Sustainability has become a buzzword across many areas of life, from government initiatives to consumer spending habits, and now it looks like this shift is becoming just as important to homeowners. Over two thirds of Brits are prioritising sustainable home improvements, which not only help the environment, but are generally less expensive, as they involve re-using old materials instead of buying them brand new.
So, if you’re looking to embark on an eco-friendly renovation project yourself, we’ve compiled five tips to get you started.
- Buy recycled or reclaimed materials
Two of the best things to do for the environment are recycling and buying things second-hand, which helps to reduce the number of items we consume and diverts them from landfills — a huge source of harmful emissions. Fortunately for homeowners, there are many ways to redecorate using recycled materials, with everything from decking and shelving, to doors and floors can be spruced up using recycled wood. Retailers like Building Materials offer a range of products made from recycled timber, while existing rocks and rubber mulch can feature in landscaping, reused glass or paper in countertops, and even jeans can offer extra insulation.
- Shop for low-VOC paint
Painting rooms is one of the easiest and most affordable ways to revitalise your home, but not all paint is environmentally-friendly. Many contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can release toxic emissions into the atmosphere once they’ve been applied to your walls. These emissions are bad for the planet, and everyone in your house who will be breathing in these toxins day in, day out. While VOCs were traditionally key components of paint, there are now many alternatives out there, with sustainable businesses like The Organic & Natural Paint Co. selling a wide range of VOC-free interior and exterior paints.
- Switch to LED lighting
The average UK household spends £679 a year on electricity, using well over 3000 kWh . Unfortunately, the more electricity you use, the more toxic fumes get released by power plants, and a greater amount of the planet’s natural resources get depleted. A big part of domestic electricity usage comes from artificial lighting, which is why you should change your lighting system to LEDs if you still use conventional bulbs. LEDs are a much more sustainable alternative, using 85% less electricity for the same amount of output, so they’ll reduce your energy bills to boot. Other ways to reduce energy usage as part of your renovation project include buying energy-efficient appliances and installing dimmer switches.
- Draught-proof your home
The average home loses a quarter of its heat through doors and windows, mostly because of gaps and cracks around the foundations. This wastes a huge amount of energy, as people will often turn up the temperature to offset the heat loss. Instead, you should draught-proof your home to keep it warm. This could involve sealing gaps in doors and windows using things like weatherstripping tape, as well as buying thermal curtains and blinds, and getting keyhole covers.
- Install low-flow bathroom fixtures
Toilets are the biggest water hog in the home, using over a third of a household’s water supply. That’s why you should replace your bog with a low-flow model, which uses around 1.6 gallons of water per flush, compared to between 3.5 to 7 gallons used by standard models. You can go even further by installing a dual flush system, with one button for liquid and another for solid waste. Similarly, a low-flow showerhead can help you save even more water.