Ten ways to be greener

Solar panels, used to power lighting, on the roof of Brancaster Millennium Activity Centre, Norfolk

Why not try something different this year and take up one of these green pledges?

Here are ten simple and fun things you can do at home to save energy, water and waste – for the good of your pocket and the planet.

1. Give energy saving the green light

Switching your light bulbs is an easy way to save energy and lower bills. LED bulbs can now provide the same quality and tone of light as traditional bulbs, and are much more energy efficient. Although they cost more, LEDs will mean long term savings and good news for the environment. We’ve made the switch at Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire to make our energy-saving efforts there even more effective.

2. Get crafty with natural and recycled materials

Put that mountain of old wrapping paper to creative use! There are plenty of homemade gifts and decorations you can make to be greener and bring life to your home and garden. Why not make your own draught excluder or paper chains for parties? Or how about a homemade pair of thermal curtains? Take a look at our growing list of 'how to' guides for more ideas.

3. Take action and switch off

The first step to reducing energy bills is cutting down on the amount of energy we use. Did you know that turning the thermostat down by just one degree can save up to 10 per cent on your bill? Other simple changes you can make include switching off lights when you’re not in a room, turning off appliances instead leaving them on standby, boiling just the right amount of water in the kettle and hanging out washing instead of using the drier.

At the National Trust, one of our big 2020 energy aims is to reduce the amount of energy we use by 20 per cent. Small changes like these across our tearooms, cottages, mansions and castles are already helping us to achieve our goal.

4. Switch to a renewable electricity supplier

If you’re keen to end your dependence on fossil fuels and make a positive change, then why not switch your energy supply to a green tariff? It only takes around five minutes of your time. 

5. Invest in a wood burner

Burning wood fuel not only makes your home a cosier place to live, it’s also a great way to be greener. Options range from small systems such as wood burning stoves to larger systems such as a wood fuelled boiler. Wood pellets, chip or logs tend to be much cheaper than oil or gas, so you’ll be saving money as well as lowering your dependence on fossil fuels.

We’ve installed biomass boilers at a number of our places including Dyrham Park, where wood fuel is helping to conserve our collections as well as keep the buildings warm.

6. Buy local and seasonal food

Eating local and seasonal food makes sense for our environment, economy and our taste buds. By buying from local farmers markets and picking food that is in season, we can support British producers and cut down on long-distance travel that affects the taste and nutritional content of food. When a crop is in season, it’s often cheaper too because there’s so much of it. Everyone’s a winner!

7. Love your home and make it fit for the future

Once you’ve made the little changes, you might want to find out about ways to protect your home for the future. These might include installing things like insulation or secondary glazing. The best course of action largely depends on the age of your house. Take a look at the advice leaflet we’ve put together with the Centre for Sustainable Energy to find out about how older and modern homes behave differently.

Love your home: Energy advice to help protect your own special place (PDF / 0.4326171875MB) download

Hydro intake weir at Hafod y Llan farm, Snowdonia
Hydro intake weir at Hafod y Llan farm, Snowdonia
Hydro intake weir at Hafod y Llan farm, Snowdonia

8. Learn more about renewable energy

Ever wondered how solar panels worked; how turbines turn wind into electricity or how a marine heat pump warms a building?

Many of the places we look after now have renewable energy schemes in place and we’d be happy for you to visit and take a look. For starters, we’ve got biomass at Tyntesfield and Croft Castle, solar panels and a marine source heat pump at Plas Newydd and hydro at Hafod y Llan farm, Morden Hall Park and Cragside.

9. Grow your own energy using sunshine

Installing renewables at home is a great way to save on energy bills and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. Solar PV is one of the most popular options, with nearly half a million UK homes already collecting clean, green energy from the sun. Feed in Tariffs (FIT) mean you could be paid for each unit of electricity you generate, whether you use it yourself or sell it back to the grid. We’ve installed solar at plenty of our places for a clean, green way to keep the lights on and the cups of tea flowing.

10. Follow a green champion on social media

If you want to learn more about green living and get the latest news on climate change, why not start following a green champion on Twitter or Facebook? One of our champions is Keith Jones who runs the Going Green blog. You can follow him on Twitter @walesepa