Here are nine ways to improve your home, and make it a more eco-friendly.

Becoming eco-friendly will not only help you contribute to a sustainable environment but it has proven to save you money.

Water Water is one of the earths most precious commodity, so we need to make efforts to conserve where and what we can. There are really simple changes we can make at home that many of us don’t even think about. We waste so much water each day, in the shower, washing our teeth, even cleaning the bathroom! Encourage everyone in the house to be mindful of the water they use. Ask everyone to have shorter showers, not to leave the tap running when cleaning their face or brushing their teeth. Small changes yes, but the combined efforts in a household will add up. Think about installing a a low-flow shower-head – these have been shown to save up to 160,000 liters of water for a family of four. They are available in Woodies, or most main hardware shops.

Energy efficient lighting Energy efficient light bulbs have been around for many years now, but it still surprises us how few people are using them in their homes. Energy efficient bulbs use less electricity and they last longer. It seems like a simple change we could all make.

Solar panels It’s a common misconception that we don’t get enough sunshine in Ireland to make solar panels a viable and efficient option for our home. But even in a bad year, Ireland gets 70 per cent of the sun Madrid gets. Solar PV systems generate electricity during daylight hours only, predominately around the middle of the day. In Ireland, around 75% is produced from May to September.

Solar panels operate on the principal that black surfaces attract heat from the sun. Just like the roof of a black car on a sunny day. The heat is generated in the solar panel and transferred to the hot water cylinder, where it can be used.

There are two types of solar panels to consider.

Solar photovoltaic (PV) modules produce electricity. These panels generate electricity when exposed to light. Solar PV is the rooftop solar you see on homes and businesses.

Solar panels that produce hot water are known as solar thermal collectors or solar hot water collectors.

Check with the SEAI for grants available (approx €1,200) and many companies will provide you with a free quote.

Insulation Using as little energy as we can is a great step towards becoming energy efficient in our homes. So, it’s essential that we try to conserve as much of it as we can. By insulating your home correctly, your home will hold in the heat, which means you don’t need to burn energy reheating the home all of the time. Your walls and the roof are the two obvious places where insulation can be installed (of course this is better done at the build phase). You can also consider double glazing any windows that don’t already have it.

Use recycleable products Paper towels in the kitchen are a common sight and we are probably all guilty of using too much of it. Wiping up spills, cleaning the counter tops etc… But would it be so bad to use cloths instead? Cut up old towels or clothes and use these. They are far more durable and create far less waste. Yes, they need to be washed, but soaking these at the end of each day in a little (eco friendly of course!) detergent will freshen them up. Just  have a few on the go to alternate.

Clean your appliances We just don’t really think about this. We only worry about our appliances when they start breaking down But if you make a point of maintaining these every few weeks / months, it will help the machine last longer and run more efficiently! So, clean out the lint drawer in your dryer, clean out the fridge, clean your washing machine (running a cycle with vinegar can do wonders).

Get some plants Turn some of that CO2 into O2 just by potting a a few nice house plants! Yes, they take a little minding (I’m still trying to master this!), but how great do they look? Great for the environment and they add great character to your house too.

Packaging. We won’t dwell on this one too much because there are so many articles and posts on Wasted talking about this already. But it really is a place where we all need to pay more attention. The more we look for products with less packaging in our supermarkets and shops, the quicker the retailers will get the message. Hopefully this will see them using less packaging in the first place!

Keep checking in with us at wasted.ie for more tips!