Green Homes

In your home, there are many small changes that you can make, to make a difference. It's the ideal place to put greener theories into practice. A green home minimises health risks and conserves energy. While bringing the concept of sustainable living into your home, you are educating your children, neighbours and friends. Irish householders are responsible for a quarter of Ireland’s CO2 emissions.

Here are a few tips and hints to start you off:

  1. Replace regular light bulbs with Light Emitting Diode (LED) bulbs. LED's use up to 75% less energy than a regular bulb. Just remember to recycle light bulbs responsibly as they contain trace amounts of mercury, which could pose a problem in landfills when mercury from multiple bulbs leaches into the ground.
  2. Purchase energy-efficient electrical appliances. There can be major differences in energy efficiency between different appliance models. Small reductions in the amount of energy consumed by an appliance on a daily basis can add up to significant reductions in electricity bills over the lifetime of a product. Energy efficient appliances use less energy and therefore produce less carbon emissions. The way in which you use appliances can also make a big difference. More information on energy efficient appliances can be found here.
  3. Avoid plastic bags by bringing your own reusable bags shopping. Because petroleum-based plastic isn't biodegradable, it has a long life span. Each year, tens of thousands of marine animals, choke to death on plastic waste they mistake for food.
  4. Reduce, reuse, and recycle - and in that order. First, it's better to reduce your personal consumption than it is to reuse something, and it's less. environmentally damaging to reuse a product than to recycle it. Separating recyclables from your regular waste is important; recycling aluminium, for instance, takes as little as 5 percent of the energy we'd need to manufacture new aluminium.
  5. Opt for clean, renewable energy. Low-impact sources such as wind, solar, and hydroelectric power reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, a major source of greenhouse gas emissions.
  6. Switch off or plug out household appliances when not in use. Electrical appliances in standby mode unnecessarily waste about 10% of electrical energy in the average home.
  7. For home furniture, choose products made from eco-friendly sources such as sustainably managed forests, bamboo, and reclaimed wood.
  8. Clean green - try using homemade cleaners rather than chemical cleaners. Adding hot water to vinegar produces a liquid that can be used as an effective cleaning agent. Avoid air fresheners as they release chemicals that can aggravate asthma. Instead, boil your favourite herbs to create a natural scent in your home. 
  9. Seal the windows and doors - nearly 50% of the average home's energy consumption goes on heating and much of the building′s heat loss is through its windows. Sealing windows is the preferred option but just hanging curtains (the heavier the better) helps. 
  10. Insulate your attic and hot water tank (with a lagging jacket for €10-€15).
  11. Three easy steps to composting - 1. Find a container. 2. Pick a patch of earth - as effective composting requires regular movement of materials to help them decompose evenly. 3. Fill your compost container - your compost pile should contain organic plant material such as vegetable scraps and eggshells.

A good next step is the website for the green homes environmental programme, which is developed by An Taisce’s Environmental Education Unit in partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under their National Waste Prevention programme. There, you can fill out surveys to see how green your home is and monitor your progress over time, get helpful hints and devise action plans.

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