A guide to greener appliances: How to make your home more eco-friendly

Thanks to a number of campaigns and awareness strategies over the years, the world is far more environmentally-conscious than ever before. There’s no escaping the images of our oceans stuffed with plastic waste, or the plummeting air quality in our major cities. Naturally, no one wants to live in such conditions, and so, we’re seeing a rise of movements against issues like pollution and single-use plastics.

But while you might be recycling your cans and plastics, and you may be hopping on public transport instead of using the car so much, have you taken a look at your home appliances recently? Working away in the background, these often-overlooked items could be a little less environmentally-friendly than you might like them to be.

You don’t need to replace them all immediately. Let’s be realistic, a new fridge, freezer, oven, or other household appliance can quickly become an expensive venture! But there are measures you can take to make your old appliances that little bit greener.

Switch it off when you’re switching off

It’s a bad habit that we’ve all done at some point — leaving the TV on stand-by all night. Charging our phones overnight when they really don’t need that long. Games consoles left to hum away in the dark. If you’re looking to lower your bills and your carbon footprint, switch them off completely before you go to bed. According to Energy Saving Trust, the average UK home spends £30 every year just on appliances left on standby. Spending £30 for something you’re not using isn’t good, and worse, it’s not good for the environment.

Most of us go around the house to check the doors and windows are locked before heading to bed, so it’s easy to add a little look for standby lights into that routine.

Will you feel a few degrees?

Head over to your thermostat and check what temperature it is at. While your boiler should be ideally replaced every 15 years, your old boiler can still do a better job of being eco-friendly if you turn the thermostat down a few degrees and turn it off at night. You’ll sleep better if your body can cool down anyway, and a few degrees less during the day won’t make you uncomfortable. Consider popping another layer on next time you reach to turn up the thermostat, as usually this is enough to warm you up!

A good clean goes a long way

You fridge doesn’t need replacing frequently, as a good unit will last 10 to 20 years or so. But if your fridge is coming up for replacement, an eco-friendly model is definitely the way to go. For now, let’s focus on your current fridge. When was the last time you cleaned the coils? According to Architectural Digest, cleaning the coils of your fridge can encourage better energy use.

Not sure where to look? Your fridge’s coils are usually located on the bottom, the top, or the back of your appliance. Turn your fridge off before you start and remove the base grill if the coils are on the top or bottom or pull your fridge carefully out so you can see the coils at the back.

Take a refrigerator coil brush and sweep any much out from the coils. Take the opportunity to sweep the floor too! Then, pop everything back in place. Be sure to wear gloves and be careful when moving your fridge — if it’s too heavy, ask for help moving it.

Keeping your filters happy

With the fridge sorted, we’re heading to the tumble dryer next. The filters are meant to be cleaned after every use, but everyone has forgotten once or twice…

The first step is to clean any lint from the filter, then pour a small amount of water on the filter to see if it can get through. If it doesn’t and pools on top of the filter, your filter needs a thorough cleaning. Give it a good scrubbing in soapy, warm water, then rinse it off and try pouring a little water through again. If it still pools a little, repeat your soap-water attack on the filter!

Cool off on your laundry

The easiest way to make your washing machine greener is to simply turn the temperature down on the wash cycle. Opt to wash your clothes on a cold wash setting for the following benefits beyond saving the planet:

  • Protect colour vibrancy
  • Better stain removal (warm water actually keeps the stain in!)
  • Money saving
  • Protect elastics

Making your dishwasher planet-friendly

Like your washing machine, making your dishwasher greener is pretty simple. One good habit to get into is to only set your dishwasher going once it has a full load. Also, be sure to have your full load placed efficiently in the dishwasher to fit in as much as possible without compromising on cleaning. Tree Hugger advises that, if your model has the option to, turn off its drying cycle and just let your dishes air dry. You can open the door at the end and leave them overnight to dry off.

Greener air

For many, an air conditioning unit really does make a difference between comfort and discomfort. But, like any other appliance, it needs a little TLC every now and again to keep it working effectively and prevent any overuse of energy. Greener Ideal recommends getting a professional out to inspect your air-conditioning unit to make sure it is still running efficiently and effectively. If your system is making any strange noises, best to give a professional a call.

As you can see, older appliances can certainly be made a little greener with a bit of a clean and a few switches here and there. Take these tips on board and your home and workspace can be its greenest. When the time does come to replace your older appliances, be sure to keep in mind whether or not it is energy efficient.

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