When people think of ‘green’ DIY or home improvement, they often think of renewable energy, such as insulation. These are such big topics in their own right that we have specific sections on them (click on the links), and we also have a section all about the Green energy grants and incentive schemes that are available to encourage you to taken tome up.
This section is about all the other green DIY projects that you should consider when you are tackling your next home improvement project. The aim of this section is to give you ideas about how you can be “more green” when doing DIY and explain in detail how you can get the same quality job, with less of an environmental impact.
Green DIY and the Big Picture
Housing is responsible for approximately a third of all the United Kingdom’s CO2 emissions*. Of this, nearly three quarters is from the heating of water and space*. You can see why the focus on renewable energy and insulation has been quite so keen, however there are other arrears which make up the balance.
In the UK, the construction of building, and the manufacture and transport of these materials to site are thought to account for 10% of the total UK CO2 emissions.
There is good news in that globally huge strides are being made to reduce the impact that building and construction has on the environment. For example, the World Green Building Trends 2016 Report suggests that developers globally were aspiring to 60% of project “green” by 2018. Whether these targets have been achieve or not, if shows that the aspiration is there.
Green DIY and Home Improvements
As you can see just from the data about CO2 there is a significant impact being made by homes and construction in the UK. Therefore anything that can be done will have an impact.
At one end of the scale you can build a Passive House (or Passivhaus) which is a home that uses that absolute minimum of energy for either heating or cooling. They are designed in ways to ensure that heat loss is so low that heating is hardly required, if at all. You can find out all about Passivhaus design at the Passivhaus Trust website: http://www.passivhaustrust.org.uk/what_is_passivhaus.php.
This is beyond most people, even the most accomplished aspiring self-builder. So what can be done at a DIY home improvement level?
Top Ten Green DIY Home Improvement Projects
These are our suggestions for the most effective and satisfying projects that you can do to your home that are “Green”:
- Draught proof: This is the quickest and simplest way to save money on your heating bills. It will have the quickest payback and can be down by anyone of any DIY skill level. Get started on your draught proofing now with this simple advice
- Green Products: This is a big one and often hard to achieve, but where you can you should hunt out eco friendly product for your DIY Projects. There is a perception that eco friendly products will be poorer quality, but this is not the case these days. Think about using Eco friendly paints or paint strippers, for example
- Use Tech: As Home Automation becomes more main stream and manufacturers get smarter it is possible to use devices to reduce your and your home’s impact of the environment. Smart thermostats that “learn” your routine and lighting that can be controlled remotely can all help to reduce make you ‘greener’. Read more in our section all about zoning and heating controls.
- Recycle: While your council are sure to be encouraging you to recycle your household waste, you can also try to recycle your building and DIY materials as much as possible. Separate your waste as much as possible and dispose of it at recycling centres – recycled waste is much cheaper to get rid of than general waste. Here are some waste disposal tips from UK Green Building Council
- Permeability: Water is a very precious asset and because we live in a wet country we tend to take it for granted. There are other problems that our buildings cause our management of our water supplies; runoff. Think about solutions that allow water to soak-away into the ground rather than filling the drainage system. Permeable paths and driveways and using soak-aways will help. Here’s excellent guidance on permeable surfacing for front gardens
- Water Saving: While we’re on the water saving theme, why not consider getting water saving taps, showers and toilets if you are renovating a bathroom? It’s not just the water that you are using, it is the water that needs to be treated after you’ve used it too. The less you use the less impact you will have, and the less you’ll pay
- Appliance of Science: We have a whole section about Fixed Appliances for much more information, but when you are thinking of getting a new cooker or fridge, get one which is as economical as you can get. It’ll probably cost a little more up front but you should be able to make up the saving through the reduced running costs
- New Boiler: If your boiler is over 10 years old then you should consider getting a new one. The technology has improved considerably and you will see a marked difference in comfort and in your bill. The payback could be in the region of 10 years according to Energy Saving Trust figures so it you’re not planning to move any time soon, it a great option
- Bulb Change: Using low energy bulbs is a great way to reduce your environmental impact. This is possibly one of the easiest DIY projects that you can do to change your light bulb to low energy versions, but it can be more complex if you need to change the light fitting if needed
- TRV’s: Thermostatic Radiator Valves or TRV’s are a great way controlling your radiators and therefore the heating in your home. Fitting these can be a DIY Project and it will give you individual control over each radiator in your home. Find out more in out TRV project
There is no shortage in the types and variety of eco-friendly or green DIY home improvement projects that you can consider. This section is all about give you suggestions and the confidence to take a more green approach to your next home improvement project.