Published : 6 January 2016
There's nothing like a bit of time off work to get you thinking about changes and improvements you can make to your home. So, as you pack away the Christmas decorations for another year, why not make a New Year resolution to make your home more eco-friendly in 2016!
The chances are you already 'do your bit' by recycling your paper waste, bottles and cans, but there are plenty more things you can do that don't cost the earth - literally.
And the advantages of doing this simple exercise are huge, as not only will you be helping the planet, but you'll discover ways of making the household budget go further.
Install a power usage meter
This is probably the first action to take, as it will immediately give you an idea of how much power you are using, and how much money you could save by 'doing the right thing' and cutting back. These clever little gadgets measure the amount of power you are using and display the information on a small screen in your home, so you can instantly see the changes when, for example, you switch on the air-conditioning. The monitor is attached to your home's main power board and must be installed by a qualified electrician.
Solar panels a worthwhile addition
The initial flurry of solar panel installations died off a bit when the government cut back its subsidies, but more homeowners are expected to install panels in 2016. Why? Because the benefits are clear! Obviously the amount of power you generate depends on the number of panels you install - and how much sun your property receives - but even with just a couple of panels to heat your hot water you are saving money and helping the environment. The secret is to shop around, get several quotes and always choose a reputable installer.
Time to see the light
As traditional but inefficient forms of lighting (incandescent) are phased out we are being encouraged to choose our lighting carefully. If building or renovating, try and design the building to make maximum use of natural light. And if installing or changing your light fittings, choose LED (Light Emitting Diode) or CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lights). For gardens, solar lights are a great choice, that also look great.
Turn it off
A simple rule to follow around your home - or business - is: If you're not using it, turn it off! This is especially relevant in homes with youngsters, where it's not unusual to find every light in the house left on, and the TV competing with the sound system! And if you're away on holidays, turn everything off at the wall - not only will it save you money but it's safer, too.
Reduce, re-use, recycle
Have a good look at how your household shops, and what it does with its rubbish. These are simple methods that cost nothing, but a little time, and can make a huge difference. Firstly, reduce your waste by choosing goods with less packaging. And wherever possible, try and re-use items rather than throwing them out and buying new products, thus using up valuable and limited natural resources.
And recycle as much as possible - paper, cans and glass are obvious ones. But did you know that plastic can also be recycled and made into hundreds of products, rather than filling up landfill or, worse still, ending up in our oceans and rivers.
If you have a garden, why not buy a compost bin and start making use of your food scraps. Or you could even get chickens, and save money on buying eggs, too!