Twenty Tips for Saving the Planet
We all know how important it is to cut down our energy requirements before we damage our environment beyond repair as well as run out of oil, but where to start? Each one of us needs to save 20% of our energy use if we are to save our planet.
Here are some simple ways in which we can contribute to a healthier world as well as saving ourselves money into the bargain.
As 84% of all energy costs in the home are taken up by heating and hot water it makes sense to start there.
1. Turn down your thermostat by 1°. It's too small to notice the difference but could save you £40 a year. An ideal room temperature is between 18 - 21 degrees. And if you do feel cold, wear an extra layer of clothing before thinking of turning up the heat.
2. Put up lined curtains and close them at night to cut heat loss through windows, especially if they are not double glazed. 18% of wasted heat escapes through windows.
3. Add an extra layer of insulation in your roof space. Over a quarter of all heat loss escapes through the roof. A layer 270mm thick could cut £20 off your heating costs.
4. Put in cavity wall insulation if your walls are suitable as a third of all heat loss occurs through them. Cavity wall insulation can reduce this by 60%.
5. How old is your boiler? Think about replacing an old boiler for greater efficiency and a reduction in heating costs. A boiler's life is estimated at around 15 years and a new, condensing boiler could save you around £100 a year.
6. Adjust your heating programmer to suit the comings and goings of the household. It is a waste of precious energy to heat a house if no-one is there at that time.
7. How hot is your hot water? If it runs too hot, turn down the thermostat on your hot water cylinder to 60°. And of course, make sure the tank has a thermal jacket.
8. Fix any taps, especially hot ones. One dripping tap wastes enough water to fill a bath in two weeks.
9. Have a shower, not a bath. You use up to 50 litres less water that way. Power showers, however, can use up as much water as a bath.
10. Cut the temperature on your washing machine to 30°. Soap powders are now available for laundry at low temperatures and are just as effective.
All those lights use up more energy than you think. Here are some ways to reduce that.
11.Use low energy light bulbs. They cost a little more but last much longer and will save on energy costs. Each bulb can save you up to £100 in its lifetime.
12. Switch off lights when you leave a room. Having your whole house lit up is simply throwing money away as well as being wasteful of energy.
13. Don't leave your television, computer or other electrical appliances on standby or mobile phone chargers plugged in. All those little red lights are using electricity.
And there are even more ways to use less energy and cut down waste.
14. When making a cup of tea or coffee only boil as much water as you need. Filling the kettle is wasteful and it takes longer to heat.
15. Buy energy saving appliances. Many items now have to carry the Energy Saving Recommended logo. Appliances rated A are the most energy efficient.
16. Make full use of your council's recycling scheme. Recycle cardboard and newspapers, tin cans and bottles, plastic containers and milk cartons.
17. Give books, ornaments and unwanted clothing to charity shops or put them in designated bins at supermarkets and recycling centres.
18. Don't waste food. We all throw away too much food because it's past its sell by date or it can't be used. Plan your menus before hitting the shops so that you don't buy more than you actually need.
19. Re-use plastic bags when shopping. Or invest in reusable bags available in supermarkets. Buy loose fruit and vegetables rather than pre-packaged ones.
20. Try not to buy produce that has been flown in from abroad. It adds to air miles and carbon emissions. Buy local produce and try to buy fruit and vegetables in season. Out of season fruits like strawberries have extra heating costs in their production.
For a home energy check to see how energy efficient your home is and to receive advice on how to improve it, go to www.energysavingtrust.org.uk.
Friends of the Earth website (www.foe.co.uk/living) has a section on tips for cutting your carbon footprint.
It's not all that difficult to save 20% of the energy we use, and remember, we save money too.