Money and energy saving tips
Saving energy around the home is easy and if enough people take up the challenge, together we can make a real difference to our planet. Here you will find free and low-cost ways to help tackle climate change and save money at the same time.
Make your own power! It’s now cheaper and easier than ever to harness renewable sources of energy at home, from simple solar electricity or hot water heating systems to domestic wind turbines. Grants may also be available to cover some of the cost.
Energy-efficient lighting. In most homes, lighting accounts for 10-15% of the electricity bill. Energy-efficient light bulbs use a quarter of the electricity, helping to cut down on greenhouse gases. They also last up to 15 times longer and a single bulb could save you up to £60 before it needs replacing. Newer LED-based lighting systems are also energy efficient and long lasting.
Saved water = saved energy. It takes a lot of energy (and chemicals) to turn water from rivers and reservoirs into water for drinking, cooking and washing. More energy is needed to pump it and keep it flowing into our homes. When it goes down the drain, even more energy is used pumping and treating it as waste water. Learning to save water is therefore an essential part of helping to tackle climate change. If you have a water meter, saving water will also save you money.
Water saving tips. Turn off the tap while you brush your teeth – a running tap wastes over 6 litres of water per minute! Other ways to save water include taking showers rather than baths and only running dishwashers or washing machines when full or using economy programmes. You can collect rainwater from your shed, garage or greenhouse roof and use dish and bath water to keep your garden moist in summer, rather than watering with a hose.
Home heating and hot water. Turning down the thermostat one degree can help to reduce global warming and cut your heating bill by around £55 a year. Tank insulation keeps your water hotter for longer by reducing the amount of heat that escapes. If you put an insulating jacket on your hot water tank, you could save an additional £35 a year.
Update your boiler. Replacing an old boiler and installing heating controls could save 25% on your heating bills, which could represent a saving of up to £235 a year. Grants may be available to help cover the cost of new heating systems.
Hot water – put the plug in! Always put the plug in your basin or sink. Leaving hot water taps running with the plug removed is basically washing money down the plughole.
Fix water leaks. A dripping tap wastes at least 5,500 litres of water a year, which is enough to fill a paddling pool every week for the whole summer!
Only boil the water you need. By everyone just boiling the amount of water needed when making a hot drink we can save enough energy to power over 7 million TVs for a year.
Match pan size to ring or hob size. Use the right size of ring or hob for the pan you’re using. Larger rings cost more to keep hot and if the pan doesn’t cover its entire surface, loads of heat escapes around the edges and is wasted.
Energy-efficient appliances. When buying fridges, freezers, washing machines or tumble dryers, take a look at their energy-efficiency label. Models labelled Grade A are the most efficient and may only use up half the energy of a similar old model.
Fridges and freezers. Close the fridge or freezer door as soon as you’ve got what you need – even if you know you’ll be back in there soon. Every second the door stays open, the inside temperature will rise and the more power it will take to cool back down again. Every time you open the door of your fridge or freezer, warm air rushes into any empty spaces. Fill up empty space in fridges and freezers with old (clean!) polystyrene packaging to help reduce the volume of air that needs to be kept cool.
Dishwashers. When using a dishwasher, wait until you have a full load and try using the low temperature programme or eco-cycle if it has one.
Washing clothes. Most modern washing machines (and some dishwashers) have economy or low temperature and “half-load” settings. These can save you money by reducing the amount of water heated to suit how much is actually being washed.
Drying clothes. Hanging your clothes up to dry costs nothing and is much better for the environment than using a tumble dryer, which costs a lot to run. An added bonus is that your clothes will last longer – the lifespan of elastic and many synthetics is drastically reduced by tumble drying. If you don’t have a washing line outside, consider putting a clothes pulley up indoors – it’s always hotter nearer the ceiling and so things will dry quicker up there. For a quick fix, clothes-horses cost only a few pounds and can be folded away when not in use. If you have radiators however, don’t drape wet clothes directly over the top as this will make them work harder to heat the room. Instead, buy metal hangers that hook over the top and keep washing away from the radiator surface. NEVER place clothes on electric storage heaters or close to open fires, gas fires or portable heaters.
Switch appliances off at the wall. Avoid leaving TVs, videos, computers or music systems on standby and remember not to leave appliances such as mobile phones on charge unnecessarily. Even while on standby, most appliances use electricity, so switch off and save up to 8% of your annual electricity bill.
Turn lights off. Remember to turn lights off when you leave a room!
Home insulation. A typical house loses up to 35% of its heat through the walls and up to 25% through the roof. Check that your roof and pipes are adequately insulated – this will save both energy and money. Grants may be available to help cover the cost of insulating your home.
Draughts. Cutting down on draughts by fitting draught excluders to doors and windows will also help keep the heat in your home. Even just rolling up an old blanket and pinning it to the bottom of a door can help.
Windows. Well-fitted double or triple glazed units are best for preventing heat escaping through your windows. Can’t afford new windows? Even just drawing the curtains can make a major difference. In winter, close your curtains as soon as it starts to get dark. For extra warmth, look for curtains with thermal linings and remember that fabric curtains are usually better at beating draughts and trapping heat than blinds.
Grow your own. Think of all the energy that’s used to get the fruit and vegetables you eat to your plate – transport from the farmer to the supermarket, packaging, heating, lighting and refrigeration in the shops, travelling from home to the supermarket by car. There’s no need for any of this if you grow your own fruit and veg! You don’t have to be an expert gardener and you don’t even need a garden to get started – you can grow herbs in a window box, tomatoes in a sunny room or potatoes in containers on the patio. Or you could get an allotment or volunteer at a community garden.
- Try to buy products with minimal or recyclable packaging.
- Reuse jars, yogurt containers and soup pots with replaceable lids for storage.
- Recycle carrier bags or use a shopper bag instead. Some supermarkets will reward you for recycling carriers.
- Look out for the Future Friendly ‘Less Waste, More Reward’ logo on household products, such as Ariel, Fairy liquid and Duracell.
Live in a tree-free home
Replace paper napkins with cloth napkins.
Replace paper towels with a special set of cloth towels/napkins (or cut up old t-shirts for great towels) – store the used ones in a small container in your kitchen and just wash and reuse.
Purchase bleach-free toilet paper that is made from the highest post-consumer waste content you can find (80% minimum).
If you print documents, print on once-used paper and/or bleach-free, recycled paper with the highest post-consumer waste content available (or hemp/alternative-source paper, if you can afford it)
Reuse envelopes, wrapping paper, the front of gift cards (as postcards) and other paper materials you receive wherever possible. You even turn them into craft projects.
Read books, magazines, and newspapers from your local library.
Create and use note pads from once-used paper.
Leave messages for family members/roommates on a reusable message board.
Make your own cards/letters from once-used products or handmade paper.
For more ways to reduce your carbon footprint, visit our Eco Page here. If you’re interested in making your home more energy efficient (and saving money at the same time!) visit Ace’s Tips for all you need to know about boiler efficiency, loft and cavity wall insulation, double glazing, solar electricity installations and general energy saving tips.