We all know that we need to be greener. Even the greenest amongst us knows that they could do a little bit better; from reusing plastic bags to walking to the shops, there is always something. Society is putting more and more pressure on us to shape up and do a little bit and luckily the majority of us have taken note.
This quest to reduce our carbon footprint inevitably ends up with us looking at our homes, as they typically are our single biggest black spot. Most homes (especially older ones) are totally inefficient which although bad also means that relatively small changes can make a big difference.
It is for this reason we have put together this article; to highlight that you don’t have to break the bank in order to make a difference. Below we have put together a list of home improvement ideas which will reduce your carbon footprint and save you money at the same time.
Use low VOC paint
Regular household paint is a pretty nasty and complicated substance. Made up of over 10,000 chemicals; 300 of which are recorded toxins and 150 which are linked directly to cancer. Some of the 10,000 chemicals are VOCs (volatile organic compounds). VOCs are unstable, carbon containing compounds which vaporize when exposed to air. Paint is the second highest source of VOCs emissions behind cars. All these numbers and acronyms mean that as and when you look to paint the inside or outside of your home look for Low-VOC paints, which use water based solvents in place of their toxic alternatives.
Insulate your roof
Probably the update you can make relatively easily to your home which will have the biggest positive impact on the environment. If the home you live in currently doesn’t have loft insulation then you have effectively been throwing hundreds of dollars out of the window. By installing 270mm insulation you are likely to save upwards of 2000lbs of CO2 annually, which translates to about 25% of your energy bill. Installation is relatively simple and can be done by yourself, it does get trickier if the loft is in use or the layout is complicated. Either way the renovation should pay for itself within 2 years!
Install a low U-value door
Doors and windows are thought to account for around 25% of your homes heat loss and as such should be pretty high up on your list of updates. U-values are the measure of heat lost or gained through an object or material over a period of time. The lower the U-value the more efficient your door or windows are. Most old doors (especially wood) are extremely inefficient and result in U-values rates of around 3-5 W/m²k, a composite door on the other hand will register in at around 1-1.5 W/m²k. A bit of a no brainer really.
Home wind turbine kits
Advancements in wind turbine technology mean that you can pick one up for anywhere between $500 and $2000 depending on the KW rating. We know it sounds like a bit of a mad science experiment but given the right conditions you can contribute a substantial amount of your home’s energy or power a garage apartment easily. What’s more recent schemes in the UK allows the excess energy you produce to be bought by the board, meaning you become a mini powerhouse for real!
Install smart strips
It is thought that between 5-10% of your annual electricity bill can be attributed to electronic appliances left in standby mode. When you do the math it all starts to add up. Not so much a DIY project but a definite energy saving one is installing smart strips throughout your home. Smart strips look like regular extension cords however they are much much more impressive. They automatically detect vampiric electronic devices and cut the power supply to them after a period of time.