The Cutting Edge: Supporting your Home’s Future, with Sustainability in Mind, by journalist, Jo Linehan
Sustainability has become a buzzword over the last few years, but what does it really mean when it comes to our homes? For me, it means creating spaces that are kind to our pocket, our peace of mind and the planet. Being more sustainable at home doesn’t have to cost the earth – these are my top tips for lowering your home’s impact and upping its eco-credentials.
Let there be (LED) light
Adopting LED light bulbs is one of the quickest and most effective swaps we can make in our homes right now to save energy and lower waste. Using approximately 75 per cent less energy than traditional bulbs and boasting a longer lifespan, you could save about €7 a year for every light bulb you change. Talk about light bulb moments.
Keep it cool
An estimated 90 per cent of a washing machine’s energy is used to heat its water. Cooler washes are better for energy costs, and they’re also kinder to our wardrobes, as hot water can break down fibres and damage our clothing.
Want to save up to 20 per cent more off your electricity bill? Unplug appliances that aren’t in use. While it may not seem like a TV or console uses energy while idle, it’s silently adding to your energy costs.
Finally, ensure your fridge temperature is between 3 and 5 °C and your freezer to -18 °C to minimise energy use. If you really want to pack an energy-saving punch, slow cookers and air fryers are great for cooking with less energy than traditional ovens.
Bring on the BER
Do you know your home’s energy rating? If you don’t, you’re not alone. Many of us have never considered a home audit, but there’s never been a better time to find out your home’s BER rating and how to improve it. The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) has a selection of grants and green loans to take your home from the damp and energy-intensive draft to cosy and secure. Find out what retrofitting options are available and affordable at Seai.ie.
Food and water waste are two major areas we have the power to impact positively in our day-to-day lives.
Irish households throw away an estimated €700 of food each year, which is staggering. Planning meals and using what’s already in your fridge and freezer before the next food shop could help you save money, time and space in the wheelie bin.
As for water, we know 70 per cent of the earth’s surface is covered in blue, but just 1 per cent is considered usable. As our planet warms, water becomes more scarce, which is a big problem even for us as an island nation. Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth, and reduce your time in the shower by even a minute to save water. I like to keep pasta water for my plants – they adore it!
Go low (impact)
So many interior brands are beginning to change their offering, giving us many more low-impact home furnishing options.
Swap paraben candles for soy wax, which means cleaner air in your home when burned. Shop pre-loved and second-hand wherever you can, and if you are buying new, look for low-impact pieces; the DFS Grand Designs sofa range is made from recycled materials, which is so exciting.
As for bedding, swap synthetic materials like polyester (which is plastic) for natural fabrics like linen that are long-lasting, breathable and won’t contribute to plastic pollution.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, but by implementing even a few of these ideas, you can contribute positively to the planet and your home’s sustainable future. See you for lots more ideas and tips at the show!
You can catch Jo Linehan in discussion with a variety of guest speakers and industry professionals April 21st to 23rd at the DFS Interiors Theatre in the permanent tsb Ideal Home Show, at the RDS Simmonscourt, Dublin.
Born in Cork, Jo began her career in journalism as a Junior Editor at IMAGE Magazine in 2011. In 2016, she co-founded GAFF Interiors, Ireland’s premier online publication, for affordable interior inspiration and advice.
After working with some of the country’s leading fashion, home and lifestyle brands, Jo recognised the incredible waste and disparity the consumer industry perpetuated. Since 2019, Jo has worked extensively to support sustainable brands and initiatives, returning to gain her MSc in Management for Sustainable Development at Dublin City University and launching her independent podcast series, Futurist.
She runs GAFF Shop, a circular economy platform where like-minded interior lovers can buy and sell pre-loved home pieces.
Today, she writes about sustainability for The Sunday Times, Irish Country Magazine and contributes to The Irish Times and Sunday Business Post.