There's a lot of talk about energy efficiency these days. Most of us aspire to a greener lifestyle, but sometimes we need a little push in the right direction. What better incentive than the prospect of saving some money! Here are ten tips to help you save the planet and some cold, hard cash. Better still, none involve wearing every jumper you own or eating dinner by candlelight...
1. Turn out the lights
Annual saving - £200
It's simple but effective - remember to switch off the lights when you leave the room. Take it one step further by replacing lightbulbs with energy saving models. A 12 watt energy saving bulb will do the job of a 60 watt standard bulb - but you'll only need 20% of the energy to run it. With the average household having 23 lightbulbs, the savings will soon add up.
Don't be put off by the cost of energy saving bulbs. They are available for under a quid and will last for 6-8 years, up to 10 times longer than a normal light bulb, making them a really bright idea! See how much you could save using this calculator, and then order your bulbs.
2. Don't overfill your kettle...
Annual saving - £20
Only boil as much water as you need. Heating water uses a lot of energy, and it's easy to overfill the kettle for one cup of tea. Why not buy an eco kettle so you don't have to guess how much you need? We tend to boil twice as much water as we use - perhaps we're just too lazy to revisit the tap every time we fancy a cuppa? The eco-kettle has an internal reservoir which holds up to 8 cups of water, and a separate chamber for boiling. So you fill the kettle, press the measuring button and, hey presto, the eco kettle boils just enough water for your needs.
3. ...But do fill your dishwasher
Annual saving - £75
Up to 80 percent of the energy needed for one dishwasher cycle is used to heat the water. Never switch on a half-empty dishwasher, unless you can use a half-load or economy program. Take a similar approach with washing machines and tumble dryers - all are more energy efficient if fully loaded. Reducing the number of loads could save you enough money to pay for all the washing powder, detergent and fabric softener you need!
Want to save even more money? Your washing machine will use 30% less electricity on a 40°C cycle, compared to a 60°C cycle. At 30°C, the savings in electricity and cash are even higher. With the average UK washing machine churning out a whopping 274 loads a year, you could save yourself £40 annually simply by turning down the heat.
4. Insulate your wallet
Annual saving - £130 - £380
Insulating your home is perhaps the single most effective way of slashing your energy bills. Loft and cavity wall insulation help to keep heat in via a layer of non-conducting material. Pipes and water heaters can also be insulated to further reduce energy loss and save you more money. Think you can't afford to have your home insulated? Grants are now available which dramatically reduce the cost. The Snug as a Bug home insulation scheme is just one of those available, and the savings can be phenomenal:
Initial cost of cavity wall insulation - up to £500 Annual saving on energy bill - £130-£160
Initial cost of loft insulation (0-270mm) - c. £230
Annual saving on energy bill - £180-£220
5. Unplugged is unpaid
Annual saving - £20
Try to switch off appliances that are not in use, rather than leaving them on standby. This includes your TV, PC, video or DVD player, Hi-Fi and many more. Remember as well, to unplug your mobile phone charger. It might seem like a drop in the ocean, but you could save a few kilowatt hours and a couple of quid for the sake of flicking a switch. Even better, harness the sun's energy to power your mobile, iPod or other device, with an eco-friendly Solio charger. Remember, sunlight is free!
6. Use some elbow grease
Annual saving - £10
The average kitchen is stuffed with labour saving devices. Have you thought about the health benefits as well as the financial savings of reducing your reliance on electric blenders, beaters, food processors and grinders? Try surviving for a day without these devices! As well as saving electricity, you'll burn up calories by peeling, chopping, stirring, whisking and beating. So your body may soon be as healthy as your bank balance.
7. Choose energy efficient appliances
Annual saving - up to £100 Are you harbouring a wasteful washing machine or an ineffective oven? Many household appliances are uneconomical, especially older models. Energy efficient models can save you substantial sums:
- £45 a year for a fridge freezer
- £15 a year for a dishwasher
- £25 a year for a PC and printer
You can check the rating of your existing appliances or search for the most efficient models at the Energy Savings Trust.
8. Shower power
Annual saving - £50
Having a shower instead of a bath uses only a third of the energy, so limit your long soaks in the tub and save them for days when you really need to relax and unwind. Beware of power showers, though, which are less energy efficient than standard showers. If you don't like the thought of standing under a dribble of water, get yourself a BodySpa Showerhead – an innovative way to save energy, water and money without losing water pressure.
9. Switch supplier
Annual saving - £100 - £200
Switching to a green energy supply could save you money, as green tariffs can be lower. For a comprehensive overview of green tariffs and links to all the suppliers, visit Energy Watch. To find the cheapest energy providers in your area, and arrange a switch, visit Energy Helpline.com.
10. Turn your thermostat down
Annual saving - £30
Reducing the temperature in your property by as little as 1ºC could save you a significant amount. The average UK heating bill is £300, and adjusting your thermostat could reduce that by up to 10 per cent.
Where can I get more advice?
If you are keen to find out more about saving money by reducing your energy consumption, help is at hand!
For information on grants and offers to help pay for installing energy saving measures, contact the Energy Savings Trust online or call 0800 512 012. EST can put you in touch with your local advice centre for free advice on saving energy in your home.
The Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) provides factsheets on saving energy. There is advice on everything from sheep's wool insulation to energy efficient conservatories.
For advice specific to small businesses and organisations, visit the website of Reduce the Use, a campaign to encourage energy and cost saving measures in the workplace which benefit the environment.