This is a contributed post from Kane.
It’s come to a point where no one can ignore climate change and the impact it’s having on people, their homes and their communities. One thing we know is we can all strive to become more sustainable. Starting at home. But how do we do that? And how do we do it when there’s no money in the bank to get started?
The best way to create a sustainable home is to do it in stages. Starting with saving up your money and getting onboard with budget-friendly changes straightaway.
Save Up For Big Ticket Items
Although small measures do matter, they’re not going to make your home completely sustainable. So, you need to plan for the future and save for those big-ticket items such as solar panels, and heating and temperature control systems.
With the average cost of a 5KW solar panel installation coming in at £8,000 or $11,000, it’s not an easily affordable change to make to your home. But it could drastically improve your sustainability.
Solar panels are fantastic if you live where there’s long daylight hours, plenty of sun and a place where you can locate them for full function.
Solar panels aren’t the only major investment you may need to make to become truly sustainable and future-proof your home against climate change.
Improve Climate Control
Efficient climate control measures such as reflective windows, cool roofs and ducting systems may become necessary in hot climates. And will certainly be more affordable to run than trying to cool your home by conventional air conditioning fans and units.
These big ticket items may need to include the tricky retro-fitting of insulation to passive house standards. This ensures that no heat is lost through walls and roofs and is in fact recycled to keep the house warmer for longer. You also may need to get ground or air source heat pumps or heat exchangers installed to make all this function properly.
Sustainability On A Budget
Being more sustainable doesn’t always mean you need to spend more money though. Reducing your bills, wasting less and making small changes, is the key. We’ll look more closely at some of the small but important changes you can make in a moment, but first let’s look at the sustainable measures that don’t require an initial outlay and actually save you money.
You may have read articles recommending that you switch off or unplug electricals when you’re not using them. But you should also be aware of how much electricity different appliances use. Smaller sized appliances don’t necessarily use less power.
For example, kettles can use up to 3,000 watts, putting it on par with a typical washing machine and higher than many ovens. Knowing what’s using a lot of energy can help you use it wiser and significantly reduce your usage. This not only makes your home more sustainable but reduces your energy bills, so it’s win, win.
Energy isn’t the only thing you can reduce to create a sustainable home. Reducing food waste and plastic packaging is something else you can do to increase your sustainability credentials and it doesn’t cost a lot to do.
What you will need to do is get better at planning meals and shopping selectively. Plus, it’s helpful to have reusable containers for freezing leftovers and storing food without using single-use plastic bags or wrap.
If you’re pretty new to living sustainably, then make use of the free resources out there. These can be really handy for guiding you on your journey to an eco-friendly homelife. But on the flip-side, you need to be wary of companies selling you eco-friendly solutions that you really don’t need.
There’s nothing wrong with saving your money and taking the DIY approach to energy efficiency, such as taping up draughts.
Creating A Sustainable Home: Make Small Changes First
The best way to successfully create a sustainable home on a budget is to make small changes straight away and save for the big changes later. Reducing the number of new things you buy for your home also helps.
And the first question you should ask yourself, is do you need to buy it at all? That could be a fancy new coffee machine or a new pair of jeans, it doesn’t matter. Just ask yourself honestly. Next, you need to ask whether you need to buy it new.
Preloved goods not only save you money but can save clothes, furniture and other things from heading to the dump. This means you can be thrifty and sustainable in one go.
Of course, there is another way to prolong the life of items. And that is to repair them. Learning how to repair and upcycle pays dividends. Even if you have to pay for classes to teach you how, it’ll be worth it as you’ll have a lifelong skill. And who knows, you could turn that skill into a profitable side hustle.
Beyond this, you can make other small changes to reduce what you use. And outside is a good example of this. Harvesting rain to water your garden and rigging up a drip irrigation system reduces your water usage. And could save you time and effort keeping your plants healthy. So, start small by putting out a tub to collect rainwater and go from there.
Don’t Replace Everything At Once
Now we’ve looked at how to be sustainable on a budget and how to make small but important changes to your home and your lifestyle. Now let’s look at how to continue that good work with more changes and improvements you can make directly to your home.
The first thing to say is that you really don’t need to do all these things at once. Because let’s face it, it’s unreasonable to try. Money, time, and other practicalities need to be considered.
So, make changes such as replacing windows and appliances for more energy-efficient and sustainable ones, as the need arises. And spend your money wisely.
Firstly, when you’re buying new appliances, look for good energy ratings. This will reduce your power usage, which is good for the environment and your bank balance. Different countries use different rating systems, which can be confusing. So, check what the product’s energy rating really means and if any descriptions are vague, be suspicious.
Make sure they’re of good quality, so they last. This may mean spending a bit more, but you will save money if you replace a washing machine once a decade, rather than every few years. So, look for long or lifetime guarantees, as this means the company is confident of the quality of their product.
This counts for windows, doors, insulating materials and draught-proofing installations too. These things degrade over time, so finding the best on offer pays out in the end.
Next, make sure appliances are fixable, so you can repair them rather than replace them. Do your research. Look for electronics that aren’t sealed units and have buyable spare parts. This will ensure your appliances aren’t filling up rubbish dumps unnecessarily.
This goes for things other than your obvious domestic appliances, but for your heating and air conditioning systems and lawn mower too. The world is waking up to making products more repairable, so this should get easier with time.