Eco Resolutions 2013
by Hazel Sillver
6th January, 2013
Hazel Sillver suggests 10 ways to make your household more eco-sound in 2013.....
If your New Year’s resolution is to be a lot greener, home is a good place to start. The average person creates most of their carbon footprint via domestic energy use. This is usually around 2.5 tonnes per year, but a badly insulated home filled with old appliances and people that overuse power could create 4 tonnes. Just a few eco adjustments could reduce that to 0.5 tonnes.
*SWITCH TO A GREEN ENERGY PROVIDER
Use a supplier that provides electricity from 100% renewable sources, such as Good Energy (goodenergy.co.uk). For further suppliers and to find the best green energy package for you, visit green.energyhelpline.com.
*REDUCE GENERAL ENERGY CONSUMPTION
Use low energy light bulbs and only turn on lights at dusk. Have short showers instead of baths and wash up by hand, rather than using a machine. Wear jumpers instead of whacking the thermostat up and prevent heat escaping through doors and windows, by hanging heavy curtains.
*BUY ECO HOMEWARES
Think green when buying new appliances and furnishings. Fridges, for example, usually use more energy than any other appliance, so opt for one that is A** energy efficient and CFC/HFC-free. When decorating, go for eco paints (such as auro.co.uk) that won’t put your health at risk and don’t produce toxic waste during manufacture.
*INSTALL SOLAR PANELS
If your roof is big enough (approximately 8m2 for a single person household and 20m2 for a small family), consider fitting solar panels to supply energy. Smaller solar panels can be dotted around the property to provide power, for example for water pumps or outdoor lighting.
*GROW YOUR OWN
Homegrown fruit and veg is highly nutritious and reduces car journeys to the shops. If you only have a terrace or window boxes, most crops can be grown in containers. Visit rhs.org.uk/Gardening/Grow-Your-Own for more information. If you don’t fancy growing your own, use a local organic veg box scheme (such as abelandcole.co.uk).
*FILL THE HOUSE WITH LOCAL FLOWERS
95% of UK-bought cut flowers are imported and grown with chemicals that damage the environment. Instead buy from your local organic flower farmer – find the one nearest to you at flowersfromthefarm.co.uk.
*TURN OFF ELECTRICAL ITEMS
Switch off electrical items at the socket when not in use. A television on standby eats 80% of the power it consumes when switched on. Even leaving the plug in the socket pulls electricity from the wall, so unplugging things is even greener. Shut down computers at the end of the day, rather than sending them to sleep.
*PROVIDE FOR WILDLIFE
Pollinating insects (such as honeybees) are declining in numbers. Fill your windowboxes or garden with nectar-rich flowers, such as aubretia, catmint, cornflowers, campanula, sedum, thyme and marjoram. Consider planting a green sedum roof to provide food for wildlife and insulate the house.
*HAVE AN ECO LAUNDRY ROOM
Use eco-friendly washing powder and laundry liquids and run a short, low temperature wash cycle for everything but aggressive stains. Hang washing out to dry instead of using a tumble dryer (which will produce three times the amount of CO2 your washer does).
Prevent cold air getting in and warm air escaping, by improving your insulation. greenbuildingstore.co.uk have a good selection of loft insulation, as well as double and triple glazed windows; double-glazing reduces heat loss by 50%. Finally, consider installing cavity wall insulation because a third of house heat is lost through walls.
Hazel Sillver is a freelance journalist and a contributor to the Ecologist Green Living section; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
*image courtesy of www.shutterstock.com
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