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Everything we do in and to our home will affect the environment one way or another, either for good or bad. Becoming aware of this is an important first step, which can lead to considerable savings for you, as well as benefiting the environment. This also includes improving energy efficiency in your home. And there are a number of ways in which you can make your current home “greener” that will put more “green” in your pocket too. Insulation is an important first step in reducing energy usage and reducing your outgoings. It’s even more important now with the rising cost of energy these days. And there have been many improvements to insulation in recent years that make it more effective and efficient as well as even safer in the home. Those walls, lofts and attic spaces can lose huge amounts of expensive heat from your house, so insulating them can save you a great deal of money as well as making a more comfortable home – warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. After all, insulation works both ways! A lot of insulation is very easy to install or lay down, or you can go for a professional job and get an approved contractor to install cavity wall insulation. Once you have the insulation in place, it’s worth looking at the types of heating and air conditioning systems that are available. Modern ones are all so much more energy efficient. While the initial costs may seem a bit steep, you should recover your money in the long run, through lower bills. Before agreeing to buy any new system, check whether there are any grants available to you locally, or any other help. It is possible that some grants for those on a low income or those over a certain age may be available. Sometimes financial help is only available for certain systems or by using certain installation contractors. Check up on the required conditions to be met before signing up for anything. Solar panels are one way of providing additional heat and power in your house. The costs of installing these have come down considerably and the latest designs are a lot more efficient and easy to maintain. The panels are also more attractive and with so many people opting for this form of additional heat and power generation, solar panels have become very much the “in-thing” in many neighbourhoods. You may have a local contractor who can install solar panels for you or you may need to check for a national company. Whichever you chose, make sure they are certified to fit and install solar panels correctly. Solar panel installation at an information center adjacent to Ögii Lake (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Solar panel installation at an information cen... Windows are another source of heat loss in winter and heat gain in summer and many homes still have the original windows, which may be outdated by today’s standards for energy conservation. They may also have shrunk from their frames, creating draughts. Where possible, think about replacing windows with double, or even triple-glazed windows. It’s not necessary to do every window at the same time, these can be done bit by bit if necessary. And in some houses, there may be certain windows that need replacing anyway or where you have already noticed cold draughts in the winter winds. Cutting out the heat loss from windows (and doors) can have a very beneficial effect on your bills! In hotter climates, you can even get tinted glass that will reflect the sun’s glare during the summer. Quite aside from insulation, if you are going to redecorate your home, you can now get healthier paints that are free from VOCs (volatile organic compounds). and this is another way to get your house greener and make it a safer and healthier place for you and your family. Let’s take a look now at water. Rainwater may be scarce in some areas, but when it does fall, you can collect it for free and make good use of it, saving your water bills. There are a number of ways to collect rainwater, from rain barrels (keep them covered to prevent accidents and to keep insects out) to underground tanks set into your garden.

You can collect rainwater through your downpipes using an adapter. The water can be used for washing your car, watering plants and is even said to be very good for washing hair, leaving it soft. There are also many ways now to save water inside the house, by using less. For instance, there are a number of new toilet models available. These use less water than older models. Some have two buttons, one for a short flush, one for a longer flush where necessary. You can also get more modern shower heads that will use less water. As water bills increase, replacing your toilet or your shower head with a more modern one incorporating water saving technology can save you money over time. It’s important to think through any changes you may want to make. Anything you do must always consider whether you can afford it and just how much of a saving it will make for you. But in general, you will find that being kind to the environment will also be kind on your pocket! Check out a few of these ideas and see if you can make your house greener and more eco friendly!

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