Mar 26, 2010 Environmental issues are now part of modern life. Whether or not you are a supporter or a sceptic there is no doubt that environmental factors are now a consideration when making any kind of purchase. From a fridge to a trendy riverside apartment, the environmental or green attributes of a product are now a serious consideration with significant financial ramifications.
In the future it is predicted that poorly performing properties from an environmental standpoint will result in greater difficulty when selling or even with higher taxation. In some cases the poorest performers could even become unmortgageable!
Even in uncertain economic times there are many things you can do you to reduce your carbon footprint that will both save you money and improve your green credentials and wont cost the earth. For example just by reducing your thermostat by 1 degree will reduce your fuel consumption by 10%.
Conversely there are many exotic solutions available if you wish to be at the cutting edge of renewables!
Here are few of the latest tip and solutions available.
Put foil reflectors behind your radiators and they will reflect back into the room rather than letting the heat get absorbed into the walls.
Insulate your water tank
An un-insulated hot water tank is a big drain on energy as it takes longer to heat the water. A basic hot water tank jacket will insulate it and save money and energy.
Don’t heat unoccupied rooms
Adjust and reduce the thermostat on each radiator. When the heating is on it will only heat the rooms you use.
Draw the curtains
Simply draw the curtains and save energy. By stopping heat escaping through the windows you will reduce energy consumption especially if you don’t have double glazing.
Gas is one of the better heating fuels, and is more efficient than electricity or coal. By installing a combi boiler you only consume energy as you use it. There are currently schemes available with government subsidies available if you wish to upgrade your boiler.
Solar water heating
Usually set up as roof-mounted panels that collect the heat from the sun and heat water in thin tubes and transfer it to a hot water tank. The systems available today can be installed to work in tandem with a conventional system so even if the water is not quite hot enough to use directly your boiler can top up the heat at very little cost. This means using in them UK is viable even taking into account he high cost of installing them.
Ground source heat pumps
These pumps store heat from the ground and are one of the more costly solutions. A length of plastic pipe is filled with a mixture of water and anti-freeze and buried in the ground. This then absorbs the heat and an electric compressor raises the temperature to a useful level and it is then transferred to the home as under-floor heating and to the radiators. The effectiveness of this system does rely on where you live and the amount of heating required. As with solar solutions these can be used in conjunction with conventional systems too.
Current building regulations require that the minimum thickness of insulation in new buildings is 20cm. If yours is less than 10cm, you should seriously consider adding to it. Wool or flax is more energy-efficient than many non-renewable materials although they are usually more expensive to purchase.
If your home has cavity wall fill the cavity with an insulating material – either foam or mineral wool, depending on your budget. You may also like to consider internal or external insulation, though this is relatively costly and does require redecoration.
There is no doubt that everybody understands the practical effects of double glazing. It keeps you warmer and requires you to consume less energy. It is rather costly but the comfort benefits are as welcome as lower energy bills.
Green electricity tariffs
This means that the electricity supplier will agree to put green-generated electricity into the National Grid. However this does not make you carbon neutral and your supplier may use your tariff to meet their legal obligation to purchase a certain proportion of their power from renewable resources. You can ask your power supplier or a specialist company to supply you with a green electricity tariff.
This is the process of generating electricity directly from sunlight. These systems are expensive to install, although the Government may contribute to as much as half of the cost. Ask the supplier for details of the schemes available.
Turbines mounted on buildings can provide up to 20% of a household’s needs. A stand-alone (mounted high up on a pole) turbine can produce up to twice the amount a typical household would need. The excess can then be fed back into the National Grid. There are now many suppliers of turbines and Googling it will give you the pick of the crop.
Energy-efficient fluorescent bulbs reduce energy waste by up to 75% and they last longer. Don’t light empty rooms. When you leave a room, turn off the light!
Buy a washing machine with the highest energy efficiency rating. Most of the energy used is for heating the water, so by selecting a lower temperature and a shorter cycle you can reduce your consumption.
Like a washing machine, look for the best energy rating and try to avoid using your dishwasher until it’s completely full.
Always unplug your mobile phone charger once it’s fully charged. You can save up to £4 a year just by doing this.
Turn off any electrical equipment that has a standby button, such as DVD players, stereos and computers, TV’s and videos; most equipment uses as much energy on standby as it does when turned on. If in doubt just pull the plug!
Just boil as much water as you need to use, don’t fill the kettle right up to make one cup of tea.
Collect excess rainwater by installing water butts you can use this to water the garden in summer (if we ever get another summer!) or if you have a more integrated system they can be used for supplying water to flush the loo.
There are many external lighting schemes that have solar cells built in, providing you with free lighting in your garden and external areas.
The list could be endless, there are literally thousands of ways to save energy and most dont cost the earth. Going green is a lifestyle choice too and once the ball is rolling its important to keep it rolling. Whoever lives at the property has to buy in to change too, and like all lifestyle changes it is important to make sure you stay on track and don’t slip back into old habits.