Thanks to Big Green Switch for the original content of this page, now updated by TSR users.
There are plenty of ways that you can help the planet at home. Many of these ways are not just beneficial for the planet, but they are beneficial towards your pocket as well.
Appliances on Standby
Although your TV screen may look dormant, it’s actually using energy at an alarming rate behind that innocent-looking façade. Recent studies have shown that gadgets left on standby squander electricity worth £740m per annum and are responsible for 4m tonnes of excess carbon dioxide each year.
The good news is that recent government legislation has meant that standby buttons are beginning to be phased out, making energy efficiency within your home much easier to achieve. However, rather than waiting for these changes to begin, why not get a head start by switching off your appliances now? You’ll be saving energy, money and cutting your carbon emissions.
The average UK household wastes £37 each year by leaving appliances on standby.
Keep your Fridge/Freezer full
Your fridge/freezer is one of the busiest energy users in your kitchen, running at full capacity 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And the emptier your fridge or freezer is, the harder it has to work to keep everything inside nice and cold.
Keeping your fridge or freezer as full as possible reduces the amount of energy used by your appliance. While we’d love to have them packed with delicious foods and drinks all the time, it’s far more cost-effective (and better for the waistline!) to fill empty space in your appliances with carrier bags filled with newspaper.
As well as reducing the energy usage by one of your home’s most power-hungry appliances, you could save pounds off your electricity bills too.
- A half-empty fridge can use 20% more energy than a full one.
- Keeping your fridge full could cut £20-£30 per year off your electricity bill.
Only Boil as much as you need in your Kettle
A recent study showed that most people don’t look at the volume indicator on the side of their kettle, often resulting in them boiling far more water than they actually need. Referring to this measure can help you to accurately determine the amount of liquid necessary.
Another way to measure how much water you require is to fill the cup or saucepan you are planning to use and then pour this water into the kettle, remembering to add a little bit extra to compensate for evaporation.
Turn that Thermostat down
Winter is cold and wearing extra layers of lovely warm clothing is the best way to keep the chill out. Bikinis are not ideal winter wear, and neither are shorts or sleeveless t-shirts.
However, many people still dress in summer garments during the winter months and then turn up the heating to compensate. And, even if you’re not partial to wearing a bikini in your living room, it's still likely that you don’t put on enough clothing to keep warm without the aid of central heating.
If your house starts to feel chilly put on a jumper rather than turning up the heating. Or, if you think you may be overheating your house, turn down the thermostat and try warm clothing instead.
Alternatively, if you feel your house is the right temperature, you could consider decreasing the amount of time the heating is actually switched on for. Do you really need to keep the house warm until midnight when you’re in bed by ten? Or could you sleep under an extra blanket and turn off the heating a couple of hours earlier?
Also consider setting your thermostat to come on a bit later in the morning. By shaving just two hours off the time you spend heating your house each day, you could make a significant energy and financial saving.
- Turning down your thermostat by just one degree can cut 10% off your heating bill. The average annual heating bill for a three-bed, semi-detached house is £450, so you could save around £45 per year by simply losing one degree.
- If you decide to reduce the amount of time your heating is on for you could make an even larger saving. Central heating costs around 30p per hour (less if you have Economy Seven). Therefore, if you can switch off your heating 2 hours earlier each evening you could save 60p a day. Even though you will only need your heating on for around half the year, this would still add up to a saving of nearly £110 annually!
Wash at a Lower Temperature
Most modern detergents work just as well in cooler water and some are even designed to work at a lower temperature. Why not try washing your clothes at 30°C to save energy and help to reduce CO2 emissions.
Alternatively, to be an even greener cleaner, use laundry balls in your wash. Not only can these be used on a lower temperature, but they also negate the need for harmful detergents.
Lowering the temperature of your wash could save you up to 40% on the running costs of your washing machine.
Turn that light bulb off
This is probably the easiest switch you can make. Rather than leaving a light on when you exit a room, simply switch it off. It couldn’t be easier!
The less time you spend with the lights on, the more energy you save. A normal bulb will use 60 watts of energy an hour, meaning that you could conserve nearly 22,000 watts of energy per year by just switching off one bulb for one hour every day. That’s enough energy to power one months worth of evening TV viewing!
Also try to consider how many lights you need on, or if you need one on at all. Is a lamp really necessary in a sunlit room? Do you need three separate sources of light in your kitchen?
By making small changes like this you’ll soon be saving energy and money.
- A cut of just 6 hours of individual bulb lighting every day will save you enough energy for six-months worth of evening TV viewing!
- Turning off one bulb for one hour a day will save you in the region of £2.20 a year. Therefore, if you can cut the 6 hours mentioned above, not only will you be offsetting your evening TV viewing for half the year, but you’ll also be saving over £13 per annum.
Hang your washing out
If the weather’s looking pleasant, dry your clothes on a line outside. Even if the weather is being typically British, you can still avoid the tumble dryer by finishing off your wet washing indoors.
Be careful not to put your clothes over a radiator though as this stops the heat from reaching the rest of the room, creates damp and provides good growing conditions for mould. Try putting up a clothes rail in an unheated room, opening the window slightly to allow damp to escape and shutting the door to stop heat being drawn into the room.
If you still need to use your dryer, don’t put soaking wet clothes into it. This will only mean it takes even longer to dry them, using up extra energy and costing you more. Wring out clothes or spin-dry them first to reduce moisture as much as possible.
Also, keeping heavy fabrics (such as damp towels and bedding) away from lighter fabrics will help to reduce the cycle time needed for some loads.
Turn those chargers off
95% of the energy used by the UK’s mobile phone chargers is wasted energy. Only 5% is actually utilized to charge phones, the rest is squandered when the charger is plugged into the wall but not switched off at the socket. That’s over 50,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions that could be avoided if we all just unplugged our chargers!
This is probably one of the easiest changes to make. At the end of charging your mobile, laptop, digital camera or anything else that may need to be plugged in, simply disconnect it or switch it off at the wall. Easy peasy!
Fully Loaded Washing Machines
The half load setting on your washing machine uses more than half the energy and water of a full load, so it makes better economical and environmental sense to wait until you have a full load of clothes.
Try to store up all your clothes until you have enough to fill one large load, rather than having to run several smaller ones. By conserving energy and water you’ll be saving on your monthly bills, as well as needing to buy less washing powder.
Defrost your Freezer regularly
Have a look in your freezer. Can you see over 1cm thickness of ice around the inside, or crystals forming on packages? If the answer is yes, then it's time to defrost your freezer.
The first step is to get rid of all your food. This doesn’t mean that you have to throw it away or eat everything up in one go though. The easiest way to store your food is to just wrap each item in newspaper, place them all in a box, and put the box in the coldest place you can think of. You can also use a freezer bag or ice box if you have these available.
Then leave the freezer to defrost itself overnight, or speed things up a little by using boiling water or a hairdryer. Unplug the freezer before starting any defrosting process and don't forget that you'll need tons of towels to mop up excess water.
Making this switch will cost you very little and, by saving energy, you're also saving money on your electricity bill.