the uninsulated ones have melted the snow, whereas those with insulation haven’t. If you’re not sure whether your home is insulated or not, you can get it checked and have insulation fitted that uses natural products. It’s not just the insulation that you need to think about; you should also look for anywhere the air is leaking out. It could be from the toilet outlet, or perhaps the outlet pipes for the sink. Fill the gaps with expanding foam or plaster to seal the holes and keep the heat inside. One other way that heat can escape is through your windows. It may be because they’re older windows with only a single pane of glass, then they could be losing much more heat. If that’s the case, then you should be thinking about window replacement Virginia Beach so that you can get new ones fitted.

Appliance energy label

Upgrade to energy efficient appliances

If your household appliances are more than a few years old, then they might not be terribly efficient. For that reason, you may want to consider changing devices such as your washing machine, fridge-freezer or dishwasher to one that has a higher energy star rating. Sometimes there are schemes involving your energy supplier that can help you cut the cost of replacing inefficient appliances.

Aerated tap water

Reduce water consumption

There are many ways that you can reduce your water consumption and lower not only your water bills but also help to conserve water. You can start by adding aerators on your taps and fitting low-flow shower heads. These use less water but still give a good spray, so you’re not missing the additional supply. You should also think about switching from taking baths to showers as this dramatically reduces your water usage. Another way to save water is to use plants in your garden that don’t need much water, or those that are native to your country. It will mean that you spend less time watering them and you’ll use less water to keep them healthy. You can also choose to fit a water butt to catch rainwater; you can recycle this natural water and use it in your garden.

Solar panels on a roof

Switch to solar power

There’s been an enormous boom in people choosing to get some or all their energy supply from solar power. There’s no doubt that for those who can have it, there’s a significant reduction in their energy bills. In some countries, you can even sell the power you don’t use back to the grid. There are solar solutions available for both hot water and electricity. With water, it’s pumped through tubes that absorb the sun’s energy and heat the water. With electricity, solar panels convert the sun’s energy into electricity. Both systems are fitted to the roof of your home and are placed at the best angle to get the most sun. There are also other water heating systems such as one that uses a series of underground pipes in your garden to absorb heat from the soil.

Compost heap

Compost

To reduce the amount of food waste that you send to landfill, you can buy or build a composter for your garden. The food waste goes on the top, and bacteria and worms turn it into compost that comes out of the bottom. Some food shouldn’t be composted – items such as meat, fish and bones. However, newspapers, junk mail, egg boxes and cardboard can be disposed of on to a compost heap. The other advantage of creating your own compost is that you’re not buying peat-based compost that is taking away natural, non-renewable resources.

If you’re looking to change the way your house uses energy, then there are many ways you can achieve it. As well as these ideas, you can also try growing some of your own food and fitting a more energy efficient boiler. With just a few simple changes, you can start to make a real difference to the planet.

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The ultimate guide to greener living

The ultimate guide to greener living

Not only does greener living directly impact the environment, when done correctly huge savings can be made to your annual household expenditure too. There are so many different ways you can incorporate greener living into your home, from having a water meter installed to discontinuing using plastic carrier bags. Here are a few pointers to get you on the road to greener living.

Daylight bulbs

Be energy efficient

The energy used to fuel our homes is not only one of the biggest household expenses – it’s one of our biggest contributions to climate change as individuals. Thankfully there are a few tricks to cut both, from simply turning down the thermostat by one degree to installing loft insulation which could knock up to £225 off your annual energy bill.

Turning off lights, taking appliances off standby and implementing timers will all help reduce monthly outgoings. Contact your energy provider and ask for a smart meter, which will allow you to check in near real time where your household is using the most energy and what it costs. It comes in particularly handy if you’re renting with friends and split the cost of your utility bills.

Dripping tap

Save water

With access to clean and safe drinking water literally on tap, it can be hard to identify with the need to actively try and save water. However, according to Water Wise the UK actually has less available water per person than most other European countries. Installing water efficient products will not only reduce outgoings, but you’ll be directly cutting down the energy used in treating and pumping waste – making a positive impact on the environment.

As toilet flushing, baths, showers and running taps are the biggest culprits in terms of water consumption, install a ‘hippo’ in the toilet cistern to save up to 3 litres of water with every flush. It’s also a good idea to fix dripping taps and fit showers and taps with aerated heads. Outdoors, a water butt is a welcome addition to any garden instead of a hose attached to the mains.

Cyclist on a racing bike

Leave the car at home

It can be so tempting to jump in the car and nip down to the local shops rather than brace the weather and endure a 10-minute walk. However, cutting down on unnecessary short journeys will not only greatly reduce your carbon footprint but will save you money on petrol and parking costs. What’s more, it’s a great way to sneak some exercise in to your daily routine.

When buying a new car, look for newer, more energy efficient models. While cutting your carbon emissions, they’ll also save you money on vehicle tax and petrol costs.

Basket of fresh vegetables

Grow your own

Whether you only have space for a few raised boxes or house your own vegetable patch at the bottom of the garden, growing your own food doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Hydroponic gardening is perfect for growing fruit and veg indoors with a quick turnaround. With practice, while you may still need to pick up supplies from the local supermarket, you’ll be one step closer to self-sufficiency.

What are your top tips for greener living?

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Why you should install a food waste disposer in your kitchen

 Using an Insinkerator home food waste disposer

Food waste disposal units have been popular in the USA for decades; around half of homes there have one. However, only about 6% of UK homes and 3% in Canada have one fitted.

Black kitchen sink with running tap

It’s practical

If you have a compost heap in your garden, much of your food scraps can be added to this. However, you shouldn’t add things like meat and fish as it encourages vermin. Unfortunately, not everyone has a garden, and some people may have mobility issues, so rely on their local council to collect their food waste. Where we live – and this is probably the same for most people – food waste is only collected once a week. This means you’ll have smelly, decomposing food hanging around for days on end – not nice!

Rubbish in landfill

It can be better for the environment

A massive 20% of household waste is food scraps. Having an Insinkerator installed under your sink means your food waste won’t be going into landfill where it will contribute to the production of methane (a greenhouse gas) which will be released into the atmosphere.
When the food waste  from your disposer gets to the water treatment plant, it will be processed and, if it is a state-of-the-art plant, any biogas and biosolids that are produced will be captured. These bi-products then go on to be utilised as fertiliser and to generate electricity. Surely, this is a better option for the environment.

Range of kitchen waste disposer units

They’re not as expensive as you may think!

Waste disposal units come in a range of sizes and prices. You can buy models for less than £100. Herefordshire and Worcestershire councils once offered them at subsidised prices (we can’t find information about whether they still offer this grant).

They can be incorporated into a new kitchen design scheme – or easily installed within an existing sink unit.

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Dealing with blocked drains

Dealing with blocked drains | H is for Homecredit

Some blocked drains are instantly fixable with a drain unblocker, but when the problem becomes persistent, it’s time to look at other avenues to help you. Like most other Sydney plumbers, Plumbing Detectives are on call 24 hours a day 7 days a week to help you with issues such as this one.

How do I know if I have a block?

There are a few signs to tell you that you have a blockage somewhere, including:

  • It’s difficult to flush your toilet, and it takes ages to refill.
  • Your sinks or bath empty very slowly.
  • There’s a bad smell coming from your drains.

If you spot any of these signs, then chances are you have a block and you need to look into it.

So what causes these blocks?

The Australian continent is divided into drainage divisions which are then sub-divided into water regions, and then river basins. There are currently 245 basins, 77 regions, and 12 divisions. To find out more about where you are in this, check out the Geoscience Australia website. However, wherever you live there are many reasons that your drain could become blocked, including:

  • The pipes you have are too narrow, and need replacing.
  • Your home is located near a sharp 90 degree bend – this is where a lot of main line blocking occurs.
  • Something is stuck in the P Trap or J Bend. The most common items that cause this are cooking leftovers such as oil, wipes, and sanitary items. Throw these away, don’t flush them out!

Can I fix this myself?

Den Garden has provided a possible quick fix to help you:

  • Try to remove the blockage with a tool.
  • Use a plunger to force the blockage down.
  • Clean out the pipes underneath the sink.
  • Pour in boiling hot water or enzymes.
  • Use a chemical cleaner.

But of course, this is only for a one time problem. If it keeps on persisting, then your main line is likely the issue, and that will need to be looked at by a professional.

Can I prevent blocks?

There are a few things you can do to help yourself – after all, prevention is quicker, cheaper, and more effective than a cure. Here are some tips to help you:

  • If in doubt, bin it – if you’re worried that something might block up your drains, throw it out instead. For example, toss cooking oil out once it has cooled.
  • Never flush medicines or tablets – always dispose of them properly, at a medical facility or health authority.
  • Get rid of chemicals and solvents at your local recycling site.
  • Always scrape the food off your plate before using the dishwasher.
  • Even wipes that state that they are flushable or biodegradable, aren’t. Throw them away!

By avoiding a blockage, you could end up saving yourself a lot of money per year – just check out the Yuck campaign for more information.

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10 ways to reduce water consumption in the home

10 ways to reduce water consumption in the homecredit

Each Brit uses about 150 litres of tap water per day and 63% of daily water consumption in the home originates from either the bathroom or the toilet, according to Waterwise.

Follow these ten tips though and you should be able to significantly reduce the amount of water you use on a daily basis:

Dripping tap with low water pressurecredit

Eliminate low water pressure

A shower with trickling water, an electric shower that stops working when a toilet flushes, and a bath or toilet cistern that takes a long time to fill are all signs that you could be suffering from low water pressure. Seek out a specialist like WaterPressureProblems.com when you encounter these symptoms and their plumbers will be able to see from where the issue is originating.

running tap brushing teethcredit

Don’t run the tap while you’re brushing your teeth

You could be wasting up to six litres of water every minute that you’re leaving a tap running while you brush your teeth. As soon as you’ve wet your toothbrush and toothpaste, turn the tap off and don’t turn if back on again until you need to rinse.

Drop-a-brick cistern displacement devicecredit

Buy a cistern displacement device for your toilet

A cistern displacement device – otherwise known as a CDD – is easy to install in your toilet and works to displace an estimated 1 litre of water with every flush. Most water companies will provide these items free of charge.

Fix leaking taps as soon as they start

A dripping tap can result in over 60 litres of water being wasted every week! Clearly, it’s time to stop ignoring that constant dripping that you hear from a leaking tap and get it fixed.

Wet shave razor, brush and bowlcredit

Avoid running water when having a shave…

Filling a sink with a few inches of warm water will rinse your razor just as well as running water will, and result in you wasting a lot less water in the process.

Doing washing up in bright green plastic bowlcredit

…and when washing dishes

As we mentioned when touching on how to brush your teeth in a more efficient manner, a running tap uses around six litres of water per minute. When it comes to washing your pots, pans and dishes then, opt to fill a basin with warm soapy water before you begin.

Large wooden barrel water buttcredit

Use rainwater on garden plants

Install a tank and pump in your garden and you’ll be able to use the rainwater that is collected within it to water your plants. There are even tanks and pumps available which enable you to use rainwater when operating a washing machine or dishwasher.

Glass pop-top tap water bottlecredit

Keep a jug of water in your fridge

Do you tend to leave a tap running for a while so that you can enjoy a nice cold drink of water? It’s more efficient if you opt to instantly fill a jug or bottle with tap water instead and then pop it into the fridge to cool.

Bright red steaming kettlecredit

Only fill your kettle to the level you need

By filling your kettle with just enough water for what you actually need, you’ll not only save on the amount of water that you use but also reduce the amount of energy that the electrical gadget uses every time it boils.

Bright pink recycled plastic 5-minute shower timercredit

Set up a shower timer in your bathroom

You can be using anywhere from six to 45 litres of water every minute that you have a shower on. Encourage yourself and others in your household to spend less time in the shower by having a timer clearly on display.

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