An eco-friendly lifestyle is not only good for the environment but it also lessens the burden on your wallet when the bills come through. Since 2010, when the British government published ‘Zero Carbon Britain’ reporting how we could reach zero carbon emissions by 2030, we have seen a huge rise in the number of domestic and commercial environmentally friendly buildings.
There are also companies such as UK Green Building Council that offer training courses for architects, engineers, contractors, and project managers in a variety of topics from Responsible Procurement to Efficient Buildings.
Most office buildings are now achieving a Very Good or Excellent rating from the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM). In 2010, 7 More London became the first building in the capital to achieve an Outstanding rating.
As for residential properties, the number of modernist homes built using recycled materials and working with the surrounding nature has risen dramatically.
How to make your home green
There are plenty of improvements that you can make to your own home to increase its eco rating and save you money. Below is a list of the ones that will make the biggest change to your energy bill.
Loft insulation: Loft spaces account for almost 25% of heat loss in your home. Getting them properly insulated will mean your house stays cool in the summer and warm in the winter without costing you a fortune. Check out this video for a guide to loft insulations:
Cavity wall insulation: If you have cavity walls that aren’t insulated, you’ll find that a lot of your heat gets lost through the gaps. Insulating them is a simple fix and requires no major reconstruction to your house – the insulator is pumped into the cavity through a small hole made in the brickwork, which is then resealed. Find out more in this video.
Double-glazing: While windows account for significantly less heat loss compared to lofts and walls, getting them double-glazed will still help to save you money on your energy bill. It can be an expensive improvement but be sure not to get caught out by initial quotes. For tips on how to buy double-glazing check out the Which? website.
Using less electricity: This may seem like an obvious one but homeowners often overlook it. Simply reducing your electricity usage by turning off lights and not leaving appliances on standby can cut your energy costs in half. Fitting energy efficient light bulbs and turning down your thermostat are some really simple ways to get started. You can purchase electricity monitors to measure your usage for less than £50 that will help you reduce your bills in the long run.
How to afford home improvements
If you have enough personal savings to make these changes to your home then you can rest assured that they will start to pay for themselves as soon as your next bill comes in. However, if you need a little financial help there are plenty of ways to go about it.
The government recently introduced the new Green Deal to help people who want to make their homes more energy efficient. Through this deal, homeowners can claim back a total of £1000 if they install two of twelve listed improvements, including double-glazing and insulation.
Taking the time to research the best energy provider is another really simple way to keep costs down. You can choose different companies for gas and electricity or you can have one company supply both. Get quotes and information from as many suppliers as possible and compare them to your current provider. For some tips on choosing the right energy provider for you, check out the Citizens Advice Bureau.
If you have the appropriate skills you can install some eco-friendly home improvements yourself. For instance, loft insulation can be purchased at many hardware stores across the UK and can be installed by the homeowner. However, always remember to take the appropriate precautions and follow the guidelines provided with products.
Why bother going green?
Apart from the obvious benefits to your household bills, studies have shown that a higher energy efficiency rating can add more that 15% to a property’s value. Improving your rating from band D to B can push your sale price up by £16,000 as more buyers are on the hunt for homes that will produce cheaper bills. So, if you’re thinking of selling your house or you’re already in the process of doing so, think about some of the improvements that you could make to get more from the sale.