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TV presenter Georgina Burnett’s top DIY & Interior Design guide to reducing our home carbon footprint

Top Tips

Only 45% of homes in the UK recycle household wastage
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•DIY & Interior Design expert Georgina Burnett’s top eco-tips for National Home Improvement Month

This month is National Home Improvement Month (NHIM) – a month dedicated to encouraging Brits to improve their homes by making one simple change. While it’s tempting to replace and throw away items or materials, there are a variety of different greener alternatives you can use to help out the environment while helping out your pocket.

To help get us started, DIY and interior design expert Georgina Burnett has outlined her four most important tips.

Step 1 – Recycle
New is not always better, and only 45% of homes in the UK recycle household wastage – so why not make use of what we already have with a variety of different options available to kit out your home while being eco-friendly.

As Georgina notes, “Using reclaimed furniture giving us more of a homely look instead of shelling out for new furniture that looks plastic, overtly shiny and made of poor quality wood. Buying new furniture isn’t an indication of quality, there’s plenty of reclaimed wood that is strong because the timber has had more time to grow.”

The increased popularity in reclaimed wood has directly resulted in a decline for logging and demand for timber allowing trees to grow longer adding extra quality to the wood we do use. Choosing reclaimed wood and reclaimed furniture can last longer than newer alternatives and easily found. You can find an assortment of lavish second-hand furniture available from sofas to storage at a fraction of the cost, or even for free on popular recycling exchange websites.
Georgina’s top tips: Use reclaimed furniture, reclaimed wood and make use of second-hand furniture.

Step 2 – Insulate
Homes that are not insulated are costing valuable energy, money, and resources you could be allocating better elsewhere. Georgina recommends considering thinking long-term looking into insulating your home properly and paying attention to key areas where there may be draughts, leakages or thin walls.

Georgina adds, “Putting some money aside for appropriate insulation will increase the value of your home, keep you warmer for longer while saving you money from the get-go.” If you are unsure on how to begin, you can start by using reflective insulation as a cost-effective way to dip your toes into the insulation world with one metre costing less than £10.

Additionally, you can insulate your home easier than you think by simply adding or changing curtains. Georgina comments, “Changing your curtains can be the difference from naturally opening up curtains to natural draughts or to heating up a room using warmth retention by closing them,” says Georgina. “Getting linen curtains in a colour style with a warm colour allowing you to be as versatile as possible through different seasons.”

Georgina’s top tips: Add double glazing, draught-proof windows, and lofts. Change your curtains.

Step 3 – Energy
Over the past few years, we’ve seen an assortment of lighting innovations and lighting products which can feel overwhelming. You needn’t live in complete darkness in your home, simply changing light bulbs, adding timers or using solar power can significantly reduce your carbon footprint and bills without altering your lifestyle too much.

As Georgina notes, “Plug timers might appear old fashioned but they can really go a long way, and you can combine this with LED lighting to significantly reduce the amount of energy you use.” LED lights are proven to be up to 80% more efficient than using halogen lights, while being just as bright and using 85% less power. With all the benefits to using LED lighting, the only downside is that LED bulbs tend to cost more than traditional halogen ones – however, the energy savings you make will save you more money in the long-run.

Georgina’s top tips: Switch to LED lights and use plug timers.

Step 4 – Appliances
Anyone who owns appliances can already make a significant change to their bills and carbon footprint by making a few simple changes without too much effort. You’ll be glad to hear that you can essentially wash clothes just as well at 40° using significantly less energy than you would at 60° while avoiding any unintentional hand-me-down creations due to shrinkages.

In addition, you can reduce further water wastage and put the bath vs shower debate to bed by switching taps and shower heads. As Georgina points out, “By switching to a low-flow showerhead where the air is bubbled in with the water, you can significantly reduce the amount of water used.“Using a low-flow showerhead combined with a lower temperature can ensure a better shower using less energy.”

Furthermore, there are numerous benefits to lowering your thermostat and using less energy overall so why not give it a try.

Georgina’s top tips: Wash clothes at 40° max, lower your thermostat, use low-flow showerheads and keep showers to 10 minutes.

To get involved or find out more about how to go green, visit www.homeimprovementmonth.co.uk.