Green fingers: energy saving in the garden
Creating an energy-efficient home isn’t just about thinking about what’s on the inside - it’s also important to consider how you might better control energy use in your garden too.
Get the right garden lights
To save energy on lighting in your garden, turn garden lights off when they’re not in use.
If you need security lighting, buy ones that are controlled by motion sensors or timers, to avoid wasting electricity.
Better still, use solar lighting as much as possible in your garden. As well as being the most environmentally friendly way to light your garden, it’s also cheap, safe and emits a dim glow which is less likely to disrupt wildlife than brighter lights.
Create a windbreak
If your home is exposed to strong winds, then you could be losing warmth and forking out for it with higher energy bills.
But the right landscaping or windbreaks can lower the wind chill near your home and reduce heating costs considerably, according to the US Department of Energy.
A windbreak will typically consist of a hedge, fence, or a single or double row of trees. The Royal Horticultural Society has more information on creating effective windbreaks.
Heat your greenhouse efficiently
Keen gardeners often use a heater in their greenhouse to save the plants from freezing in the coldest months of the year.
But this can be highly inefficient, so it’s worth considering how you could reduce greenhouse energy use.
For a start, you need a good thermostat to maintain the right temperature. But you can also take steps to keep the greenhouse as energy efficient as possible to avoid needing the heater much in the first place - saving money and reducing your impact on the environment.
Tips from the RHS on how to go about this include:
- Choose the right temperature: the lowest practical temperature for plants to survive is 7ºC.
- Seal up any cracks, replace broken glass and ensure vents and doors fit snugly.
- Add a layer of bubble wrap to insulate the greenhouse, but don’t get carried away, as this will reduce the amount of light reaching plants.
- If your greenhouse is large enough, screen off part of it to limit the area to be kept heated.
- Drape fleece over plants in cold snaps; or better still, cover the whole greenhouse at night with blinds.
Use solar-powered water features
The sound of trickling water in a garden can be very soothing.
But if you’re going to invest in a garden water feature, then ensure you buy one that’s powered by the sun. That way you can enjoy it without impacting on the environment - or adding to your energy bills. Just make sure you place yours in direct sunlight and it won’t need any mains electricity.
Be water smart
While you’re on an energy-saving mission, why not implement a few measures to cut back on water use too? You could for example:
- Fit a water butt, to catch and store rainwater to reuse on your garden when needed.
- Spread some mulch on your soil between plants to help keep the moisture in and suppress weeds. As a result, you won’t have to water your plants as often in the summer.
- Swap your hose for a watering can. A hose sprays out a hefty 16 litres of water a minute. Use the watering can to apply water to the base of the plant rather than over a wide area.
- Water your plants in the cool of the early morning or evening when less water is lost to evaporation.
- Avoid watering lawns, as they require huge amounts of water. Instead, it can help to mow less closely and less often, and bear in mind that brown patches usually recover when the autumn rains return.
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