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How to make your home greener and more eco-friendly

By George Hadgelias

Be a friend to the environment and your bank balance. Live greener with our easy tips for every budget. 

If you think a green household will burn a hole in your pocket, we’re here for reassurance.

You don’t need to start upgrading, replacing or spending extra on every item in your house to a more eco-friendly model. The best solution is to ignore the marketing, and think about what you really need. After all, being green also means reducing waste.

1. Replace items on a needs basis

Just because your old washing machine has a less than stellar energy rating doesn’t mean you need to ditch it. Excess waste is a huge contributor to the destruction of our planet so do some research to see if you’re going to leave a bigger negative footprint by throwing away something that is still valuable, rather than using it until it needs replacing. This rule also applies to things like carpeting, curtains, furniture and household appliances. If it’s still functional, there’s no need to replace it.

2. Take advantage of green government incentives

From solar panel rebates to compost assistance to cash-back schemes for lighting and recycling, most states have household sustainability initiatives in place – it’s just about knowing where to look.

Start with the government’s energy rebates and assistance search engine to hone in on advice and initiatives applicable to your home state.

At a more local level, stay abreast of local council initiatives, from community gardening hubs or council clean-up days (also great for sourcing treasure in other’s trash).

3. Choose energy efficient lighting

The most efficient lightbulbs you can get are LEDs (light emitting diodes). By purchasing energy efficient light bulbs you can cut your electricity bill by up to 80%.

Some governments even offer incentives to switch to LEDs.

Sensor or timed lighting is another route to energy efficiency, as is using solar-powered lights in outdoor areas.

4. Block drafts for better heating

If you own the home you live in, it’s worth it to invest in a professional to fix these problems. If you rent, or you’re totally strapped for cash, you could try a good old-fashioned draft snake.

Placed underneath doors and where the windows meet the sills, they’ll keep cold air out and warm air in, reducing your heating bill and keeping your home warm during the colder months.

They also work in summer to keep the hot air out of your air-conditioned home.

5. Insulate for energy efficiency

Insulation will help keep your house cooler in summer and warmer in winter.

Retrofitting insulation can be difficult depending on the style of your home and it’s accessibility. If ceiling and under-floor cavities are easily accessed, however, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to ramp this up.

The type of insulation you opt for may be influenced by whether you live in a predominantly warm or cool climate. Do some research in your local area for the best option.

Check with your local state government to see if there are any rebates on offer to insulate for energy efficiency.

6. Buy a shower timer

It’s easy to forget how long you’ve been in the shower and although this tip has been around for decades it still holds relevance.

By using a shower timer and cutting your showers down to two minutes you’ll not only be saving one of our most precious natural resources, you’ll also be saving on your water and energy bill.

7. Switch off some electricals when you’re not home

Standby power is a real energy suck. So when you’re leaving home or going to sleep, make sure non-essential switches are off.

According to Choice, older appliances or items with a lower energy star-rating were worse offenders than their newer, more energy efficient models.

Investing in smart power boards and switches can help cut standby power costs. For instance, a master/slave power board for your home office means that when you switch off your computer (the master) the board will automatically switch off connected devices, like speakers, printers, scanners and so on.

8. Turn the heat down by one degree

If you turn down your heater by just one degree this winter your body will not be able to register the drop in temperature and you’ll see noticeable savings for that quarter.

It seems like an obvious point but warm clothing and socks are much better value for money than energy bills. Every degree you increase your heating can add up to 10% on your energy use.

9. Make your own eco-friendly cleaning products

There are dozens of excellent websites that have fabulous green cleaning recipes.

Make baking soda and lemons your new cleaning staples and ditch those expensive mainstream cleaning products. They’re not only cheaper they’re also greener.

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