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Make your home more eco-friendly

Melanie Whitehouse / 03 February 2016

There’s more to being eco-friendly than recycling your rubbish and buying organic, and if we all make little changes in our everyday lives we will help the planet – and save money.

Eco-friendly cleaning products
Limit the use of chemicals in your house by using non-toxic cleaning products

Eco-friendly living means conserving natural resources whenever and however we can. Whether it’s turning off lights, using green washing products or growing our own veg, it all counts. What's more, greener living can also save you money.

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Turn down appliances

According to the Energy Saving Trust, around £30 a year can be saved by turning off appliances, rather than leaving them in standby mode. (This shouldn’t upset their programming, although some satellite and digital TV recorders may need to be left plugged in to keep track of programmes being recorded.)

Around £50 a year can be saved in the kitchen:

  • Use a bowl to wash up rather than a running tap and save £30 a year in energy bills.
  • Only fill the kettle with the amount of water that you need and save around £7 a year.
  • Cut back your washing machine use by just one cycle per week and save £5 a year on energy.

Find out how to cut your energy bills

Use eco-friendly cleaning products

Eco-friendly cleaning products - from kitchen sprays and bathroom products to dishwashing detergents and liquid soaps – are readily available on supermarket shelves.

Non-toxic cleaners you can make for yourself include baking soda – a great all-purpose cleaner, scourer, polisher and fungicide – white vinegar for window cleaning and grouting, and natural disinfectants like tea tree and citrus oils.

A damp microfibre cloth attracts dirt without using any cleaners, and cleans everything from glass to wood, basins and floors.

Invest in an energy-saving shower head (best with a shower that takes hot water straight from your boiler or hot water tank, rather than an electric shower) and spend less time in the shower – one minute a day less is equal to a £10 saving a year per person.

Regulate heating & hot water

More than half of all fuel bills is spent on heating and hot water. Installing a room thermostat, programmer and thermostatic radiator valves could save between £80 and £165 a year, and turning down your room thermostat by just one degree can save between £85 and £90 a year.

Whatever the age of your boiler, the right controls will let you:

  • Set your heating and hot water to come on and off when you need them
  • Heat only the areas of your home that need heating
  • Set the temperature for each area of your home

There are now mobile apps, such as Hive, that let you control your heating remotely, meaning you can turn it on and off exactly when you want, wherever you are.

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Switch - and switch off

Switch to LED bulbs and spotlights – now bright enough to replace halogens and with a clear, white light instead of those dim, yellow CFLs.>[?

Turn off lights when you’re not using them – you’ll save around £15 on annual energy bills.

Read our guide to energy-saving lightbulbs

Plug draughts

Draught-proof windows - temporary double-glazing film can be applied to draughty windows in winter with a hairdryer (such as Stormguard, £8.99, Homebase).

Use sausage-dog doorstops to seal gaps under ill-fitting doors (John Lewis has a good selection, or use door draught excluder seal.

A heavy curtain over a draughty doorway will contain heat within a room.

Read our guide to making your home cosier to beat the cold

In the garden

Compost kitchen scraps such as tea leaves, coffee grounds, fruit and vegetable peelings and almost any organic matter (but not cooked food, fish, meat or egg – although these be able to be composted by your local council).

Grow your own salad greens, veggies, and herbs without using toxic pesticides or chemical fertiliser. Instead, purchase organic and earth-friendly garden products from your local garden centre.

Read our guides to growing fruit and vegetables

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.