DIY and GardeningSaving energy in the home is much more than switching lights off and unplugging appliances. There are more unusual and less obvious ways that you can reduce your household’s carbon footprint: in the garden and when making home improvements. These can be equally as effective and further help to combat climate change.

Select Natural Materials

If you use natural materials when doing home improvements you can lower your impact on the environment and at the same time, minimise your family’s exposure to hazardous or toxic substances.

Where possible, try to avoid solvent-based finishes, paints, adhesives, carpeting, particleboard, MDF and many other building products that release toxins into the air. Breathing in these chemicals can be potentially dangerous to humans and isn’t good for the atmosphere either. Plus, there’s nearly always a greener, more natural alternative.

Use Recycled Products

Not only are recycled products good for the environment, they can also make highly original additions to your home. Instead of buying wood from a DIY store, try to see if you can find salvaged or reclaimed timber – it’s cheaper and will have an original and natural finish. For other items, head down to your local salvage yard, where you can pick up goods for a low price or free of charge.

DIY the Green Way

If you’re looking to enhance your property, or add value to it, there are many environmental ways in which to do this and lots of green benefits.

Firstly, installing cavity wall or roof insulation is a great way of cutting your energy bills by stopping heat from escaping your home. Insulating your walls will cost around £260 for an average sized home, but with an annual energy bill reduction of £130-160, the investment will pay for itself after two years.

Another DIY job with a green alternative is when installing windows. If you are getting new windows, opt for the much healthier wood frames rather than PVC ones. These are high in toxins and difficult to dispose of. You should also use low-emissive glass which helps to reflect heat into your room, stopping it from escaping.

Alternatively, if you’re really handy, look into installing a wind turbine or <#66#>solar panels<#> to start harnessing your own natural and renewable energy.

Recycle Leftovers

Once you’ve finished making over your home, don’t simply throw leftover materials away. Why not see if the neighbours might like any of your materials for some home improvements of their own?

Contact your local council to see if they have recycling facilities available in your local area to recycle your extra wood, paint or wallpaper. You should always be careful when disposing of materials that contain toxic or hazardous substances to minimise their impact on the environment.

In the Garden

There are plenty of ways to enjoy a healthy and flourishing garden without wasting precious water supplies and running up big water bills. You should harness natural rainwater as well as reusing water from the home on your grass, flowers and plants. Invest in a water butt. This collects and stores rainwater and allows you to tap into a free and natural supply when rainy weather is scarce. Even better, it’s free of charge!

You can also use grey water – water that’s already been used – to water plants as well. Instead of pouring dishwater down the sink after you’ve finished washing up, use it in the garden instead. Just make sure it doesn’t contain damaging chemicals and is allowed to cool first.

Get Composting

A third of the rubbish you throw in the bin can actually be composted, and it’s very simple to start your own composting bin off. You can compost your garden waste, vegetable and fruit peelings, ripped up cardboard and newspapers, and even old teabags. After a few months, your garden will benefit from nutrient soil.