Green home solution ideas from IKEA’s sustainability expert Joanna Yarrow

October 15, 2013 at 9:00 AM Leave a comment

Have you ever wondered how to make your home more sustainable? The need to reduce energy bills, lower food costs and keep a lid on the amount of waste produced means it is an issue that households can no longer afford to ignore. Here, sustainability expert Joanna Yarrow – who is the sustainability manager for IKEA – provides her top tips for making your home a brighter shade of green.

1. Lighting accounts for around 20 per cent of energy in the home, and so you can trim your energy bills by making the most of natural daylight by decorating rooms in light colours and keeping curtains pulled back. When you need lights switch to LED bulbs. They consume 85 per cent less energy than traditional incandescent lighting and last 20 times longer (up to 20 years per bulb), contain no mercury and can be fully recycled.

2. The average UK household wastes around £680 worth of food each year, throwing away one bag of groceries in every three bought. To make the most of the food you buy, invest in food containers that keep opened food and leftovers in good condition. All IKEA containers can be used in the fridge, freezer and microwave. The smaller ones have a vent in the lid that makes heating in the microwave more efficient and the larger containers have a removable grid that helps keep vegetables stored in the container fresher for longer.

3. Cut your cooking’s energy use by 40 per cent by changing your hob. IKEA induction hobs use magnetic field technology to heat just the pan, not the rest of the hob or surrounding air. This reduces cooking time by up to 60 per cent. If you cook once a day this could save you 73 hours each year (compared to cooking on a standard ceramic hob) – just think what you could do with all that time!

4. Domestic water use accounts for 10 per cent of overall freshwater consumption. IKEA taps use a pressure compensating aerator, which adds air to the flow, reducing water use without affecting pressure. This can reduce consumption by up to 40 per cent, saving you money on heating water – even more if your water is metered.

5. Don’t let the heat escape. Since many homes lose heat through the floors, area rugs are the unsung heroes of low-cost, quick-fix energy solutions. You can also save energy and regulate indoor temperatures by using textiles to insulate your window and door openings. Curtains block the hot sun in summer and help keep the heat inside during winter.

6. Wash your clothes at the lowest possible temperature to trim your bills (and help your clothes last longer). If every household in Britain washed at 30 degrees, we’d save enough energy to power 500,000 homes each year. Your tumble dryer probably uses more energy than any other appliance in your home, so hang clothes out to dry whenever you can.

7. Reduce the amount of waste you produce by buying non-perishables in bulk, and look for containers that can be reused. When a container is no longer useful do your best to recycle it to save resources and energy (recycling just one glass bottle saves enough energy to power a computer for 30 minutes). To make life easy, equip your kitchen with a set of bins that matches what your local council collects.

8. Save money and generate your own green power by installing solar panels on your roof. Lots of people are put off by the price and worries about installation and maintenance. But they can be bought with the a zero deposit loan paid back through money saved on your bills. Solar panels should cut an average UK household’s energy bills by up to 50 per cent – a saving of more than £700 each year.

9. Keep yourself motivated by measuring your progress. IKEA research has found that people change their behaviour when they can see the difference it makes. Try using a smart meter such as The Owl to see real-time how much you’re saving by turning down the heating or switching off a light.

10. Finally, tell people what you are doing and encourage them to do the same. We all feel more motivated when we know we’re part of a movement, and by sharing ideas and tips you may come up with some clever ways of living a greener life that you wouldn’t have thought of on your own.

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