Whether you are looking to reduce your energy bills or worried about climate change, there are many reasons to make your home more eco-friendly.
But with so many sustainable gadgets and systems now on the market, knowing where to start can be a bit daunting.
Taking a test drive of an eco-home could be one way of getting to know what features are right for you.By combining research on ground source heat pumps, solar panels or rainwater harvesting systems with a holiday, you’re getting the best of both worlds.
To help you decide the best ways to adapt your home, we’ve pulled together some of the best eco-friendly getaways in Europe.
5. Try out eco-gadgets at Sunnybrook, Devon, UK
If you want to try out some eco-gadgets in glorious natural surroundings, look no further than Sunnybrook. This eco-house is just five minutes from Holcombe beach in Devon, UK.
Here you can test underfloor heating and have a look at the building’s heat recovery ventilation - a system that reduces the need for heating and cooling in your home.
There’s also a wood-fired Swedish hot tub so you can relax at the end of the day.
The whole house is carbon neutral, meaning your trip won’t cost the earth either.
4. Secluded bungalow, Galway, Ireland
If planet friendly interiors are something you’re considering, Teach Greine, an eco-friendly dormer bungalow in Galway is the perfect holiday home for you. Decorated with organic paints and natural oils, its rooms are heated by solar power and a heat recovery system.
There’s natural and sustainable bamboo flooring here too and the bungalow is surrounded by wildflowers - great for attracting native insects and pollinators. All the plants here are grown organically, so it’s also a great example of sustainable gardening methods.
And at just £55 (€66) per night, it won’t put a strain on your wallet either.
3. Experience an eco-friendly farm at Oasy Hotel, Tuscany, Italy
If you want to find out what it might be like to run your own eco-friendly farm, why not venture out to the wild hills of Tuscany? Oasi Dynamo Nature Reserve has partnered with the World Wildlife Fund to bring you this stunning eco-resort, 80 kilometres north of Florence.
The 1,000 hectare site is home to 16 wooden eco-lodges, each with panoramic views of the surrounding reserve.
Visit the hotel restaurant to get a taste of growing your own food, as the menu features produce grown on the Oasi Dynamo Farm. Guests can also take part in a cheesemaking workshop, before enjoying their own efforts at the restaurant later that night.
Plus there’s ample opportunity to learn about the plants and flowers of the reserve or take a tour to see the full farm-to-table cycle in action.
2. Discover off-grid living at Hazel Hill, Salisbury, UK
If you really want to get off the beaten track and discover what it’s like to live off-grid, then Hazel Hill is the perfect spot for you. The conservation woodland just 11 kilometres outside of Salisbury is managed by the Hazel Hill Trust, a charity whose main aim is to help people connect with nature.
With enough room for groups of up to 30 people, the timber residential buildings are made using wood from the surrounding forest.
They are also almost completely off-grid with compost toilets, a reed bed for processing greywater and all heating provided by burning wood collected from the 28 hectare forest.
1. Try out three green living options at El Toral Eco Farm, Asturias, Spain
For a taste of rural charm, El Toral eco-farm offers visitors a choice of three down to earth options. Whether you choose the caravan with a composting toilet, the yurt with a field kitchen or the cabana - a traditional rural building for shepherds and sheep - you’re guaranteed a taste of the good life.
There are some green gadgets to try out here too including solar-powered phone chargers and a wood-fired boiler, which heats water from a natural spring.
The farm is completely off-grid, so if you’re considering a major lifestyle change, this is a great place to see whether you can cope without fossil fuels.