Archive for October, 2009

Eco Fixtures and Eco Fittings for Saving Energy, Heat and Money in Your Eco Home

October 30th, 2009

Turning your house into an eco home isn’t just about the big items, like eco furniture and eco appliances. It’s about the little things too. Here’s a guide to some eco fixtures and eco fittings which can help your eco house to save energy, to save money and to protect the environment all at the same time.

Eco heating fixtures

Radiator insulation panels – These fit snugly behind the radiator and help to conserve heat. They work by reflecting heat from the back of the radiator, which would otherwise be wasted, back into the room. Radiator insulation panels are estimated to provide energy savings of up to 20% on the heat emitted by a radiator, which more than covers the cost of this eco fixture in under a year.

Hot pipe insulation – Insulating hot water pipes is estimated to reduce heat loss by up to 80%. Not bad for a simple piece of foam you can snap onto your hot water pipe in seconds.

Solar power heating – It’s estimated that a solar power heating system can supply eco homes with up to a third of their hot water per year, and up to a 70% reduction in hot water energy bills. Solar power heating systems comprise of solar panels of typically 4-5m² on the roof connected to a heat transfer system and hot water cylinder.

Solar evacuated tubes can be used in replacement of solar panels as an eco fixture on your roof. A row of these cylinders can generate heat even when the sun isn’t shining; they also require less maintenance and last longer than solar panels. The drawback is that they’re generally more expensive.

Eco lighting fixtures

Solar powered security light with motion sensor – When fitted with motion sensors security lights only switch on when they’re needed, rather than waste electricity illuminating the driveway throughout the night. Security lights are now available which are solar powered. These don’t require mains power but instead charge up their rechargeable batteries during the daytime, offering even more savings on your eco home’s energy bills.

Energy saving bulbs – Lighting is estimated to account for 10-15% of our energy bills. With this in mind, it makes economic as well as environmental sense to invest in energy saving light bulbs. A normal bulb uses 60 watts and lasts up to 1000 hrs. An energy saving bulb, on the other hand, uses only 9 watts and lasts up to 10,000 hours. With these figures in mind, it’s no wonder the sale of older incandescent bulbs are now banned in the UK and energy savings bulbs will soon be a common eco fitting in every home.

Eco water fixtures

Water saving taps – Did you know that running a tap for 2 minutes whilst brushing your teeth can use up to 12 litres of water? So it’s no surprise that water saving taps can save literally 1000s of litres of water every month in an average household. Unlike taps you twist, water saving taps are activated by lifting and lowering the nozzle, which means you tend to only use water when needed.

Flush control – When you consider that flushing the toilet uses up to 13 litres of water, it’s no wonder that toilets use around 30% of our household’s water. Thankfully, it’s possible to vastly reduce the amount of water used per flush. Displacement devices can be placed in the toilet’s cistern which sits beneath the float to reduce the amount of water used by up to 3 litres. The saving offered by this eco fitting can amount to saving thousands of litres in the average eco home over the course of a year.

Water saving shower heads – Many people think having a shower uses less water than having a bath. But with the popularity of water intensive power showers, it’s quite often the reverse. However, people can reduce the amount of water their shower uses without compensating on water pressure. Energy saving showerheads reduce the flow of water coming through the shower head, which can provide water consumption savings of up to 60%. Water saving shower heads are a cheap eco fitting everyone can use in their eco house to make huge savings on their water bills every year.

Eco Kitchen Appliances for Cutting Energy Bills in Your Eco Home

October 26th, 2009

The amount of energy we use is fast becoming one of the key considerations when buying household appliances, which applies particularly to the ones we use in the kitchen. This is one of the reasons why eco kitchen appliances are fast becoming a must have kitchen accessory.

In fact, in a recent survey (by fitted kitchen supplier Sigma 3) eco kitchen appliances ranked ahead of TVs and American style fridges as the most sought after kitchen item. And if the shocking headlines that energy bills could increase by 60% in the next ten years come true, this is a trend that’s only going to continue.

Here’s a guide to some of the most popular eco kitchen appliances for cutting your eco home’s energy bills, and to help save the planet at the same time:

Eco washing machine – It’s estimated that if everyone in the UK starting using eco washing machines it would save almost £1 billion and cut 40,000 tonnes of carbon emissions a year. In fact, The Energy Saving Trust (EST) estimates that eco washing machines can save 45 kg of carbon per household and provide 86 extra washes for the same amount of energy as a conventional machine. With these figures in mind, it’s easy to understand why, although they’re more expensive upfront, eco washing machines offer substantial long term savings on your eco home’s energy bills.

Eco dishwasher – Eco dishwashers use only around 12 litres of water per wash, which is less than what you’d probably use to fill your sink. The EST estimates that every eco home equipped with an eco dishwasher would produce 90 kg less carbon emissions per year and have enough energy for 170 extra washes. This makes them a very green and energy efficient eco kitchen appliance.

To maximise your eco house’s energy savings, only use your dishwasher for full loads. Running it for half a load uses the same amount of water and over half the amount of energy as a full one.

Eco cookers – The technology available for cooking food has advanced a lot in recent years, and particularly in the field of energy conservation. Eco cookers are now available that can cook food using electromagnetic waves. These cook the food directly without having to heat up a saucepan or the cooker’s top, reducing the energy consumed by this eco kitchen appliance.

Eco cookers can also be fitted with a triple glazed door to prevent heat loss, and lit with halogen bulbs so that food can be checked without having to open the door and release heat.

Eco fridges – After lighting, fridges and freezers make up the biggest proportion of our energy bills, at around 15%. However, there are now eco fridges available which can help to vastly reduce your bills and don’t produce damaging CFC gases (chlorofluorocarbons). In fact, modern fridges consume only a third of the energy of those used ten years ago.

It’s easy to check the energy savings credentials of eco fridges, and other eco kitchen appliances, as they all must now have an EU energy label. These are graded from G (the worst) up to A++ (the very best). You can also look out for the Energy Saving Trust’s distinctive blue ‘recommended’ label, which is only awarded to the very best environmentally friendly eco kitchen appliances for use in your eco home.

18 Eco Kitchen Energy Saving Tips for Your Eco Home

October 26th, 2009

The kitchen is one of our home’s most energy intensive rooms. If you want to reduce your eco house’s carbon footprint, you need to think about how you use energy in your kitchen and find ways of reducing it. Saving even small amounts of energy each day can amount to big savings on your eco home’s energy bills by the end of the year.

Here are 20 eco kitchen energy saving tips for cutting your energy bills and helping to save the planet at the same time:

  1. Use energy saving eco kitchen appliances, such as an eco dishwasher, eco fridge or eco cooker, which have a blue Energy Saving Trust logo. Although they might cost more upfront, they offer long term savings which will more than cover the initial investment
  2. Only use your washing machine, tumble dryer or dishwasher when it’s full because one full load uses less energy and water than two half loads
  3. Instead of using a tumble dryer, which is a monster at eating up electricity, dry your clothes in your eco house’s garden. This will leave them smelling fresher too
  4. Try and keep your fridge and freezer filled up. Leaving them empty means they use more energy keeping food cool
  5. Defrost your freezer regularly to reduce the amount of energy it needs to keep food cold
  6. Switch off and unplug eco kitchen appliances when they’re not in use. This stops them continuing to sap electricity for powering the standby light. The average home is estimated to waste 25% of its energy on appliances plugged in unnecessarily
  7. When you’re making a cup of tea only boil the water you need. So don’t boil a full kettle when you’re just having a cup
  8. Keep your kettle clean and de-scaled. This will help it to boil more quickly and use less energy
  9. Clean filters in tumble dryers to help them work more efficiently
  10. A dripping tap will waste enough water to fill half a bath every year. So it makes sense to get leaking taps fixed throughout your eco home
  11. Opening the oven door to check your food reduces the oven’s temperature by 25 degrees. This means it will then use more time and energy than it needs to reheat again. So keep the oven window nice and clean, and use a timer so that you only open the door once the food should be cooked
  12. If you’re using an electric oven, turn it off 10 minutes before the food is due to be cooked. The oven’s heat will finish it off without needing any extra power
  13. Modern washing powders are more technologically advanced than ten years ago. They can work at lower temperatures, so try running washes at 30º instead of 40º
  14. Wash fruit and vegetables in a bowl rather than under the tap to save on your eco home’s water bill
  15. Chop vegetables into smaller chunks because this helps them to cook quicker
  16. Defrost food in the fridge instead of heating it up in a pan. This will also provide free cooling for your fridge. Similarly, don’t put warm food in your fridge because this will heat it up
  17. Put the lid on pans when cooking. This will help them heat up quicker and use less energy. In fact, it’s estimated that heating food without a lid uses up an extra 30% of energy.
  18. Putting pans on the right sized hob helps them cook quicker as well

Start implementing some of these eco kitchen energy savings tips in your eco home today and watch your energy bills, and carbon footprint, reduce.

Eco Sofas

October 9th, 2009

Here are a couple of facts for you: felling rainforests is estimated to emit 20% of all climate-crisis gases and the UK is the largest importer of illegal timber in the EU.  If you find these facts shocking you might be wondering what you can do to help combat the illegal timber trade. One way is persuading manufacturers to stop using illegal timber, and choosing to invest in an eco sofa for your eco home is a good place to start.

Eco sofas are just as attractive, durable and comfortable as conventional sofas, but are far less damaging to the planet in how they’re built.

When shopping for an eco sofa for your eco house there are a variety of characteristics you should check to ensure they’re ecologically constructed, and not contributing to the illegal timber trade:

Made from FSC certified timber – Eco sofas should be made from hardwood timber that has been ecologically sourced. This means it has been cut from a sustainably managed forest and will be marked as FSC (Forestry Stewardship Council) certified.

Constructed with water based adhesives, paints and stains – Most glues and varnishes used to assemble and decorate sofas contain chemicals that emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air. Water based glues, however, are far healthier for both the planet and your family’s health. They contain a low amount of VOCs or none at all, which means they’re less damaging to breathe and don’t pollute the air in your eco home. Water based adhesives are also biodegradable, and can be easily disposed of without contaminating the ground.

Upholstery made from eco textiles – Conventional sofa upholstery is usually made from synthetic materials, such as nylon or polyester. These are derived from petroleum and are very polluting to manufacture. Eco textiles, on the other hand, are made from natural plant fibres which can be sustainably harvested and are less polluting to convert into cloth. Popular eco-textiles are hemp, organic cotton, silk and wool, and are much greener textiles for upholstering your eco sofa.

Cushions made from natural materials – Natural latex is made from rubber trees and is a greener, more ecologically sound alternative to polyurethane foam, which is made from petroleum. An eco sofa’s cushions should also be stuffed with a natural material, such as soybean oil, to reinforce its green credentials.

So when purchasing an eco sofa, and doing your bit to combat the illegal timber trade, make sure it ticks most of the boxes above.

You should also consider how you can best dispose of your old sofa. Rather than dump it in a landfill site, consider offloading it on eBay, donating it to a charity or giving it to an eco furniture shop. Many eco furniture manufacturers will refurbish old sofas so they can still get plenty of use in someone else’s eco home.

Eco Storage

October 1st, 2009

Investing in eco furniture for your eco home is a great way of working towards living a more sustainable lifestyle. There are many ways in which eco products help in looking after the planet, and this applies particularly well to eco storage because it’s such a wide category.

Eco storage furniture

Whether storing toys, books or important documents, there’s a wide range of eco storage products you can use in your eco house.

Eco storage furniture, such as bookcases and cabinets, are made from sustainable materials which can be ecologically sourced. The most obvious example is wood. There are many different types of wood which can be used to make eco storage furniture, including hardwood, plywood and birch. To be classified as an eco product the wood must be sourced from a sustainably managed forest, and should be labelled FSC (Forestry Stewardship Council) certified.

Other sustainable materials that can be used for making eco storage furniture include bamboo (which regenerates far more rapidly than wood), polypropylene plastic (a recycled plastic) and cork (stripped from tree bark).

Eco storage for your eco home’s office

There are plenty of eco storage options to choose from for filing away documents and other office stationery. Along with recycled paper for writing or printing on, most stationery shops will sell lever arch folders and archive boxes made from recycled cardboard.

Choosing to buy recycled boxes and folders as eco storage is a great way everyone can help encourage a more sustainable way of living and make use of materials that would otherwise be dumped in landfill sites.

Eco storage for your food

A lot of household waste comes from the kitchen; however, eco storage containers can be used to help reduce it.

Instead of throwing away uneaten food you could preserve it in the fridge. This can sometimes mean generating a new type of waste altogether, in the form of cling film, tin foil and plastic bags. However, there are eco friendly plastic containers available (including types made from polypropylene) which can be used to reduce both the amount of food and wrapping materials you throw away from your eco home.

The way you transport food can also be made more eco friendly. In recent years many supermarket chains have been encouraging customers to use reusable canvas bags (often made from eco textiles) instead of plastic bags for carrying groceries. Plastic bags are very energy intensive to manufacture and many don’t get recycled. So using a reusable bag for carrying your groceries to your eco house is another way of using eco storage to care for the planet.