It's more important than ever to think about the environment. It's impossible to flick a switch and improve things overnight, but we can do our part at home to make things a little better.

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Green living
An introduction
An introduction

If you're reading this, there's a good chance you're interested in adopting a greener lifestyle. It isn't the challenge some think it is. Many small changes can have a significant impact.

The impact homes have on the environment

The changes one family makes won't save the world, but we can make a real difference when others make similar changes. And aside from the positive impact on the environment, you'll also notice your bills reducing.

You can save on energy and waste throughout the house. Figures relating to domestic rubbish are eye-opening:

  • Waste - Over a year, the average person creates 344kg of waste, with a third of all the food we buy going uneaten.
  • Water - We use an estimated 160L of water per-person each day, which is one of the highest figures in Europe.
  • Electricity - The Energy Saving Trust says households can save around £30 a year by switching off appliances, rather than leaving them on standby.
  • Gas - The average 1 or 2-bedroom home will use 8,000 kWhs of gas a year, while the average 4+ bedroom home will use 17,000 kWhs a year.

The dilemma of energy and waste excess is getting worse. As the population grows, so does the need for new homes. In the UK alone it's believed that upwards of 200,000 new homes are needed each year to meet demand.

The more homes there are, the higher the level of pollution and damage is done to the world. It isn't all doom and gloom though. By adopting a greener lifestyle, we can fight back and make a difference. Let's now explore how you can fight excess levels of waste and reduce your carbon footprint.

Recycling and preventing excess waste

Individual households can be wasteful; a third of products we throw out are unused, so there’s room for improvement. If you’re thinking about becoming greener, recycling and waste management are two of the best places to start.

When it comes to preventing waste, there are simple steps you can follow to make sure you’re keeping as green as possible:

  1. Use long-lasting products - the sooner an expiry date comes around, the quicker you’ll need to chuck something in the bin. Buy items with a longer shelf life.
  2. Always buy cleaning items in concentrate form - you’ll be left with much less packaging recycle or dispose of.
  3. Turn food waste into compost - if you have fruit and veg which is going off, don’t throw it straight in the bin. Collect it in a dedicated compost area and let it biodegrade. You can use the compost in your garden.
  4. Buy in bulk to reduce packaging - to reduce the amount of waste, try and find items which come packed in one large container. It’s a simple step, but it’ll add up in the long term.
  5. Buy recycled products - buy items made from previously recycled products to use fewer raw materials.

Indeed, recycling has become the most common way of taking a greener approach. Think of it as a type of global caretaking. It’s something everyone can get involved with, with minimal hassle.

When it comes to recycling, top tips include:

  1. Separate. It’s important to separate your goods as much as possible. Keep cans, paper and plastics in different containers.
  2. Don’t stock up or store what you don’t want. If something is collecting dust, and you have no close attachment to it, recycle it. This advice is particularly handy in the case of plastics and metal.
  3. Think outside the box. Recycling isn’t just taking raw materials and recrafting them into other goods. Sometimes you can use them to make art. Sculptures are a smart way of using up unwanted products, especially when kids are involved.
  4. Have recycling on the mind when shopping. When you see a product on the shelves, consider if you’ll be able to recycle it later. If you have the option, try to go for an item which can be reused instead of one which can’t.
  5. Find out what you can and can’t recycle. Local areas have different laws regarding what you can reuse. Check beforehand.

Keep these tips in mind to stay on top of rubbish management. It’s one of the most preventable types of wastage still impacting the environment.

Reducing your carbon footprint

Your carbon footprint is the amount of CO2 emissions your lifestyle releases into the atmosphere. While there will always be a natural level of carbon dioxide in the ozone layer, this has risen in recent decades. The graph below shows how quickly levels have increased.

Graph

Source: eea.europa.eu

The more gas which becomes trapped in the atmosphere, the more damage global warming can potentially do.

For any homeowners trying to lower their carbon footprint, there are several steps you can take:

  • Grow your food. If you grow your food, you're having a beneficial impact on the environment. You won't need to travel to pick up vegetables which could have been shipped for miles, meaning fewer exhaust emissions in the long term.
  • Eat less meat and dairy. Reducing your intake of these products will also help. The production of meat burns a lot of fossil fuels, so cutting it out of your diet is a step towards a healthier planet. Diets heavy in meat are said to produce about twice as much carbon as those high in vegetables.
  • Shopping closer to home. Shop at your local store, or better still local farm shop. You and your food will create lower carbon emissions by travelling less.
  • Insulate your house. Insulate your house as much as possible. The more warmth you keep inside by design, the less energy you need to power your home. Insulation is particularly important when it comes to the colder months.
  • Use cold water as much as possible. When you can, try to use cold water. You'll save energy as you won't need to heat up the water before using it.

Reducing your carbon footprint is mostly about lowering the amount of energy you use. As we're about to discover, there are several ways you can do this.

Energy efficiency in the home
Energy efficiency in the home

If you want to be as green as possible, one of the main steps is to reduce the amount of energy you’re using at home. Let’s look at different energy resources to see how you can be more efficient.

How to save water throughout your house

Water is perhaps the most important natural resource we have. Providing both life and cleanliness, it’s not limitless in supply. It’s crucial to conserve water where we can. The home is an area where this is more than achievable.

Some of the easiest ways to preserve water in the house include:

  • Turning off a tap when not in use. Think about how long you're leaving the water running when you wash your hands or brush your teeth. Turn it off until you need to rinse your mouth or hands.
  • Don’t flush as often. It might sound unpleasant, but it’s good to flush less regularly. Doing so uses less water. Use common sense for knowing when to pull the chain.
  • Use leak detection. If you’re concerned about your water bills, you can use leak detection services to test and see if there’s a problem. It’s often difficult to know that things have gone wrong behind the scenes. These companies will investigate and take preventative action.
  • Be smart with washing up. Don’t overfill the washing-up bowl, and be sure to turn off the tap when you clean items in the sink.
  • Time your showers. This might sound excessive, but you would be wise to keep track of how long you’re spending in the shower. You could even set a timer for five minutes, so you know when to get out. Cutting down your shower time by one minute per day can save as much as 9,000 litres a year.
  • Collect shower water. If your shower takes a little while to heat up, don’t waste the water. Collect it in a bucket and use for flushing the toilet or watering the plants.

If you’re ready to embrace a greener lifestyle, cutting your water use is a terrific place to start. That said, it’s not the only area where you can make a change.

Using solar power as an energy source

Solar power is an excellent alternative to more traditional methods and has little to no impact on resources which are running out.

The basic concept of solar energy is simple to follow. Panels which absorb light during the day are attached to your house. From here, technology will:

  1. Convert the sunlight to direct current electricity
  2. An inverter converts this into an alternating current
  3. The power is then distributed to your lights and electrical appliances
  4. Any excess electricity created can be sold back to the National Grid at a set rate

While the early days of solar energy were largely met with scepticism, it’s now become a widely recognised means of supplying power to households. Just some of the benefits of using this energy source include:

  • Helping the environment. Solar energy doesn’t use up limited resources. Power is generated solely by the sun, with no need to rely on any other fuel or energy.
  • A level of energy independence. What’s more, you’ll be free from the shackles of energy sources which will eventually run out. By choosing a source which has no theoretical endpoint (at least not for a few billion years), you’re able to operate independently and make sure you won’t be affected when other options run dry. However, you’ll still need to be connected to the National Grid, as your solar panels are very unlikely to provide 100% of your electricity demand.
  • Save on bills. Sunlight is free, so you’ll be paying significantly less than you would for other types of energy. You might even be able to make the most of a feed-in tariff scheme, which sees the Government paying people for generating their electricity.

Insulating your home

Trapping heat in your home is a clever way of keeping costs and energy consumption down. The warmer your house is by design, the less energy you’ll need to heat it up. Thankfully, modern developments focus on the latest insulation technology. However old your home is, any of the following techniques will see you save money:c

Double and triple glazing

One of the most common means of insulation comes in the form of double and triple-glazing windows. The concept behind them is simple. They’re built with two or three panes of glass respectively, with an air spacer sitting between them.

This gap is intended to trap heat. It can be left empty, or filled with certain types of gas. Commonly used gases include:

  • Krypton
  • Xenon
  • Argon

uPVC frames are often used to create double or triple-glazed windows. These are long-lasting and recyclable. Prices will vary, depending on the material of the frames and the size of the windows in question.

When it comes to one opening window with a uPVC frame, you’re likely to spend anywhere between £250-£450 per window. Replacing an entirely single-glazed home with double glazing could save as much as £110 every year.

Walls

Much like with double glazed windows, walls can be constructed with a gap to trap heat. The technique became widespread from the 1920s. Those with a space between two walls of brick are known as cavity walls.

Solid walls can be insulated, so they provide the same level of protection as cavity alternatives. You can do this on either the inside or outside of a house. The Energy Saving Trust states that upgrading to insulated walls in mainland Great Britain can save anything from £120 on a fuel bill for a flat, to £425 on a detached property.

  Detached Semi detached Mid terrace Bunglow Flat
Fuel bill savings (£/year) £425 £255 £160 £175 £120
Carbon dioxide savings (kgCO2/year) 1,870kg 1,120kg 690kg 760kg 520kg

Source: Energy Saving Trust

While savings can be high, so can the cost of installation. Energy Saving Trust found it could set you back as much as £22,000 to insulate your external walls. Internal options are cheaper, at around £13,000.

When it comes to the two types of insulation, there are differences.

Internal:
  • The cheaper option
  • Will reduce the floor plan of any room slightly (adding a second layer of wall)
  • Forces door frames, external fittings and skirting boards to be removed and refitted
  • Can only be carried out if there are no pre-existing issues with damp
External:
  • More expensive, but can be fitted with minimal disruption
  • Improves the appearance of outer walls
  • Might need planning permission from your local council
  • Should not be added if the outer walls of your house are structurally unsound

In the case of cavity walls, it'll cost around £700 (per wall) to insulate a detached house or £400 for mid-terrace properties. This is something of a bargain, as it's estimated making these changes could add up to a £275 saving on energy bills every year. This is considerably cheaper than solid wall options.

Roof

According to uSwitch, an uninsulated home loses as much as 25% of heat through its roof. Heat rises, so you could be heating your home up, only for the warmth to escape. Getting your loft insulated will help you keep the house considerably warmer.

There are two different types of lofts:

Cold lofts - Where you insulate right above the ceiling of your top floor. This prevents any heat from entering the loft.

Warm lofts - Where you insulate under the roof of the house itself. This traps all the heat inside the loft space.

The current recommendation for depth of insulation is between 250 to 270mm. If your insulation falls below this, there's a good chance you'll need to take action.

It's also important to remember that once the installation is complete, you can't rest items on joists in the loft. This puts pressure on the material which has been placed down and compromises performance.

Typical installation costs for these renovations are:
Loft Insulation (0-270mm)
Type of property Installation cost Savings per year CO2 savings per year (kg) Payback time
Detached house (four bedrooms) £395 £240 1,000 1-2 years
Semi-detached house (three bedrooms) £300 £140 590 2 years
Mid-terrace house (three bedrooms) £285 £135 560 2 years
Detached bungalow (two bedrooms) £375 £200 820 1-2 years

Source: Which.co.uk

As you can see, you'll save cash and reduce your CO2 emissions when you choose to insulate a roof. It's a long-term investment with a relatively quick payback time.

Floor

Heat won't only escape from above, but also below. Reinforcing your floor is just as important as the roof. The way you approach this task will depend on the materials used in the construction of your floor in the first place. Common materials include:

  • Timber - Older houses tend to be made with timber floorboards. These can be insulated by removing the wood and laying mineral wool insulation between the joists. The original timber can then be placed back on top.
  • Concrete - Newer homes have concrete floors. This can either be insulated when it needs replacing or have rigid insulation placed on top.

Making the changes to your floor will have a significant impact on your annual energy bills and carbon dioxide emissions.

Floor Insulation Detached Semi detached Mid terrace Bungalow
Fuel bill savings (£/year) £65 £40 £25 £60
Carbon dioxide savings (kgCO2/year) 290 kg 170 kg 120 Kg 260 Kg

Source: Energy Saving Trust

The cost of professional installation will vary depending on the size and type of floor surface you're insulating.

The Which? guide to floor insulation states that professional installation for a mid-terrace with a timber floor will cost around £300, rising to £800 for a detached house. Do it yourself, and you can expect to pay around £100.

For advice on how to safely install timber floor insulation, consult this guide.

The cost of professional installation on a concrete floor ranges from £950 for a mid-terrace to £2,200 for detached. A DIY installation is possible, but be aware that the risen floor level will likely require you to refit skirting boards, trim doors and potentially move electrical sockets.

Doors

If you can hear the wind whistling around your front door, then your home is losing heat through the gaps. External doors are prime candidates for draught-proofing, which can be easily fitted without the need for a professional.

There are several areas on and around a door which may require draught-proofing:

  • Gaps around the top and edges - fit self-adhesive foam or vinyl strips to fill the gaps.
  • Keyhole - buy and fit a keyhole cover, which is typically a metal disc that covers the hole when not being used.
  • Letterbox - a letterbox flap, brush or combination of the two will prevent draughts from entering your home. Be sure to measure your letterbox before buying.
  • Gap at the bottom - fit brush or rubber excluders to the bottom of a door. These are available in many styles and colours to suit your door and home décor.

You may also want to consider some of these draught-excluding options for internal doors which connect to rooms which are usually left unheated.

These simple fixes could mean you need the heating on lower or less than you would otherwise

Other types of green power in the home

Electricity-generating solar panels are the most well-known green energy source for homes, but there are other options for those looking to be as environmentally friendly as possible.

Solar water heaters

It might surprise you to discover there’s an alternative version of solar panels, which focus on providing hot water rather than electricity.

Panels attached to the roof generate thermal energy. This energy is used to heat water directly or to heat a non-freezing fluid which in turn heats water (suitable in climates where external pipes may regularly freeze). Your home can then make use of this hot water.

The usefulness of solar water heating will largely depend on how much sun your home receives, and your home’s water needs. An electric shower, dishwasher and most washing machines are fed cold water, which is heated using electricity. Unless you’re bathing a lot, you’re only really going to be using the solar hot water to wash your hands.

And with the cost of installation estimated at between £4,000 and £5,000, you’ll need to be sure this is a system which matches your water usage needs. Bear in mind that you’ll also need a backup hot water system, by way of a boiler or similar, to provide when the solar panels can’t.

There's an added incentive of financial support from the Government, which might make solar water heating more appealing.

Household size Assumed system size Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) payment (£/year) 1 April 2017 to 31 December 2017
2 person household 2m2 £200
3 person household 3m2 £270
4 person household 4m2 £345
5 person household 6m2 £445
6 person household 6m2 £485

Source: Energy Saving Trust

Ground source heat pumps

The Centre for Sustainable Energy explains that by digging just a few metres below the surface, we can access ground temperatures that hold at a pretty constant 11-12°C. This might not sound very warm, but this natural energy source can be harnessed by ground source heat pump systems to provide an efficient way of heating your home.

An antifreeze liquid is typically pumped through a network of underground piping, allowing the liquid to be heated by the ground. This warmed fluid is then passed through a compressor to raise its temperature, at which point a heat exchanger is used to transfer the heat to a separate water source.

The newly-heated water source can be used to warm your home, while the now cooled antifreeze solution is cycled back underground to be reheated by the earth.

It’s difficult to pinpoint an exact cost for the installation of a ground source heating system owing to the variation in house sizes. However, the Energy Saving Trust estimates most installations will set a household back about £10,000-£18,000.

While those numbers sound high, the Which? guide highlights how much you could save on an annual basis, dependent on the system you’re replacing:

The EST also notes that the Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive could lead to an income of £2,380 to £2,585 a year for homes in England, Scotland and Wales.

The savings and incentives make ground source heating a good option for those looking to the long term.

  • Old oil-fired heating (non-condensing - between £390 and £425)
  • Old gas-fired heating (non-condensing - between £555 and £930)
  • Old electric heating (storage heaters - between £835 and £930)
  • Old LPG-fired heating (storage heaters - between £1,1015 and £1,200)

Biomass boilers

Biomass boilers are a modern way of using the age-old method of burning wood to provide heat.

A boiler will burn wooden logs, pellets or chips in a furnace to heat water which can be used for central heating and hot water.

These systems have several benefits, including:

  • Financial support - These systems can benefit from government grants. In this instance, the Renewable Heat Incentive can see an individual benefit. We’ll talk more about this scheme later.
  • They’re carbon neutral - The only carbon produced in the process comes from the amount which has been absorbed by the wood over the course of its lifecycle. This is always going to be far less than the amount given off when fossil fuels are burned.

The cost of installing a biomass boiler can range from £8,000 to £15,000 and is likely to cost more to run than a modern condensing gas or oil boiler.

Planning permission for your renovation

In most cases, you’re not going to need planning permission to make your home greener, but the situation could be different if you live in a listed building or a conservation area.

In the case of a listed building, you may require Listed Building Consent (LBC), while local authorities can restrict renovation work in conservation areas. You should contact your local authority for advice.

Either way, it’s best to check before you begin a project. The Planning Portal’s interactive home is a great place to start.

Maintaining a green way of living
Maintaining a green way of living

Deciding you want to live an eco-friendly life is the easy bit. The hard part is making that commitment to change your entire lifestyle. It can be even harder to convince everyone in your household to keep up with green living. Let's now look at how you can maintain a consistent environmentally-friendly approach to life.

Ways to get children to be more green

Encouraging your kids to be as green as possible is often the greatest challenge for parents in a family home, especially if children are used to a certain way of living.

When it comes to the little ones, getting them on board is best done by making things as fun as possible. Try some of these tactics:

  • Get them to spend time outside. Teach as you go. Tell them how important the plants are. The more they’re invested in nature, the more willing they’ll be to make changes.
  • Use recycle rewards. Children always react well to a reward scheme, so when your child does something green-related, try rewarding them. If you don’t want to give out too much at once, create a chart and have them earn a prize for a certain number of green deeds.
  • Encourage them to grow things. To give them a better understanding of how nature works, get them involved in growing vegetables or fruit. Caring for a vegetable patch is a (relatively) risk-free way of giving them responsibility.
  • Put it in their terms. Children won’t understand the complexities of global warming. Make sure you communicate on their terms. Simplify things as much as possible..

Parents understand better than anyone how hard it can be to get things done if little ones are rallying against you. If you can get the kids on board using these tips, things will be considerably easier for everyone.

Tips for recycling at home

We’ve already taken a brief look at how to recycle in the home. While the process isn’t particularly complex, there are still pitfalls people can fall into. Follow these simple tips in the home to help you recycle without problems:

  • Separate your items. Sorting your items into categories is usually a requirement of council recycling collections. Be sure to follow the guidance of your council to ensure nothing which can be recycled ends up in landfill.
  • Use specialist containers. Make separating items easier by picking up special boxes or bags in which to store your recyclables. These can be bought from most supermarkets.
  • Stay on top of it. By separating items as and when they’re used, you’ll never end up with a daunting pile of papers and plastics. Remember to follow your local recycling collection calendar to put out the correct bins on the correct day.

Ultimately, recycling at home relies on you taking a few extra minutes out of your day to make sure you separate your items appropriately. It’s not a big ask as a household, but it can have a genuine impact on the environment around you.

Small changes to save money

You’ll find there are plenty of ways you can save money around the house, while staying as green as possible. Here are some of the best:

  • Tap aerators - these are easy to install, and reduce the flow of water out of your taps. In the process, you save both money and water.
  • Line-dry clothes - if you use the old-fashioned method of hanging your clothes on a washing line, you’ll naturally save a lot of energy. The wind and sun will become your tumble dryer. A clothes airer is a good option if outside space isn’t available.
  • Only run the washing machine and dishwasher when fully loaded - this ensures the most efficient use of water and electricity.
  • Use cold water when possible - cold water will clean most clothes just as well as hot, but saves energy. Without the need to heat up the water, you’ll find the savings will quickly start adding up. Likewise, opt for cooler showers and baths.
  • No more standby mode - having appliances on standby might make their operation a little easier, but they’re using up valuable energy resources when doing nothing. Switch off anything you don’t need on standby, such TVs, stereos, coffee machines and microwaves.
  • Put a brick in the toilet - an odd one, for sure. If you put a brick wrapped in a waterproof plastic bag in the toilet’s cistern, you’ll reduce the amount of water used with every flush.
  • Use LED lights - LED bulbs can last for up to 10 years and are far more energy-efficient than traditional bulbs. Over time, they have the potential to save you thousands.
  • Use residual heat - for the last five minutes of cooking, you can turn off the oven and let the collected residual heat finish the job.
  • Make your own cleaning products - the products used to clean houses can be full of toxic substances. A chemical-free DIY version would still do the job while doing less harm to the environment.
  • Don’t leave taps running - don’t leave the water running when washing up or brushing your teeth. Also fix any leaking taps as soon as possible.
  • Make your own cleaning products - the products used to clean houses can be full of toxic substances. A chemical-free DIY version would still do the job while doing less harm to the environment.
  • Shorter showers - shorter showers mean you’re going to be using much less water.
  • Turn off lights - if you’re not in a room, keep the lights off. Try to make a habit of switching them off every time you leave a room.
  • Make your own cleaning products - the products used to clean houses can be full of toxic substances. A chemical-free DIY version would still do the job while doing less harm to the environment.
  • A-rated appliances - if you’re going to use conventional electronic appliances, make sure they’ve been tested. Only use appliances which score an A - making them as energy-efficient as possible.
Government schemes and incentives
Government schemes and incentives

The Government is encouraging people to be as green as possible by offering a range of schemes and financial rewards.

The Green Deal

This particular scheme has been set up with energy saving for the home in mind. You can arrange a finance plan to pay the upfront installation costs, which is paid back on your electricity bill.

The areas where people will often make changes include:

  • Wall insulation
  • Changes to heating systems
  • Double glazing windows
  • Adding renewable energy resources

Interestingly, these bills are attached to the property, not the homeowner. That means if you move home the tenant that moves in after you takes on the finance plan. You can check if your house is eligible for one of these by getting your home assessed.

When it comes to getting the work itself done, you have a choice of four options:

  1. Get a Green Deal provider to arrange installation, then pay off with a plan
  2. Get a Green Deal provider to arrange installation, then pay for the work yourself
  3. Get your installers to do the work, then pay yourself
  4. Use a Green Deal finance plan to fund your renovations

These will all be applicable so long as the changes comply with The Golden Rule, which states the improvements must be equivalent or greater in financial value than the previous costs. In other words, the changes must add financial value.

Feed-in tariffs

Feed-in tariffs work by funding people for creating their electricity from home. This is done via the use of solar PV panels, wind turbines or hydropower, for instance.

The rate you’re paid will depend on several factors. These include:

  • The technology you have installed
  • The size of your generating system
  • How energy efficient your home is
  • The installation date of your energy system

You can contact specific installation companies, who’ll come round and get it set up for you. You can also sell any unused additional units you have back to your electricity supplier. These are known as export tariffs and can be sold for 4.85p per unit.

Renewable Heat Incentive

This is arguably the most beneficial scheme for homeowners. It sees them paid for using renewable forms of heating. People can claim for heating methods including:

  • Solar thermal panels
  • Ground and air source heat pumps
  • Biomass boilers

To qualify, you must own your own home. As well as this, you’ll also need to be a resident of Wales, England or Scotland. If you’re interested in taking advantage of this, you can use the Government’s very own RHI calculator to see how much you’re owed. This incentive is available for a seven-year period and can make a massive difference to your income.

FAQs & useful links
FAQs & useful links

We’ve learnt a lot about a green approach in the home. With that in mind, there are still a lot of queries and questions you may have so let’s take a closer look at some key green home terms, as well as answering some FAQs.

The green home glossary

Below is a list of terms you might be unfamiliar with when it comes to green homes.

Biomass - the name given to any naturally degrading material which can be used as a source of energy.

Carbon footprint - the name given to the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere. It represents the impact human activities have on the environment.

Climate change mitigation - this process sees people taking steps to prevent climate change from becoming more of an issue than it already is. It looks at the steps taken towards capping the problem.

District energy - the transportation of energy for people throughout an entire district. It works by sending water at a high temperature through pipes, which provides a source of heat for everyone, with no need for household boilers.

Ecological footprint - the name given to the amount of land needed to sustain a person or persons. This doesn’t just mean space to live, but also room to grow the necessary food and appropriately deal with waste.

Greenhouse gases - harmful gases which absorb solar radiation in the Earth’s atmosphere, leading to global warming. The most common of these include carbon dioxide, ozone, methane and fluorocarbons.

Heat pump - these devices extract heat from a warm space and transport it into a new area (usually a home). Air conditioning units and refrigerators use the opposite effect to reduce the levels of heat in an area.

Net-zero home - this term refers to a home which produces as much on-site, renewable, energy as it uses on an annual basis. These homes will benefit from the schemes we mentioned earlier.

Red list - red list chemicals are those which are said to have the worst impact on a person’s health. When it comes to the home, these are most commonly found in building materials.

Green home FAQs

Still have a question without an answer? Find what you’re looking for by using our list of handy FAQs.

What are the benefits of an eco-friendly home over a conventional one?

There are many reasons why greener homes are preferable. Some of the key reasons include the reduced levels of carbon emissions, lower monthly energy bills for the household, and easier to control internal temperatures. Ultimately, you’ll be doing your bit to help the environment.

Are green homes more expensive to buy?

There’s no black and white answer. Just as with any house, many factors determine the price. Some homes will cost more, while others may cost less. The green factor will be one of many different elements which need to be considered.

Where can I find environmentally-friendly products?

Try to purchase items from retailers who specialise in environmentally-friendly products. You should be able to find a wide range of suppliers whose unique selling point is the environmentally-friendly nature of their products.

What are bioenergy and biofuels?

This is the name given to substances which are produced naturally and can be used as a source of power. They are used as a way of alleviating the need for fossil fuels. Bioenergy is renewable, which is what makes it so popular.

What is the potential impact of climate change in the UK?

There would be wide-scale change and damage to the environment if climate change continued to worsen. This would spread across several sectors of life, including:

  • Agriculture - the change in conditions would impact crop production. There would be a mass decrease in the number of many crops, and some could even be wiped out entirely.
  • Sea levels - sea levels would rise due to melting ice caps. This would result in sea defences coming under threat, and potentially greater risk of flooding.
  • Population - it’s very likely the global population will shift dramatically. People will look to move according to where conditions are best for growing food.

While these issues aren’t likely to have an immediate impact, they’re plausible future scenarios.

What is fossil fuel divestment?

Divestment is opposite to investment. It involves taking an asset away from something for a personal gain, with no means of restoring what was used. In the case of fossil fuels, this involves using up these unrenewable forms of energy without supplying a way of replacing them.

Secondary resources and additional information

Here’s a list of secondary resources which could help you learn more about maintaining a green approach in the home:

The BBC looks at how environmentally friendly housing is keeping down bills in South Shields:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-22466370

BHG on how to make rooms in your house more environmentally friendly:
http://www.bhg.com/rooms/living-room/makeovers/eco-friendly-living-room-makeover/?slideId=1e87abf4-0cee-4cbc-bca7-2adde2dc2cbe

The Energy Saving Trust look at the impact of green housing in Scotland:
http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/scotland/tools-calculators/green-homes-network

Go Fossil Free answers questions on how reducing the amount of fossil fuel we use could be beneficial:
https://gofossilfree.org/faq/

The UK Government website explains the benefits of feed-in tariffs for homeowners:
https://www.gov.uk/feed-in-tariffs

Home Advisor looks at the growing trend of houses turning green:
https://www.homeadvisor.com/article.show.Comprehensive-Green-Remodeling-Less-Known-Facts.16675.html

One Green Planet assesses the growing crisis of a world water shortage:
http://www.onegreenplanet.org/environment/the-world-is-running-out-of-fresh-water/

The Green Age looks in more detail at how much energy the typical UK home uses:
https://www.thegreenage.co.uk/how-much-energy-does-my-home-use/