eco friendly house
Creative Commons License photo credit: David González Romero

For those of us concerned about the environment many of the most beneficial changes we can make to our lifestyles is to create an eco friendly house.

Consider just how much of your carbon footprint goes into the energy you use at home, the products you buy for our house and the water, food and other resources that you use on a daily basis to make your home comfortable and enjoyable to live in.

Combine this with the amount of waste the average home produces in the form of rubbish, waste water and so on, and the fact that you can a massive amount of control over what happens in and around your home and it’s clear that creating an eco friendly house is arguably the single most important thing you can do for the environment.

What Is An Eco Friendly House?

An eco friendly house is one designed to have as little negative impact on the environment as possible. Of course while this sounds simple enough there are a huge range of different options available to you in order to create a more eco friendly home and furthermore different home owners lie at different places along the scale.

For some an eco friendly house has to be built from the ground up, using renewable building techniques and environmentally-friendly materials. They need to be insulated to within an inch of their lives, have living rooftops and are powered entirely from renewable energy in the form of solar power, air source heat pumps, wind turbines and the like. They have composting toilets and collect rain water to bathe in, are triple-glazed and are designed to make the best use of the available natural light.

For most people though, however interesting a concept this may be, it is a step further than is practical. Most people who care about the environment already own a home and rather than wanting to move completely into a bespoke, custom-designed and possibly even self-built home, they want to do their best to turn their existing property into an eco friendly house.

Fortunately there are lots of things you can do right now – and for very little money – to significantly reduce the carbon footprint of your house without you having to give up on your home comforts. Indeed the best eco friendly houses succeed in offering all the pleasures and comforts that most consumers expect from their homes but without them needing to contribute to global warming or the destruction of the planet.

Indeed, as the construction industry is one if the leading sources of carbomn in the environment it could even be argued that turning your existing home into an eco friendly house could actually be more environmentally-friendly than actually knocking down your house and starting all over again from scratch.

How To Make Your House Eco Friendly

Almost every aspect of your home can be made more eco friendly with a little thought and some research into the available options. This means that making an eco friendly house isn’t so much a final destination for most people but rathermore is a journey towards the ideal. As old appliances wear out they can be replaced with low-energy alternatives.

One can experiment with buying organic, local food rather than food shipped in from around the world to save on food miles. As a room needs redecorating so you can choose paints, carpets and curtains that have either been reclaimed or that use more sustainable manufacturing processes.

How To Be Eco Friendly At Home

New technologies are being developed all the time and furthermore our understanding of what it means to be eco friendly is also changing and improving so even the “best” eco friendly house may be outdated soon enough. There are, however, some general pointers that will help you to create a more eco friendly house though the exact steps and resources you use to make these goals a reality may differ over time…

Reduce Your Water Consumption

Water takes a lot of processing if it is to become the pure, life-giving liquid that comes so cheaply out of your taps on a daily basis. Finding ways to either reduce the amount of water that you use overall and/or reducing the amount you empty down the drain to be cleaned again can have a significantly positive impact on your carbon footprint and therefore can be tremendously beneficial when it comes to making an eco friendly house.

Here are just a few examples:

– Take showers rather than baths as they use less water

– Fix any dripping taps around your house

– Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth

– Reuse water when possible to water plants

– Get a water tank in your garden to conserve rainwater

– Wash up your dishes in a bowl rather than under running water

Reduce Your Energy Consumption

The energy you use in the form of electricity generally uses a huge amount of non-renewable fossil fuels to produce. Not only does the burning of fossil fuels release carbon dioxide, increasing the greenhouse effect, but it also releases toxins into the air and encourages environmental damage caused in searching for, removing and transporting these same fossil fuels.

Just a few examples of ways to reduce the energy you use to be more eco friendly at home include:

– Install low-energy light bulbs

– Turn off lights when you’re not in the room

– Buy low-energy home appliances

– Consider solar-powered products such as solar powered battery chargers and solar flashlights

– Watch less TV

– Turn off electrical appliances when not in use rather than leaving them on standby

– When making hot drinks only boil as much water as you need rather than filling up the kettle and leaving the remainder to go cold

– Insulate your loft to minimize heat loss in colder weather

Reduce The Rubbish You Throw Away

We live in a consumer society where vast numbers of goods are bought each day and just as much rubbish is thrown away. Reducing not just what we buy but also thinking about ways to reduce the volume of rubbish we send to landfill will all help us to be more eco friendly at home.

Some examples include:

– Use sites like Freecycle to find goods second-hand if you need them or to give away unwanted items to others rather than throwing them away

– Buy products based on their lifespan – sometimes it’s better to spend more on an item that will be used for years to come

– Learn about your local recycling facilities so you can recycle paper, cardboard, electrical goods, old paint and so on rather than throwing them away

– Start a compost heap to turn kitchen waste into nutritious compost for your garden

– Buy food in bulk rather than small, individually-packaged items to reduce the amount of packaging you need to dispose of

Shop For Eco Friendly Food

Food production is another area where it’s possible to have a significant impact on making a more eco friendly house. Many foods are produced in unsustainable ways, are shipped half way round the world to your local supermarket and then once you’ve driven all the way there to buy it statistics suggest a good proportion of all the food you buy will end up in the bin soon afterwards. But as always there are a number of smart yet simple ways to be more eco friendly with your food.

– Buy food that has been produced locally using sustainable practices

– Consider growing some of your own fruit and vegetables to reduce your food miles even further

– Find ways to prolong the lifespan of fresh food and keep a calendar so you eat your food in the right order and minimize waste

– Avoid foods with palm oil in wherever possible

– Reduce your meat consumption because meat production is far less environmentally-sound than the production of plant-based foods

– Cut your food into thinner pieces so it takes less time, and energy, to cook

Eco Home Services

Once you’ve got the above steps ironed out and implemented in your home one additional easy step for creating a more eco friendly house is to consider the ever-growing range of eco home services currently on offer.

For example did you know that for the time-starved professional that is still keen to make their home eco friendly there are now services that will turn your sorry patch of grass into a thriving organic garden complete with freshly-grown fruit and vegetables to enjoy at your leisure? You provide the land they they provide the produce! For those who don’t want to pay for the privilege of such a service there are landshare services in place where other eco-conscious individuals will work your vegetable plot for free in exchange for a portion of the food produced in your garden.

Of course there are plenty of other eco home services available. Take your phone line and internet connection for example. It is possible to switch from your current provider to one that either uses entirely renewable energy to run the service or that donates a percentage of their profits to environmental causes.

Your home electricity supply is a perfect example of an eco home service that you can switch quickly and easily. Having done this myself not so long ago I can assure you that whilst we pay a tiny premium through our provider in order to receive our electricity from wind farms and solar power our overall bill has gone down because we have combined both electricity from a renewable energy partner with simple ways to reduce our energy consumption so we’re managing to both save the planet and our bank balance at the same time.

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