7 Ways to be More Sustainable on a Budget
From cheap insulation ideas to zero-cost home updates, these expert tips will help you save money and energy
Sustainability doesn’t have to be expensive, as TV presenter and sustainability champion Kevin McCloud explained in his interview with Houzz earlier this year. His top tip for retrofitting your home on a budget? A roll of insulation tape.
“If I only had £50, I would go to my nearest hardware shop and spend a few quid on self-adhesive draught-excluding tape to seal any unwanted gaps around doors and windows,” he says.
“I’d probably spend the rest on tripling the insulation in the loft. In addition, many Victorian homes have a cellar and people forget it can cause draughts, so remember to insulate that, too.”
Read the rest of Kevin McCloud’s tips.
An even more affordable tip came from a story for Houzz by LWK London Kitchens, which advised turning off the standby mode on your electrical appliances for an instant energy save.
Appliances, TVs and gadgets turned to standby still require energy, particularly for maintaining the appliance’s “sleep” status. “This is especially so if the appliance has LED lights or a flashing display that remains in place when the appliance isn’t being used,” Graeme Wilson explains.
“With the exception of fridges and freezers, most appliances can be switched off at the plug when not in use, and doing so can save an average household between £45 and £80 a year,” he says.
“If this is a problem in your house,” he adds, “then it’s worth looking into Standby Savers, which let you turn off multiple appliances with one switch.”
You might also enjoy 10 Tips for Saving Energy (and Money) in the Kitchen.
New kitchens can be expensive, but you can reduce the price tag, as well as your environmental impact, by buying the entire thing second-hand.
“It’s unbelievable some of the kitchens people want to get rid of,” says Looeeze Grossman of The Used Kitchen Company, which specialises in second-hand kitchen sales, from high end to high street.
The company sources ex-display models (such as the one pictured here), as well as good-quality kitchens from homeowners who are replacing them, at up to 70% of the original cost; prices range from £1,750 to £50,000 plus.
You might also enjoy How Can I Renovate My Kitchen Sustainably?
Looking for a kitchen designer or fitter in your area? Browse reviews in the Houzz Professionals Directory.
In a bathroom, there are several steps you can take to reduce your environmental impact. One is to restrict the flow of your shower.
Standard showers tend to deliver a flow rate of 13.5 litres per minute, while flow-regulated ones reduce this to 10 litres per minute. “Although this can translate to significant water savings over the year, the difference in the shower performance is barely noticeable,” Lisa Ward of Bristan says.
Also look for models that feature an aerator, which enriches the water with air, so the flow contains less water while keeping its volume.
You might also enjoy Small Steps to Saving Water in the Bathroom.
Another quick fix to reduce your environmental impact in the bathroom is to reduce the amount of water you use each time you flush the toilet.
“Flushing toilets are truly one of the cornerstone inventions of the modern world, but they can generally do the job with less water,” say Helen Yeadon and Joe Stewart of YellowDoor Architecture. “Place a cistern displacement device in your dual-flush toilet cistern to reduce the volume of water used in each flush. You can get one of these from your water provider.”
You might also enjoy 10 Quick Ways to be More Eco-friendly with Water.
Washing your clothes less often is a quick way to reduce energy bills, so if you throw things in the machine without thinking, perhaps an overhaul of your habits could save you money.
If every wash is essential, though, you can still reduce your energy use by making sure you operate both your washing machine and dishwasher at a lower temperature, and each with a full load.
LWK London Kitchens advises, “If you’re buying a new machine, choose one with a half-load button. Also, by switching from a hot wash to a warm wash, over the course of a year you could cut the energy consumption of these appliances in half.”
You might also enjoy How to be More Green When You Clean.
Garden lighting can be an energy drain, but using solar-powered garden lights can instantly take you off-grid outside, removing the need for cables, hard wiring and outside sockets.
Pip Probert, designer of the Contemplation Corner Garden at the RHS Flower Show Tatton Park suggests choosing solar-powered lights and water features to reduce the electricity used in your garden.
“There are lots of different styles available and they’re very easy to install,” he says. “They’re improving all the time and will store energy from the natural light during the day and release it when needed at night.”
You might also enjoy 10 Ways to Get an Eco-friendly Garden.
Which of these tips are you most likely to implement? Let us know in the Comments.