Category Archives: Green tips

Save Energy (and Money) in your Home – 40 Amazing Tips!

Heating

Central Heating & Thermostatic Controls

  1. Turn your thermostat down by just 1 degree centigrade. This will cut 10% off your heating bill. You should normally set your central heating thermostat between 18 & 20 C. If you are not at home turn the thermostat down to a low setting such as 10 degrees centigrade just to protect your property from the effects of freezing. Cost : £0. Annual saving: up to £60
  2. Let the sunshine in. On a sunny day, opening your curtains will let warmth into your house, but when it’s colder or the sun goes down don’t forget to close them to keep that heat in. Cost : £0
  3. Keep your radiators clear. For example, don’t put a sofa in front of your radiator, because it will absorb a lot of the heat. Cost : £0
  4. If your radiators are fixed to the outside wall, put radiator panels behind them to reflect the heat back into the room.
  5. For properties with high ceilings, placing a shelf just above the radiator helps to deflect the heat into the centre of the room rather than it drifting straight up to the ceiling.
  6. Fit thermostatic controls to your radiators and a timer to your boiler to ensure heat is provided when and where it is needed.
  7. Get cosy. Wearing more jumpers, socks and slippers around the house, and putting an extra blanket on the bed means you won’t be tempted to turn the heating up.

Hot Water

  1. Most people have their hot water setting at too high a level. Set your hot water to 60 degrees centigrade. Cost : £0. Annual saving : £15 per year
  2. And dont forget to use a plug in your basin or sink to prevent a wasteful use of hot water. Particularly when washing up. Cost : £0. Annual saving £15 per year.
  3. Insulate your water tank to keep your water hot for longer.
  4. Keep your showers to less than 10 minutes – or invest in a shower monitor to keep an eye on how much hot water you’re using.

Appliances

Electric appliances

  1. Switch off electric appliances (this includes TVs, videos, stereos, computers, cordless phones, electric toothbrushes.) at the plug when not in use. Switching off by the remote control and leaving appliances on standby or on charge when not neccessary wastes energy. However, make sure your appliance does not need to be left on to operate or maintain memory functions such as a Sky box. Cost : £0
  2. Don’t forget also, to switch off lights when not in use. (It has been estimated that if everyone did this it would save enough energy to power a town like Colchester.) Cost £0
  3. Whenever you buy a new appliance, first of all make sure you need it and make sure it is suitable for your needs. If you do need to buy an appliance make sure it is an energy efficient one. An ‘A’ rated appliance tends to use only half the energy of a ‘G’ rated model.
  4. Laptops typically use 85 per cent less electricity over a year than desktop PCs. Choosing a laptop over a desktop and reducing standby could save up to £17 per year.

Electric appliances – Fridges and Freezers

  1. Check door seals. They should be able to grip a piece of paper tightly If the don’t they need replacing.
  2. Keep the fridge at 2-3 C and the freezer at -15 C . Use a fridge thermometer to check the temperature
  3. Load and unload your fridge as quickly as possible and don’t leave the fridge door open for longer than you need to.
  4. Keep the fridge away from any other heat sources such as a cooker, ideally near any outside, cooler wall
  5. Make sure the air flow at the back of the fridge is not blocked or limited.
  6. Get the feather duster out from time to time.  When dust gathers on the condenser coils at the back of your fridge, it uses more energy.
  7. Defrost the fridge regularly.
  8. Keeping them full means they don’t have to work as hard and therefore they use less energy. Empty space in your fridge or freezer wastes not only space but energy too.
  9. Don’t put hot food in the fridge, it messes up the temperature inside. Leave it to cool naturally first.

In The Kitchen – Cooking

  1. Only heat the amount of water you need. Use boiled water immediately rather than leaving it for a while and then re-boiling.
  2. Use the kettle to boil water for cooking, instead of heating a pan on the stove. It’s quicker and uses less energy.
  3. Put well fitting lids on pans.
  4. Don’t have gas flames so high they lick the sides of pans.
  5. When using an electric cooker use absolutely level bottomed pans or pots which are the correct size to cover the rings.
  6. Try using a pressure cooker. Cooking a roast chicken in a pressure cooker takes approximately half the time it would need in an oven, and it’s especially good if you like your roast falling apart. As an optional extra you can crisp it up a bit by putting it in the oven for around 15 minutes afterwards.
  7. Use the microwave instead of the oven – it cooks food quicker and so uses less energy. Microwaves often provide a much more energy efficient way of cooking food than in the oven. This is because microwave ovens use energy to directly heat your food, whereas electric ovens must also heat the air inside the oven.
  8. Heat your home with cooking. Leave the oven door open after cooking to let the heat warm your kitchen. The oven might give off enough heat for you to adjust your thermostat, a far more efficient use of that stored heat than throwing it out of your home with an extractor fan.
  9. Save time and stock up. If you’re going to use the oven, bake a few meals at a time to get the most out of having your oven on. After all, oven’s allow us to heat more than one shelf at a time so why waste your heat?

In The Kitchen – Washing

  1. Try to ensure the washing machine is full when you use it. If it isn’t use the half-load setting. If you can, do the week’s laundry in one go and put a full load into the machine.
  2. Use low temperature washes whenever possible.
  3. Hang up your laundry. Try to air – dry clothes naturally on a clothes line or clothes horse, rather than by a tumble dryer, particularly if there’s warm or windy weather. What’s more nothing smells fresher than air-dried clothes.
  4. Use ecoballs in the tumble dryer. They spread out your washing so your clothes dry quicker.
  5. As tempting as it is, don’t dry clothes on the radiators. It makes your boiler work harder than it needs to.

Other Energy Savers

  1. Use your curtains wisely. Open your curtains to let more light in instead of switching on lights. Close your curtains at dusk however to prevent heat escaping through your windows. Cost : £0. Annual saving £15 per year
  2. Stop draughts. Check out our top ten tips to preventing draughts

Stop Draughts – 10 Simple Tips

Stopping draughts can be a very easy and cost effective way to help save energy, make your home more comfortable and reduce your heating bills.

Draughts can cause heat to escape from almost everywhere in your house but particularly through windows and outside doors.

Our top 10 helpful tips are:

  1. Check the fit of all your windows and outside doors – make sure there are no gaps
  2. Fit a draught excluding flap behind your letter box and cover the keyhole
  3. Remember to insulate your loft hatch or door and fit draught-proofing around its edges
  4. Put metal or plastic draught-proofing strips around the sides of the doors
  5. Fit draught excluders to the bottoms of doors (attaching strips securely so that they don’t trip you up)
  6. Fit plastic sheeting to window frames with double-sided tape or magnetic strip, for a cost effective form of double glazing. Make sure it is easily detachable so that you can escape in the event of fire
  7. Hang heavy curtains or curtains with thermal linings. When you draw curtains, remember not to cover radiators which are under windows.
  8. Use a floor board gap filler such as DraughtEx
  9. Insert insulation boards such as Celotex under floors 
  10. Seal the edges of fittings in walls (such as cat flaps and tumble dryer hoses) with expanding foam.

IMPORTANT

Always remember to leave ventilation for gas fires, boilers and coal fires. Never block ventilators or air bricks. They are there to remove fumes. Air circulation is necessary. Kitchens and bathrooms also need ventilation to avoid excess moisture building up

25 Top Tips for a Green Christmas

Image by rawpixel CC0

Image by rawpixel CC0

Every year, Christmas places a heavy burden on the earths resources and our environment. However, it is the major festival in Britain, offering lots of fun to millions. We don’t want to be killjoys but we would like to reduce its environmental impact.

Luckily, with a little thought and a bit of information we can significantly reduce its impact, save money and actually have more fun.

On this page you can find out how to reduce the waste you produce over the festive season and recycle what you do produce, as well as how to save energy (from the increased use of all those new electrical appliances) and money and have a very merry green Christmas!

Here’s our top tips for a green Christmas:

Christmas Cards

1.5 billion Christmas cards are thrown away by UK residents each year according to Imperial College researchers.

1.  Why not send an e-card instead of a paper card this year. This is becoming increasingly popular, with senders sometimes donating the money they have saved on cards and postage to a favourite charity.

2.  When Christmas is over don’t just throw your old Christmas Cards away – recycle them. Probably the easiest way is through your kerbside paper collection. If you are feeling particularly crafty you can make them into gift tags for next year. Try to go easy on glitter, cards and paper with glitter on them are difficult to recycle and glitter is a microplastic that has harmful effects on the environment.

 

Christmas Trees

3.  If you buy a real Christmas Tree make sure you buy it from a sustainable source. For suppliers of UK-grown sustainable Christmas trees check out www.christmastree.org.uk and try to buy it from a local producer.

4. Don’t let your tree be part of the 90% that end up in landfill. When Christmas is over recycle your real tree by cutting it up and putting it in with your green waste kerbside collection. Alternatively, if you are visiting the zoo see if they want it to use in the animal enclosures. Otherwise, you can recycle it at your local Household Recycling Centre.

5.  Artificial trees -If you have one already, use it for as many years as possible to make the most of it. If you don’t have one, try FreegleFreecycleEbay or Gumtree for a pre-loved one.

Christmas Dinner and all that food and drink

6.  Buy local, seasonal, winter vegetables (these include sprouts, carrots, cabbage, leeks, onions, parsnips, swede, potatoes and nuts such as walnuts and chestnuts). Visit your local Farmers’ Market or Farm shop and pick up some quality local produce to give yourself a treat at Christmas. Find your local market or producer at https://www.bigbarn.co.uk/

7. For those foods where you can’t buy local choose Fairtrade, organic fruit, nuts and chocolate. Visit Fairtrade for a list of Fairtrade products in shops.

8.  Buy bottles of wine and champagne with real corks not screw caps or plastic ones. Not a single tree is cut down in their production – just a small part of the bark is removed leaving the tree alive. In fact insisting on real cork helps maintain one of the most environmentally friendly industries possible. It provides essential employment for the people who work in the cork forests of the Mediterranean and helps to maintain vital habitats for the endangered wildlife of these forests such as the Iberian lynx (the last remaing habitat), Spanish Imperial eagle and the Barbary deer, The stoppers also make excellent fire lighters.

9. And now you have got all those corks recycle them through Recorked! We collect corks here at en-form!

10. Buy and cook only what you need. If you do have food left over make sure you compost your vegetable waste such as potato and sprout peelings and dispose of any cooked and meat waste through your food waste kerbside collection.

11.  Buy your Brussels sprouts from a farm shop or Farmers Market still on the stalk. They will keep for up to two weeks in a shed or on the patio, saving vital fridge space and cutting down on packaging. Compost your stalk and sprout peelings.

12.  Don’t forget our garden birds. Use excess cooking fat from the goose or turkey and muesli to make your own fat balls. While the fat is still warm, spoon into muffin cases; add a hanging string or make sure they fit your bird feeder.

Buying Presents

13.  Don’t buy useless presents that the recipients don’t want. What about taking them out for a meal, the cinema or buying a season ticket for the local football team or local zoo for a present to remember. Better than another pair of socks.

14.  Try and buy environmentally friendly and useful gifts. What about a bike instead of some electronic game that is discarded on boxing day. Or something very useful but unusual for your elderly relatives like cavity wall insulation that makes a real difference to their quality of life.

15.  We are all a little time poor these days so why not give a little time instead of money. Use your imagination but what about offering a foot or head massage, makeovers, dinner or the washing up. Why spend if you don’t have to? Free Christmas Gift Cheques are a lovely way of making your time the thing that counts.

16. Follow the four gift rule. This is a trend which has become more popular on social media in recent years. Parents pledge to give their children just four presents: Something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read. 

 

Unwanted Presents

17.  Give all your unwanted presents along with old clothes, toys etc that may have been replaced to local charity shops or on Freegle  freecycle or sell them on ebay or Gumtree

18. Re-gifting’ is OK. There’s much discussion these days about the etiquette behind the trend to ‘re-gift’, that is, to pass on a gift you received but do not need. What’s to discuss? Re-gifting makes perfect sense. If you receive something you really don’t need, look for ways you can reuse this gift by passing it on to someone who can use it. Of course, re-gifting needs to be done with care so as not to offend the original giver, but keeping a gift you don’t need is wasteful.

Recycle all your Christmas waste

19. At Christmas thousands of extra drink cans and bottles are produced. Don’t just throw them away. Make sure you recycle all your glass bottles, cans, aluminium foil, paper and cardboard through your kerbside collection scheme or recycling banks. If you use the recycling banks please remember they are normally overflowing during the festive period so it would be helpful if you could spread your visit to the banks over a longer period.

Stamps

20.  Save your old Stamps – It won’t be long before Christmas cards start arriving through the post. This year tear off the old stamp and give it to charity. Many charities, schools, churches and clubs save old stamps which they sell for money. You can hand them in at many of the towns charity shops.

Save Energy at Christmas

Christmas is a time of particularly high energy consumption. The whole house is heated as extra family members return for the holidays. Lights, televisions and stereos are left on and cooking appliances are used more heavily. Not to mention the energy needed to power all those electric gadgets bought as presents. Being careful with your energy usage at this time of year can save your household a considerable amount of money.  Visit the Energy section to find out how to save energy at home.

21.  Many gadgets bought for Christmas require batteries, which cost money and need to be disposed of. Try to buy things that don’t need batteries but can be run from the mains or are rechargeable. If you have to buy batteries make sure they are rechargeable ones, preferably Nimh – they .last a lot longer and save you money into the bargain.

22. And when you have had to use batteries make sure you recycle them when they no longer work. Most shops and supermarkets have recycling points these days.

23.  You could also purchase gifts that use renewable energy, for example solar powered (or wind up) radio’s and torches and mobile phone chargers.

24.  Use LED lights for house and Christmas tree lighting – LED (Light Emitting Diode) christmas lights use up to 95% less energy than larger, traditional holiday bulbs and last up to 100,000 hours when used indoors. LED christmas lights use .04 watts per bulb, 10 times less than mini bulbs and 100 times less than traditional holiday bulbs. Not only will this save you money but as an added bonus, if one of the LED lights burns out the rest of the strand will stay lit.

25.  Instead of energy-intensive computer games, have fun with board games or old-fashioned parlour games like Macavity’s Cat, charades or Moriarty – our family favourite which consists of blindfolded adversaries trying to whack each other with rolled up newspapers. Search for games on www.vam.ac.uk/moc.