One of the best ways to futureproof your home, and the planet is to implement a range of eco-friendly practices. While society is becoming more aware of the importance of this, there is much more you can do in the home that goes beyond recycling. Acting in a way that is less harmful to the environment can help protect our planet from irreversible damage, and lessen the negative impact a poor environment has on your health and wellbeing.

It may seem impossible, or at least overwhelming to know where to start with implementing more sustainable practices at home, and what actions make a positive impact. Fortunately, there are a plethora of small and big actions that everyone can take individually, and as a household, to help make a difference to the environment. As a bonus to lowering your carbon footprint, many of these sustainable switches can benefit you greatly, including giving you more freedom, saving you money on your energy bills, increasing the value of your property, improving your health and wellbeing by creating a healthier home environment, and making life easier for you by lowering the maintenance time and costs on household fixes.

Ranging from small changes to bigger ones, to suit a range of budgets, here are some top tips to make your home more eco-friendly

Replace your light bulbs

Energy-efficient light bulbs are a great place to start. This simple switch is effective and can help you save money at home. In recent times, light bulbs have evolved in their technology and have significantly improved in their ability to light a room. Eco-friendly light bulbs do not need to be changed as often as regular light bulbs, and they use less electricity to work. Energy-efficient light bulbs have been known to shine brighter, and help you get more out of this small, household item.

Install a smart meter and/or thermostat

Smart meters are typically free to switch to, depending on which energy provider you are with. They are a great device that enables you to monitor your energy consumption, which can be extremely insightful, and see where you can make improvements. A thermostat will enable you to program certain times for your energy to turn on and off, which can significantly reduce your energy bills, by reducing wasted heating when you’re not using it. For example, you can turn it on in the mornings, or when you get home from work — rather than leaving it on all day when no one is home. The controls on a thermostat mean you can set the temperature of different rooms, and only heat the areas of your home that need heating.

Get your boiler serviced regularly

Whether you have a very old boiler or a new technologically advanced boiler, it is still vital that you get it regularly serviced. A service will ensure that they are in working order, and are not wasting energy or money. If they are not working properly, they can cost you a significant amount of money which is also not ideal for the environment. A service will tell you how you can make improvements to keep it working longer, and efficiently, or when you might need a new boiler. More often than not, replacing it will save you a lot more money than keeping an old, inefficient boiler.

Insulate your home

Insulating your home will mean an initial investment, but it can save you a lot more money in the long run. Homes lose a lot of heat through draughts from gaps in the floor, roof, doors and windows. By insulating your home properly, you can retain heat much more efficiently, which will significantly reduce waste, and the money you spend on your energy bills. You can start with insulating the roof of your home, the walls, and opting for double glazed windows for the best impact.

Install solar panels

Solar installation is another change that will initially be quite costly, but one that will be a worthwhile, long-term investment. Solar panels provide your home with a renewable source of energy that can reduce your electricity bills and save you more money than you would otherwise spend. The maintenance costs are low and you will find freedom from the national power grid. You could even earn money from the surplus energy that you produce.

Be smart with your food waste

It has been reported that approximately 6.7 million tonnes of food in the UK is wasted each year, which equates to £10.2 billion. Each home can play a significant role in the reduction of food waste, with simple practices that are free, and can save you money. Firstly, you can be smart with your food shopping by planning your meals and only purchasing the ingredients that you need for the recipes. Secondly, you can shop at local grocery stores, which source the food locally, and use significantly less plastic wrapping by offering loose food. Lastly, you can turn any food waste and kitchen scraps into your packed lunches for work, or invest in a compost bin. You can purchase the bins from a local hardware store very cheaply. All you need to do is empty your scraps into the compost bin, and leave them to turn into compost that can be sold off or used in your garden.

Replace old appliances with eco-friendly appliances

As your appliances start to get old, it’s likely they are going to be using more energy than necessary to do their job. When you next go to replace a household appliance, such as a kettle, a toaster, an oven, a washing machine, etc., it’s wise to consider looking for eco-friendly appliances. Many appliances nowadays have been upgraded with technology which enables them to work quicker, more efficiently and use less energy while doing so. This can save you money, and reduce the impact on the environment. They have also been designed to look nice too, so you don’t need to compromise on style.

Use eco-friendly products

Many of the standard brands that you find in your local supermarket contain a variety of ingredients that are harmful to you and the environment. Products such as soaps, shampoo, conditioner, washing up liquids and detergents are made with toxic chemicals that harm the biodiversity of the planet, with the most harmful being the products that contain foaming agents, preservatives and synthetic ingredients. This is mainly because they are toxic, and/or they do not degrade and therefore harm nature and wildlife.

In recent years, companies have become more aware of the impact their products have on people and the environment and are coming up with innovative, high-quality alternatives that are much better for everyone. Try to look for companies that promote sustainable work practices and ethics, as well as biodegradable/recycling packaging, and products that do not contain preservatives, foaming agents, synthetics and unrecognisable chemicals. Instead, look for products that contain locally and sustainably grown ingredients.

Review your home practices

You don’t always have to go around the home and replace all your household items. There are many things you can do around the home that can make a huge difference. Here are some examples to get you thinking about what positive changes you can make:

  • Only boil the water that you need when making a cup of tea or coffee, as this will reduce boiling time
  • Switch from baths to showers
  • See if you can shave some time off your showers, even just a few minutes per day will add up to make a huge difference over the month
  • Switch off household items at the plug when you’re not using them, and avoid leaving them on standby
  • Cut back on using household items such as your washing machine and dishwasher to once per week
  • Make sure your dishwasher and washing machine are full before using them
  • If you wash up instead of using a dishwasher, use a washing up bowl to cut down on water usage
  • Turn your taps off when you are washing your hands, shaving, brushing your teeth or washing your face, as it can save more than 6 litres of water per minute
  • Use cold water where you can
  • Make sure you turn all your taps off properly and don’t leave them dripping, as this can waste more than 5500 litres of water per year
  • Turn off the lights when you are not in the room or when you can open the curtains and use daylight instead

Learning to be more eco-friendly can seem overwhelming at first, but the best way to get started is to educate yourself on the actions that you can take, and begin with small steps. Once you have implemented one, and are comfortable with it, you can then move on to another, and then another, and the cycle continues. It may feel like the changes are small and pointless, but they can make a huge difference to your life, and the planet.