The world has enough for everyone’s needs, but not everyone’s greed”
Making your home more environmentally friendly and sustainable can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be!
In this blog post, we will give you 76 green living ideas for green and sustainable living at home.
We will cover a wide range of topics to reduce your carbon footprint, from insulation to electric generation.
Making these changes can help reduce your environmental impact, save you money on your energy bills, and make your home more comfortable!
- Tap Aerator. Switching your traditional faucet for a tap aerator (also known as a flow regulator) can be significantly more water-efficient. They work by combining pressurised air and water and can reduce the amount of water you use by two-thirds (or around 7 litres per minute).
- Eco showerheads. An eco shower head can provide the feeling of a higher pressure shower without as much water.
- Dual flush toilets. Dual flush toilets use 20% less water than a standard single flush toilet. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimate annual savings for a family of four of more than 45,000 litres.
- Turn off the tap. A standard tap flow rate is between 10 to 15 litres per minute; over 20,000 litres a year from 4 minutes of daily teeth brushing or shaving!
- Fix leaks. Fixing leaky taps and pipes will save a lot of water. According to the EPA, the average household wastes 36,000+ litres of water every year so replace those washers in old, dripping taps.
- Environmentally rated. An environmentally rated dishwasher and washing machine will reduce your carbon footprint and can half domestic water use.
A modern dishwasher uses a lot less water than handwashing so can be environmentally friendly if used appropriately.
- Car wash. Take your car to a company that recycles the water, rather than washing it at home with the hose.
- Laundry. Reduce the number of loads you do and only put the washing machine on only when you have a full load. Save water, and money and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
- Watering Plants. If you have to water outdoor plants do so in the early morning; cooler temperatures lose less to evaporation and get a rain barrel.
- Compost toilets. They use no water at all. Not practical for most urban homes and requires careful waste management, but good in a self-build or off-grid house.
- Change your diet. Eating less meat and dairy will significantly decrease your water footprint.
- Wind turbines. Small-scale domestic wind turbines can be an effective renewable energy source in terms of energy output. A well-sited 6kW installation could save over five tonnes of CO2 per year.
- Solar photovoltaic (PV). Solar PV panels convert sunlight into electricity. Typical domestic systems are around 2.2 kW in size and can provide around 1,850 kWh a year, over 40% of the electricity used by a typical household. You will reduce energy consumption from the grid.
A 2.2 kW system will typically save around 1 tonne of CO2 per year in the UK. Solar panels have been popular with the environmentally-conscious consumer in the UK and can make a huge difference in reducing the reliance on fossil fuels.
- Home Battery Storage Systems. Home Battery Storage Systems can be recharged from your renewable power sources and your home can draw on the power stored when needed. Your home will be more resilient to power disruption, you will save energy drawn directly from the grid.
- Insulate loft and pipes. Install a minimum of 25cm/10” of insulation in your loft (25% of home heating is lost through the roof). Insulate all pipes, especially those outside or in unheated spaces. And If you have a hot water tank, fit a jacket.
- Insulate walls and the floor. An estimated 35% of heat can be lost through the walls and 15% through the floor. Add insulation beneath floorboards (if you have them), or a thick carpet, and add cavity and solid wall insulation to reduce heat loss.
- Block draughts. Heat will escape from a draughty house like water through a sieve. Check all openings (doors, windows, loft hatches, keyholes, uncovered floorboards).
Use draught excluders, beading, sealants and fillers to ensure there are no gaps but consider that bathrooms, kitchens and rooms with open fires will need natural ventilation.
If you have a chimney but don’t use it, get it blocked, otherwise install a chimney balloon when not in use.
- Get insulated curtains/drapes. These provide a layer of insulating air between the curtain and window. Avoid covering radiators.
- Surround your house with plants. Shrubs, bushes, and climbing vines create dead air spaces providing an environmentally friendly way to insulate your home.
- Replace old draughty windows and doors. Installing energy-efficient double glazing will more than halve heat loss through the windows. Also, consider triple glazing; more efficient but more expensive.
- Consider upgrading your boiler. Old boilers can be less efficient than new models look to replace them with a newer more efficient model
- Install a new heating system. If you have a gas boiler, consider alternatives like an air source heat pump – but do sort out insulation first! (see article on the best alternative to gas boilers)
- Undertake a full home retrofit. This could be the cheapest and best long term option although the ROI will be in years. It will include most of the changes listed above and you could reduce carbon emissions by 100%.
- Install an intelligent heating system. Take control of your heating schedule with a solution you can programme and control via your phone, so you can turn the heating on as you leave work.
- Turn the dial down! Many homes are overheated. Set your heating to 18°C to be more environmentally friendly.
- Put additional layers on. Such an easy answer to a more sustainable lifestyle. When it’s cold wear a jumper and slippers. Get warm winter sleepwear. If you’re too hot, turn the heating down instead of removing clothes.
- Only heat the rooms you use. Turn down (or turn off) heating in any unused or underused rooms. Keep doors shut.
- Let the sunshine in. Open curtains on your home’s sunny side during the day to let the warmth in.
- Avoid standalone room heaters. Standalone or plug-in room heaters are expensive and inefficient and ideally would never be your main source of heat.
- Ditch the car. If you can do without, get rid of your car. Cycling and walking are climate-friendly and healthy alternatives for short journeys; use public transportation for those longer journeys. You could also consider lift or car sharing.
- Go Electric. If you need a car, consider going electric. 10% of CO2 in industrial nations comes from vehicle exhaust fumes and electric cars will produce half the CO2 of a petrol/diesel engine over their lifetime.
And yes, EVs are not a viable option for everyone due to access to off-road parking with power (driveways or garages), and EVs are typically more expensive than their combustion engine equivalents.
However, there are constant developments and improvements to the public charging network and car manufacturers are releasing new and more affordable options. See the Best EV Home Chargers article.
There is also a lot of noise around just how environmentally friendly EVs are loaded with toxic materials that are harmful to the environment – while they do have some nasties they are a better alternative over ICE vehicles to address climate change.
- Electric bikes. Pedal assisted electric bikes are bikes with an electric motor that help you cycle with less effort. You will still need to pedal on an electric bike but you will find covering distances and hilly terrain much easier.
There are also e-bikes that you can use to transport children and/or grocery shopping – called cargo bikes. See article on best cargo bikes.
There are e-bikes where you don’t need to pedal but you cannot ride them on the streets without a license as essentially they are mopeds/motorcycles. Legislation on electric bikes differs between countries, so check before buying.
- Drive better! Regardless of what you drive fuel consumption will be impacted by your driving style. Harsh braking/acceleration, and speeding will have a negative impact on fuel efficiency and your pocket so drive like you would when you have your old grandmother onboard.
- Vehicle Maintenance. A well-maintained vehicle will run more efficiently – getting regular services, checking on oil, brakes and tyre pressures can make a difference.
- Ride a bike. Great for those shorter solo distances. Cycling is great for your cardiovascular health and will save you money. Bikes can often be the fastest (and less stressful) option of getting across towns and cities, and you don’t need to pay for parking. If you need to carry items, invest in a basket or bike panniers or invest in a cargo bike. The better option for an eco-friendly lifestyle.
- Fridge/Freezer. A modern fridge (an energy-efficient one that doesn’t use CFCs) can use up to 50% less electricity than that of an older model. Refrigerators work better when they store food at three-quarters full, operating at maximum efficiency with unhindered air circulation. The optimal fridge settings are between 3°C and 5°C. Ensure seals are tight, doors are not left open, and you site it in a cool position. Defrost your freezer twice a year.
- Washing Machine. Only wash when there is a full load and set the temperature to 30°C – at this temperature, you can cut your washing machine’s energy use in half compared to a 40 to 60°C cycle. Wash with a high-speed spin, so the washing is as dry as possible when finished. Don’t overload.
Set your washing machine to run in the early hours of the morning to reduce your electricity costs. Energy prices are typically at their lowest between 10pm and 5am. Get rid of any limescale build-up as this impacts the performance and lifespan of the machine.
- Tumble dryer. Tumble dryers are one of the least environmentally friendly appliances in your home. If you’re eco-conscious, why not air dry in front of a radiator or outside? If you do need one, get an energy-efficient model.
Ensure you keep filters clean for max efficiency. And don’t overload. The most expensive time for you to wash or dry your clothes is between 4pm and 7pm, so avoid these hours, if possible. Switching loads while the dryer is still warm can conserve the remaining heat for the next load.
- Entertainment systems. Switch off appliances not being used at the mains. By smaller TV screens and monitors. By an energy-efficient model – an old plasma TV screen uses over 5 times the energy as an equivalent LED TV.
- Lighting. Turn off lights when not in use. Maximise daylight by keeping curtains open, and placement of mirrors to reflect light. Prefer low-energy and LED light bulbs over halogen (they use one-tenth of the power).
Fluorescent bulbs used to be the energy-efficient go-to, but not anymore. LEDs are the way to go.
- Kettles. Only boil the water you need. Simple.
- Dishwasher. Buy an efficient model, and only put it on when full. Dishwashers can be more efficient than washing by hand.
- Oven. Use the fan assist to cook as much as possible in one go using all oven shelves. Keep the oven closed while cooking. For longer cooking cycles consider turning the over off 10 minutes early and using the residual heat to finish cooking. Cut food into smaller pieces and spatchcock poultry, to cook more quickly. Microwaves use a fraction of the energy of an electric or gas oven.
- Hobs. Putting a lid on your saucepan speeds up cooking time and reduces energy consumption by up to a third. Always choose a cooking ring or burner matching the size of your saucepan.
- Pressure cookers. Using a pressure cooker instead of a traditional saucepan on a hob can save up to 70% energy.
- Energy Monitor. Use an energy monitor to identify energy-hungry appliances or activities.
- Turn off appliances. A number of household appliances such as computers, monitors and printers are often left on standby mode. The total electricity consumed by idle electronics (vampire or phantom electricity) in the US alone equates to the annual output of 12 power plants, according to the Office of Sustainability at Harvard University.
Simplify the process of turning off by adding several devices to power strips.
- Use blinds. Exterior awnings, internal blinds or curtains, or traditional wooden shutters will block out the sun’s rays keeping your home cool. There are materials that block heat but allow light through so you don’t need to be in the dark. Close them in the morning and open them in the evening.
- Plant trees. Planting deciduous trees on the sunny side of your property add shade helping block out the sun’s heat during the summer but allowing the winter sun through. An eco-friendly means of cooling using natural resources.
- Thermal mass. Walls of brick, earth or solid masonry should be placed where they will best be able to absorb heat in the colder months and be shaded in the warmer months. This means it is best to put it near windows or other glazed areas where it will be exposed to direct sunlight in winter. The north side of the house is generally best; the thicker the better.
- Insulate. Good for keeping your house warm in the winter, insulating and draught-proofing your home will keep it cool in summer!
- Upgrade your roof. Black absorbs heat, as do metal and asphalt. Consider painting your roof a pale colour, or install a green roof or living roof – a roof that is partially or completely covered with vegetation and a growing medium over a waterproofing membrane. At the very minimum, insulate under the roof.
- Ventilate hot air. Use hob, bathroom and laundry vents to send hot, humid air outside. Open the ventilation strips in windows, doors and air bricks when outside temps drop (e.g. in the evening).
- Use a fan. Fans use much less energy than air conditioning, Placing a bowl of ice in front of the fan will cool the air further. If you do need AC don’t set your thermostat to low – keep it around 25°C.
- Turn off appliances. Everything plugged into a socket will generate heat, so unplug everything that doesn’t need to be on.
- Reduce your meat and dairy consumption. Meat and dairy have a very high carbon and water footprint (especially beef and lamb).
One of the most powerful actions you can take to reduce your climate impact is to reduce and consider vegetarian or vegan options. 10-15% of global climate-changing gases are from meat and dairy production.
- Go Vegan. Eating plant-based foods is better for the climate – full stop! When the rainforest is being cut down to grow soya beans for feeding to cows you begin to see the lunacy of our current food chain situation.
That’s not to say all vegan foods are good. Some foods have a high carbon footprint, such as out of season tomatoes and air-freighted asparagus.
Prefer local (or grow your own) and in-season foods. If going vegan is a step too far, have meat and dairy-free days but buy from your local farmer’s market.
- Eat what you buy. Reduce food waste! The UK throws away 9.52 million tonnes of food per year – 70% or 6.6 million tonnes of which is from UK households and 4.5 million tonnes of that was edible.
This waste food emits 25 million tonnes of greenhouse gases (GHG) every year or 5.5% of our entire national GHG emissions.
This is more than Kenya’s total annual emissions, a country of 53 million people! The consumable food wastage in 2018 cost the UK a total of £19 billion and was enough to create an additional 10.5 billion meals. We’re not alone, one-third of food produced globally goes to waste.
- Reuse left-overs. Store uneaten food in reusable containers (try to avoid plastic wrap) to make further meals.
- Share your home. One way to reduce your personal footprint and cut emissions is to share your home. This might not be an obvious eco-friendly tip but it will reduce demands on new builds, saving land and emissions produced from manufacturing processes.
- Extended family households. Whether it’s ageing parents or younger relatives, many adults continue to live in multi-family homes.
Retrofitting houses to provide a degree of autonomy for these situations, whilst being economical and environmental is more than achievable.
- Rent spare rooms. Renting out spare rooms is a great option for both owners and renters. It was common practice before modern “progress” with single dwelling apartments.
- Work from home. Working from home has become more mainstream for many since the Covid pandemic. Doing so has many benefits such as cutting congestion, reducing stress, air pollution and carbon emissions. It can also provide for a better work/life balance all while being eco friendly.
- Grow your own food. Plant fruit and nut trees, herbs, vines and vegetables to create a low maintenance food production system.
Growing your own food will reduce food miles, and the trees and soil will absorb carbon. With the right plants, your garden can be resilient to floods and droughts. Once established, your garden can continue to produce food with little or no artificial energy input, chemical fertiliser or pesticides.
- Bioremediation. The plants you choose can be used for cleaning the soil, water, and air, a process called bioremediation. Placing the right plants in the right places will actually make your garden a healthier space to spend your time.
- Compost. Compost is decomposed organic material, such as leaves, grass clippings, loose leaf tea, and kitchen waste. It provides many essential nutrients enriching your soil, it can help retain moisture and suppress plant diseases and pests helping plant growth. Using compost can reduce the need for chemical fertilizers.
- Save water. Steps like mulching and the use of low water irrigation systems can help conserve water. Collect rainwater using barrels and use it as a preference to tap water.
- Vertical gardening. If you have little or no outside space you can still get growing. You can grow vegetables, herbs, and flowers in a vertical garden. All you need is a sunny windowsill to get growing.
- Microgreens. Microgreens are essentially seedlings of vegetables and herbs. They are easy to grow, don’t take up much space, full of nutrients, and are packed with intense flavours.
– Avoid single-use plastics
- Stop buying bottled water, get some reusable water bottles and fill them from your tap.
- Take your own reusable bags when you go shopping
– Shop Consciously
- Seek out companies with good ethical practices and a clear line on environmental issues.
- Chose products with long-lasting value and durability that have decent warranties and can be repaired. Avoid throw-away purchasing.
- Buy products that make a difference to the planet, such as 1% for the planet.
- Don’t buy it. Wait 30 days before you make a purchase.
- Look for companies offering recycling programs for their products.
– Live Local
– Give new life to old electronics
– Donate used goods
What does it mean to be eco-friendly?
Being eco-friendly means living a healthier lifestyle in a way that doesn’t harm the planet by overusing our natural resources and polluting our environment.
What are the examples of eco-friendly?
Examples of being eco-friendly include recycling, using recycled materials, favouring minimal packaging, plastic-free product packaging, not using plastic bags, using biodegradable bags, using reusable bags, ditching bottled water in plastic bottles and using reusable water bottles, using reusable co disposing of waste in appropriate recycling bins, using less energy, preferring eco-friendly products, riding bikes or walking instead of driving cars. The simple act of choosing Eco-friendly products can prevent contributions to air, water and land pollution.
What are some examples of green living?
Green living is a lifestyle that incorporates minimal environmental impact. This includes sustainable practices in the realms of transportation, food and diet, energy conservation and many more.
It takes some planning to live green but it’s worth it because you are helping save our planet for generations to come.
Why green living is important?
Green living is important because it benefits the environment, and our health and helps us save money.
It can seem overwhelming to make changes in your life that will have an immediate and long-term impact. But if you’re ready to embrace the sustainable living movement, it doesn’t need to be so hard.
In this blog, we have provided some tips for green and sustainable living at home that should help get you started on making some easy changes today!