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10 Ways to Make your Home Eco-Friendly

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It is good news that many people across the world are becoming more environmentally-conscious. Being more eco-friendly will not only help you contribute to a sustainable environment but it can even save you money. Here are ten ways to improve the mechanical and electrical engineering of your home, and make it a more eco-friendly place.

Get serious about water

When we consider the word ‘sustainability’ we often consider that it only relates to energy consumption. But being truly eco-friendly means taking a holistic approach, so you’ll need to get serious about saving water. Firstly, take the time to fix any leaks. Even if there are no leaks there are plenty of lifestyle changes you can make to save water. For example, you should ensure that you don’t run the tap when you brush your teeth or shave. It’s also a good idea to install a low-flow showerhead – these have been shown to save up to 160,000 litres of water for a family of four.

Install a smart meter

Your heating is one of the biggest ways that you use energy. And it can be very easy, especially during the winter months, to leave your heating on for longer than you strictly need it. This can lead to a lot of both wasted energy and wasted money. The best way to combat this is to have a smart meter installed. Smart meters can be programmed so that they only turn on at certain times of the day – for example, beginning to heat up just before you get home, and shutting off an hour or so before you leave the house. Smart meters can are a must for anyone looking to reduce their carbon footprint and decrease their energy bills.

Energy efficient light bulbs

Energy efficient light bulbs have been around for a long time, but it really has taken a significant amount of time for many people to come around to the idea. Ultimately, though, it really makes a lot of sense to make the switch. Not only do energy efficient bulbs use less electricity, they also last longer, which means you don’t have to spend money replacing them.

Install solar panels

Solar panels are an essential feature for any eco home. Providing you with completely clean electricity they can sometimes even make enough energy to allow you to sell some back to the grid. Solar panels are certainly a long-term investment and it has been suggested that it will take around 20 years for you to break even depending on where you live. But remember this is not just a monetary investment – it’s an opportunity to be eco-friendly.

Talk to sustainability consultants

Every home is different and there’s usually a great deal that a homeowner can do to improve the green credentials of their property. One of the best ways to do this is to speak to sustainability consultants, who will be able to provide you with analysis and ideas for how best to make changes to your home.

Embrace natural cleaning products

Using harmful chemicals to clean is very bad for the environment. When you wash them away you are simply putting them into the water supply. That means water will take more purification before it is safe to use again. But the good news is that in the majority of cases you really don’t need to use them. For most day-to-day cleaning tasks, natural products like vinegar, citric acid from citrus fruits and bicarbonate of soda can be used in place of caustic chemicals to great effect.

Insulate

One of the smartest ways to improve your home’s eco-friendliness is to ensure that you use as little energy as possible. Investing in insulation is a great way to do this. Good insulation helps hold in the heat, meaning you don’t need to burn energy reheating the home all of the time. There are plenty of places that can and should be insulated including within the walls and in the roof. It can also be smart to consider double glazing any windows that don’t already have it.

Create your own compost

Don’t waste your kitchen scraps and leftover food – turn them into compost. You would be surprised how much of the food that you currently throw away can be recycled and turned into compost. Simply place a compost bin in your garden and fill it with any food waste.

Buy recycled

It’s a good idea to try to buy recycled products whenever you can. This can include everything from toilet tissue to kitchen roll. Whenever you notice that there is a recycled option available to buy, it’s worth purchasing it.

Cook intelligently

It’s easy to be smarter in the kitchen, which can lead to a far more eco-friendly home. One important example is that you can lose a huge amount of heat if you open an oven door during cooking. Even if the oven is only open for a short time it will then need to use a significant amount of energy heating back up.

Energy

Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis

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Shutterstock / By Sergey Nivens | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/nivens

Retiring baby-boomers are facing a retirement cliff, at the same time as mother nature unleashes her fury with devastating storms tied to the impact of global warming. There could be a unique solution to the challenges associated with climate change – investments in clean energy from retirement funds.

Financial savings play a very important role in everyone’s life and one must start planning for it as soon as possible. It’s shocking how quickly seniors can burn through their nest egg – leaving many wondering, “How long your retirement savings will last?

Let’s take a closer look at how seniors can take baby steps on the path to retiring with dignity, while helping to clean up our environment.

Tip #1: Focus & Determination

Like in other work, it is very important to focus and be determined. If retirement is around the corner, then make sure to start putting some money away for retirement. No one can ever achieve anything without dedication and focus – whether it’s saving the planet, or saving for retirement.

Tip #2: Minimize Spending

One of the most important things that you need to do is to minimize your expenditures. Reducing consumption is good for the planet too!

Tip #3: Visualize Your Goal

You can achieve more if you have a clearly defined goal in life. This about how your money can be used to better the planet – imagine cleaner air, water and a healthier environment to leave to your grandchildren.

Investing in Clean Energy

One of the hottest and most popular industries for investment today is the energy market – the trading of energy commodities. Clean energy commodities are traded alongside dirty energy supplies. You might be surprised to learn that clean energy is becoming much more competitive.

With green biz becoming more popular, it is quickly becoming a powerful tool for diversified retirement investing.

The Future of Green Biz

As far as the future is concerned, energy businesses are going to continue getting bigger and better. There are many leading energy companies in the market that already have very high stock prices, yet people are continuing to investing in them.

Green initiatives are impacting every industry. Go Green campaigns are a PR staple of every modern brand. For the energy-sector in the US, solar energy investments are considered to be the most accessible form of clean energy investment. Though investing in any energy business comes with some risks, the demand for energy isn’t going anywhere.

In conclusion, if you want to start saving for your retirement, then clean energy stocks and commodity trading are some of the best options for wallets and the planet. Investing in clean energy products, like solar power, is a more long-term investment. It’s quite stable and comes with a significant profit margin. And it’s amazing for the planet!

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Energy

What Should We Make of The Clean Growth Strategy?

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Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By sdecoret | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/sdecoret

It was hardly surprising the Clean Growth Strategy (CGS) was much anticipated by industry and environmentalists. After all, its publication was pushed back a couple of times. But with the document now in the public domain, and the Government having run a consultation on its content, what ultimately should we make of what’s perhaps one of the most important publications to come out of the Department for Business, Energy and the Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in the past 12 months?

The starting point, inevitably, is to decide what the document is and isn’t. It is, certainly, a lengthy and considered direction-setter – not just for the Government, but for business and industry, and indeed for consumers. While much of the content was favourably received in terms of highlighting ways to ensure clean growth, critics – not unjustifiably – suggested it was long on pages but short on detailed and finite policy commitments, accompanied by clear timeframes for action.

A Strategy, Instead of a Plan

But should we really be surprised? The answer, in all honesty, is probably not really. BEIS ministers had made no secret of the fact they would be publishing a ‘strategy’ as opposed to a ‘plan,’ and that gave every indication the CGS would set a direction of travel and be largely aspirational. The Government had consulted on its content, and will likely respond to the consultation during the course of 2018. And that’s when we might see more defined policy commitments and timeframes from action.

The second criticism one might level at the CGS is that indicated the use of ‘flexibilities’ to achieve targets set in the carbon budgets – essentially using past results to offset more recent failings to keep pace with emissions targets. Claire Perry has since appeared in front of the BEIS Select Committee and insisted she would be personally disappointed if the UK used flexibilities to fill the shortfall in meeting the fourth and fifth carbon budgets, but this is difficult ground for the Government. The Committee on Climate Change was critical of the proposed use of efficiencies, which would somewhat undermine ministers’ good intentions and commitment to clean growth – particularly set against November’s Budget, in which the Chancellor maintained the current carbon price floor (potentially giving a reprieve to coal) and introduced tax changes favourable to North Sea oil producers.

A 12 Month Green Energy Initiative with Real Teeth

But, there is much to appreciate and commend about the CGS. It fits into a 12-month narrative for BEIS ministers, in which they have clearly shown a commitment to clean growth, improving energy efficiency and cutting carbon emissions. Those 12 months have seen the launch of the Industrial Strategy – firstly in Green Paper form, which led to the launch of the Faraday Challenge, and then a White Paper in which clean growth was considered a ‘grand challenge’ for government. Throughout these publications – and indeed again with the CGS – the Government has shown itself to be an advocate of smart systems and demand response, including the development of battery technology.

Electrical Storage Development at Center of Broader Green Energy Push

While the Faraday Challenge is primarily focused on the development of batteries to support the proliferation of electric vehicles (which will support cuts to carbon emissions), it will also drive down technology costs, supporting the deployment of small and utility-scale storage that will fully harness the capability of renewables. Solar and wind made record contributions to UK electricity generation in 2017, and the development of storage capacity will help both reduce consumer costs and support decarbonisation.

The other thing the CGS showed us it that the Government is happy to be a disrupter in the energy market. The headline from the publication was the plans for legislation to empower Ofgem to cap the costs of Standard Variable Tariffs. This had been an aspiration of ministers for months, and there’s little doubt that driving down costs for consumers will be a trend within BEIS policy throughout 2018.

But the Government also seems happy to support disruption in the renewables market, as evidenced by the commitment (in the CGS) to more than half a billion pounds of investment in Pot 2 of Contracts for Difference (CfDs) – where the focus will be on emerging rather than established technologies.

This inevitably prompted ire from some within the industry, particularly proponents of solar, which is making an increasing contribution to the UK’s energy mix. But, again, we shouldn’t really be surprised. Since the subsidy cuts of 2015, ministers have given no indication or cause to think there will be public money afforded to solar development. Including solar within the CfD auction would have been a seismic shift in policy. And while ministers’ insistence in subsidy-free solar as the way forward has been shown to be based on a single project, we should expect that as costs continue to be driven down and solar makes record contributions to electricity generation, investment will follow – and there will ultimately be more subsidy-free solar farms, albeit perhaps not in 2018.

Meanwhile, by promoting emerging technologies like remote island wind, the Government appears to be favouring diversification and that it has a range of resources available to meet consumer demand. Perhaps more prescient than the decision to exclude established renewables from the CfD auction is the subsequent confirmation in the budget that Pot 2 of CfDs will be the last commitment of public money to renewable energy before 2025.

In short, we should view the CGS as a step in the right direction, albeit one the Government should be elaborating on in its consultation response. Its publication, coupled with the advancement this year of the Industrial Strategy indicates ministers are committed to the clean growth agenda. The question is now how the aspirations set out in the CGS – including the development of demand response capacity for the grid, and improving the energy efficiency of commercial and residential premises – will be realised.

It’s a step in the right direction. But, inevitably, there’s much more work to do.

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