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Ten Steps to a Greener Home That Won’t Cost the Earth

by James Lea and Fiona Williams, Winter 2004

We can no longer ignore the evidence: climate change is officially the biggest threat to the planet, more serious than global terrorism, according to the government’s chief scientist, Sir David King. But what can we, as individuals, do about it? In the face of such a global crisis, many of us feel powerless to act, let alone find a solution. But, in fact, it’s in our own backyards that we can start to make a difference.

Here are just ten simple steps we’ve taken in our urban home to ‘live more lightly’, save resources and do our bit to save the planet.

Going Green in Ten Steps

 

1. Recycle waste

e.g. glass, cans, paper and cardboard. To make it even easier, Brighton and Hove Council (www.brighton-hove.gov.uk) is introducing kerbside collection; this will include plastics.

2. Compost food wasteA worm compost bin, excellent for breaking down kitchen waste quickly.

This includes vegetables, fruit (but not meat or fish), egg boxes, paper cartons and other packaging. We did this in a rented second floor flat with no outside space by using a worm composting bin (the worms break down the waste rapidly and there is no smell).

Good Energy, a 100% renewable energy supplier in the UK.3. Buy renewable energy

We switched our electricity supplier to Good Energy (www.good-energy.co.uk), a 100% renewable energy supplier. Our electricity bills have remained the same but the environment’s no longer paying the price.

4. Save waterA rainwater butt, used to collect roof water for flushing the toilet and watering the garden.

by fitting a low flush toilet and low-flow thermostatic mixer taps. Collect rainwater in a water butt. Ours is used both to water the garden and flush the toilet (rainwater flushing systems are available from www.greenbuildingstore.co.uk). Finally, fit a water meter - Southern Water (www.southernwater.co.uk) will do this at no cost so you can measure how much water, and money, you’ve saved.

5. Buy locally produced food

organic if possible. Infinity Food and Sunny Foods are good local suppliers. Supermarket food has rarely been produced locally; instead it has travelled large distances by road, generating congestion and pollution.

6. Fit energy efficient lighting

and turn lights off if you don’t need them; fit energy efficient bulbs for lights that are in constant use.

Thermafleece - a safe non-toxic biodegradeable sheep wool insulation material with low embodied energy.7. Insulate and draught seal

- draughty homes waste a lot of heat, but take care not to over-insulate otherwise the house can become stuffy, which isn't good for people who suffer from allergies. We used Thermafleece sheep wool to insulate our loft (www.secondnatureuk.com).

 

8. Install energy efficient heating

We’ve fitted a gas condensing boiler (by www.southernsolar.co.uk); these are over 90% efficient, and help to reduce house C02 emissions. Underfloor heating is much more efficient than radiators (and much pleasanter, who says you have to suffer to be green?)

A small 20W solar panel providing clean silent power for 30 years.9. Fit solar panels

We’ve fitted a small solar panel for providing back up electricity. This is a simple system which could be made much larger and connected to the house.

Solar Century (www.solarcentury.co.uk) supply residential scale systems which may also be eligible for up to 50% subsidy from a government grant via the Energy Savings Trust (www.est.org.uk/solar/).

 

 

10. Grow your own foodHome grown carrots and tomatoes - far tastier than any supermarket variety!

in your back garden, windowsills, balcony or roof terrace. We’ve grown tomatoes and basil on indoor windowsills, as well as rocket, chillies, coriander, onions and salad leaves in our patio.

 

 

 

 

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-- (c) James Lea, www.GreenLiving.co.uk, 2005 - 2007 --