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Eco-Friendly and Cost-effective Homeowner Tips

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Increase the value of your home and reduce your carbon footprint without spending the earth thanks to these cheap yet effective measures

Turning your home into an environmentally friendly palace sounds like a fantastic idea and is something many people aspire towards. This doesn’t have to mean installing solar panels on every roof tile, using recycled rainwater for showers and having hundreds of hamsters in little wheels to power all your electrical appliances.

Neither does it have to cost thousands of pounds to make eco-friendly home adaptions. The popularity of the previous government’s Green Deal saw a lot of funding for such changes run out incredibly quickly, while the current one are yet to announce any more. However, there are still many cost-effective methods to create a more energy efficient home.   

Free Insulation

Thanks to the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) government scheme, all the big energy companies have targets they must meet based on their share of the nation’s gas and electricity markets. Many of these offer free or discounted boilers, double glazing and insulation but often only for those on tax credits and low income.

British Gas are currently supplying free cavity wall and loft insulation for homeowners regardless of their income. It is dependent on the property with an online form and visit from an energy expert required to check your home is suitable. However, they do say 90% of homes needing insulation will get it from them without needing to sign up, so the chances are good.     

Energy Saving Lightbulbs

Around 17.5% of global energy is used to power lighting, which is a similar reflection to the energy used in your home. The majority of this is output as heat when using the traditional incandescent light bulbs found in most fittings too.

LED lights offer a far more efficient alternative, using around 85% of their energy towards lighting, which represents a massive step up. Unlike supposed energy-efficient CFL (compact fluorescent lights) they don’t take an age to warm up or slowly die out either. Switching all your current lights to LED bulbs may cost a little more initially but they soon make significant savings on your bill (at least £30 a year) and last far longer.

Double Glazing

The Green Deal may have expired which offered cheaper double glazed windows but they are still worth investing in. Single glazed windows lose up to 20% of your home’s heat through them, as do single glazed glass doors, and between £60 and £160 can be saved by double glazing an entire house (from a mid-sized terrace to large detached home).

For older houses with traditional style windows or for a cheaper yet slightly less efficient method you can do yourself, installing secondary glazing is an option. Essentially an extra pane of glass is fitted on the inside of an existing window frame which is half as effective at stopping heat escaping but still better than single glazed windows.    

Draught Exclusions

There are various gaps around your home which will be letting cold air in meaning you turn the heating up even more. If you don’t use your fireplace then fitting a chimney cap (which also stops birds falling down it) is a cheap solution. Use strip insulation to tighten the seals around your loft hatch too, as hot air rises.

Windows and doors are the main culprits for letting air escape. Cheap self-adhesive strips are simple to install while more expensive metal and plastic ones last longer around windows. For outside doors use a keyhole cover and fit brushes along the side and bottom of them to exclude as much cold air from entering as possible.    

Efficient Appliances

You can save a lot of money on electricity bills without spending a penny. By simply turning off appliances at the socket when not in use (except the fridge and freezer) between £50 and £100 will stay in your pocket.

When it’s time to buy a new electrical appliance choosing an energy-efficient model is best, even if it’s slightly more expensive. It should soon recoup the extra expense in energy bill savings as well as adding extra value to your home in the case of fridges, freezers and washing machines. Creating an energy-efficient home is possible without breaking the bank.   

Posted by Mark Readings - 03/08/2015 16:18:14

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