11 ways you can make your French property more eco-friendly
Own a property in France and want to live more sustainably? Here are 11 tips to go green in your French home
1. Embrace the ‘passive approach’
Architect Nick Adams insists this ‘passive approach’ is essential when looking at being green at home. He says to invest in quality, eco-friendly insulation on the walls such as chanvre, choose double-glazed windows to minimise heat loss and avoid over heating, configure and ventilate your home in such a way that the heat circulates well and use well-fitting shutters.
2. Switch to green energy providers
Choose providers that use renewable or recycled electricity. You can find a full list of green electricity providers here.
3. Get a woodburner
Instead of gas heating, get a woodburner. Some can even double up as a stove and used to boil a kettle!
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4. Buy more efficient appliances
In France, electrical appliances such as washing machines and fridges are graded according to their efficiency from G (the lowest) to A+++ with a colour-coded label.
5. Add a wind turbine or solar panels
If you can afford it, installing an individual wind turbine or solar panels are a great way to offset energy bills as you can produce your own electricity. Bear in mind that you might benefit from tax credits for their installation too.
6. Collect water
Place a cistern in your garden or beneath your gutter to collect rainwater for watering the garden and veg plot in the drier months. At home, have a jug to hand to collect tap water while you wait for the water to heat before a shower, bath or the washing up. You can then use that water to boil a pot of tea or water house plants.
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7. Unplug things when not in use
Did you know that electrical goods consume electricity even on standby? Especially those with a small led light so unplug your TV, DVD player and radio when not in use.
8. Consume less
Turning down the thermostat by only 2°C in winter will make huge savings. If you have air conditioning, turn it up by 2°C in the summer. Install water savers on taps and have a dual flush system on your toilets.
9. Waste less
Don’t buy bottled water, instead get a jug with a filter and fill it with tap water. Start composting your kitchen and garden waste. Don’t use plastic bags, choose reusable cotton bags and glass jars if you can.
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10. Stay local
Buy your fruit and veg as locally as possible in markets and if/when you eat meat, source it from local farmers and butchers.
11. Reuse and recycle
Buy your furniture second hand at the many brocantes, vide-greniers and dépôt-ventes available in France. Most villages have recycling bins, make sure you sort your rubbish accordingly.
Is it easier going green in France?
Rosie Hill owns an eco-friendly gîte in Calvados:
“It’s a difficult question to answer but certainly rural France is often seen to live life at a slower pace. More people spend time drinking a coffee in a café as opposed to rushing round with a coffee to go in a single use cup. Markets are still popular where you can buy local and in season produce and what French village doesn’t have its own bakery supplying delicious bread without any plastic packaging? Many people who buy a house in France can also afford a bit of land meaning a vegetable plot is a real possibility and maybe even some poultry for the freshest and most local of food.”
Cefas Bouman and Wendy Witteveen run an eco retreat in the hills around St-Antonin-Noble-Val in Tarn-et-Garonne:
“We don’t believe this is necessarily true. Anyone can reduce their carbon footprint by little habitual changes. The advantages that France has over the UK is the warmer climate so we spend less on heating, but this can easily be offset if you install air-conditioning. So it doesn’t really matter where you live as long as you make conscious choices and you realize what the consequences are of these choices.
“We moved to France because we wanted to try a more self-sufficient lifestyle, growing our own veggies and raising our own chickens for eggs. Furthermore France is less crowded, the air is cleaner, the weather is much better and there is still nature to be found around us. Having said al this we are also still learning and growing everyday. It’s an ongoing process.”
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