Caring for you, your home and the environment – 10 ways to improve your home for comfort, style and sustainability
As we’re all spending more time at home and giving more consideration to the environment, we look at 10 ways to make your home more comfortable and sustainable:
1: Natural Materials
By using natural materials in your home you can help to create a calm, energising environment.
‘Biophilic Design’ is a concept of connecting us with nature to improve health and wellbeing. Biophilia means ‘love of nature’ and suggests that we have a genetic connection to the natural world and an innate attraction to nature. It is backed by science with several studies proving that homes based on Biophilic Design principles have a wide range of physical and psychological benefits, from reducing stress levels to improving sleep.
By using more natural materials in our home we can benefit from this philosophy – materials like silk and wool, instead of synthetic fabrics, water-based finishes, replacing plastic windows with wooden or composite windows with a wood interior, would all help to make your home more environmentally friendly while creating a pleasant environment.
2: House plants
Research suggests that as well as looking good, indoor plants can help to improve our wellbeing and productivity.
Houseplants offer two potential benefits to us: improved mental wellbeing and improved physical health. The psychological benefits of indoor plants have been shown as improving mood, reducing stress levels, improved attention span and increased pain tolerance (where plants were used in hospital settings). The physical health benefits have been shown to reduce blood pressure, fatigue and headaches.
Indoor plants have also been shown to help improve the air quality in our homes by reducing the VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds). A list of suggested plants can be found on the RHS website: https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?PID=949
3: Reduce and reuse water
According to the Energy Saving Trust, each household in the UK uses on average around 345 litres of water each day. About 28 per cent of a typical household’s heating bill is from heating the water for showers, baths and hot water from the tap, equating to on average about £125 a year.
Saving water can reduce your water bill (if you’re on a water meter), reduce your energy use and bills and also reduce your impact on the environment. Just a few small changes, can make a big impact, such as using the shower instead of the bath, ensuring the washing machine and dishwasher are full before you use them, fix dripping taps and not running the water when brushing your teeth.
Visit the Energy Saving Trust website for more ideas: https://energysavingtrust.org.uk/home-energy-efficiency/saving-water
4: Turn down the heating
We all want to achieve a warm, comfortable home, but turning down the thermostat by a couple of degrees can make a big difference to your energy use and bills. Try to keep the temperature at no more than 18ºC. Put on another layer of clothing or snuggle up on the sofa with a cosy throw, Hygge style.
Home composting is the most environmentally-friendly way of disposing of kitchen and garden waste, plus it produces compost that can be used as an excellent soil improver – the ultimate reward in recycling. Even the smallest garden can find space for a compost heap or bin. Go to the RHS website for ideas on composting in your home: https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?pid=444
6: Smart technology
There have been many innovations in this area, so it’s best to consider the options carefully. Smart heating controls like Hive or Nest can make it easier for you to control your heating remotely, when your plans take you out of your usual routine.
According to an article on This Is Money website, British Gas says that its Hive smart thermostat could save up to £120 a year on your energy bills, the Tado thermostat claims it will pay for itself within a year by reducing your heating bills by up to 31 per cent and Netatmo by 37 per cent. These claims will depend on the amount of energy you use.
This Is Money website has reviewed some of the latest devices on their website: https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/bills/article-7562663/We-reveal-pros-cons-leading-energy-saving-smart-home-tech-items-market.html
7: Renewable heating and hot water
There are a huge array of options now to generate heat for your home with low-carbon, renewable technologies. From biomass boilers, air and ground source heat pumps to solar options, there are a number of ways to reduce your home’s environmental impact.
Build It Magazine has a useful article which considers the most popular options: https://www.self-build.co.uk/how-combine-renewable-energy-sources/?highlight=renewable%20heating
Further advice is available on the Energy Saving Trust website: https://energysavingtrust.org.uk/renewable-energy
8: Energy efficient lighting
Lighting accounts for 15 per cent of a typical household’s electricity bill. You can reduce this by fitting energy efficient light bulbs, such as Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) and Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs). Both CFLs and LEDs are a cost-effective option for most lighting requirements, and replacing a halogen light bulb with an LED of the same brightness can save you up to £2 per year.
Alongside this it pays to be mindful of how you are using your lighting, such as turning off lights when you leave a room, considering if you need all the lights on and using a sensor or timer on external lights so they are only on when they are needed.
9: Insulate your home
Have you checked your loft insulation is up to modern standards? Do you have draughty windows and doors? An article by the Renewable Energy Magazine states that “UK homes are losing heat up to three times faster than our European neighbours”. Homes account for approximately 15 percent of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions through their use of oil & gas for heating and hot water. These emissions need to be cut significantly by 2030 in order to help meet the UK’s legally binding climate goals, according to the Committee on Climate Change.
By making small changes you can cut your energy bills and help the environment. Take a look at the latest advice on insulating your home from the Energy Saving Trust: https://energysavingtrust.org.uk/home-insulation
10: Energy efficient windows and doors
Energy efficient windows can be an excellent way to improve the comfort and environmental impact of your home. Whether you’re considering double or triple-glazing, you can help to reduce your carbon footprint and your energy bills.
Composite windows are an excellent choice, offering both the practicality of a low maintenance aluminium exterior, combined with a warm, natural wood interior. They can help achieve a more comfortable home by reducing heat loss, draughts and cold spots, have acoustic benefits by reducing external noise from traffic or busy locations, and also reduce condensation. Westcoast Windows are also manufactured with sustainability in mind.
Find out more about Westcoast Windows Swedish aluminium timber composite windows at: www.westcoastwindows.com/about-us/ and read our Environmental & Sustainability policy.