Being more eco-friendly doesn’t have to break the bank. By saving energy at home, you’re doing your bit for the environment and your wallet. There are so many ways, big and small, to save water, gas, and electricity and live a greener lifestyle. So, here’s our list of 31 tips for keeping an eco-friendlier house.
When you’re doing the washing up, don’t just scrub your dishes under the tap. According to Yorkshire Water, a washing up bowl can save £30 a year. This is based on filling four 8-litre bowls instead of running the tap at 6 l/min for 10 minutes.
By all means, scrape your plates (please), but rinsing them before putting them in the dishwasher will prove to be a waste of water.
This applies both to dishes and clothes. Try not to run your dishwasher or fill your sink until you need to, or else you’ll do it more often and use more water and energy. Of course, the same goes for your washing machine and dryer.
Wash your clothes at a lower temperature (30-40°C). Turning the dryer off early will use less energy while still leaving your clothes warm and dry.
Next time you get a new washer, cooker or other appliance, be sure to pick a more energy-efficient option.
Aim for the amount of water you think you need to boil. It’ll save you both time and energy if the kettle boils quicker.
Whenever you open your fridge or freezer, cold air escapes and warm air flows in. The less space you have for this to happen, the less energy you use to cool that space down again. However, you still need some room for air to circulate, so don’t stuff it to the brim.
Of course, it also helps to keep the door closed whenever you can.
For more ways to make your fridge and freezer work more efficiently, see the rest of our tips here.
Showers are always more water-efficient than baths, right? Wrong! In under 5 minutes, a high-volume power shower can use more water than a bath would. By restricting the flow of water, an eco-showerhead will help you save it.
Of course, quicker showers will also use less water.
Even when your chargers are not in use (e.g. your phone charger), leaving them plugged in draws a tiny bit of energy each day. This is known as ‘vampire power’. Over time, those tiny bits of vampire energy add up.
By keeping all chargers unplugged unless they’re in use, a typical household could save £30 per year.
Leaving chargers plugged in can also cause them to deteriorate quicker, meaning you’ll need to buy a new one sooner.
Laptops use, on average, less energy than desktops. If you don’t use your desktop a lot, it may be worth switching.
According to Energy Saving Trust, 15% of a typical household’s electricity bill is lighting. To cut down on this figure, you could replace your standard 60-Watt lightbulbs with a more energy-saving eco-lightbulb, as low as 9–11 W. Replacing all your lightbulbs with LEDs could save you £35 a year on the electric.
Of course, it also helps to turn your lights off when you leave the room.
Don’t just leave them on standby, switch them off! According to TheGreenAge, leaving a new Sky HD box on standby will cost over £1 a year, whereas an old TV could cost about £15 a year. Across multiple appliances, that kind of thing adds up. About 9–16% of a home’s energy consumption is powering appliances in standby mode, according to Energy Saving Trust’s ‘Powering the nation’ study.
According to Energy Saving Trust, you could save £80 a year by turning the room thermostat down by one degree. Maybe just drop it to 18 degrees and turn it up half a degree at a time until you find a comfortable temperature.
Allow the leftover heat to spread through your kitchen, rather than removing it through an extractor fan.
Wear a thick hoodie, joggers, socks and slippers around the house, and keep warm. You may be less tempted to turn the heating up.
Hot water bottles are relatively cheap and great for saving energy. Just fill them with boiling water, and they’ll keep you warm for hours. You could even use them to warm your bed before you get in.
Make sure not to lose loads of heat under the bottom of your doors. Draught excluders are a simple way to keep the heat in, and there are plenty of nice designs out there. To take things further, you can reduce heat escaping through your letterbox by sticking a sponge in there, or investing in an eco-flap. Even the keyhole might benefit from some insulation.
A draught excluder would also help to keep the heat out of unused rooms inside your house as well as the outside world.
Even if your windows are double-glazed you can still lose heat through them, so maybe get some insulated curtains.
When it’s warm and sunny out, don’t forget to open your curtains to let in that free, natural light and heat.
Don’t forget to give your radiators a health check and bleed them if need be. Next time your heating is on, check for cold spots and slow-to-heat radiators.
Your radiators can also lose some heat through the wall behind them, especially external walls. A couple of sheets of kitchen foil behind the radiator should help reflect the heat back into the room. If that doesn’t help enough, a radiator reflector such as Radflek might.
Try not to block the heat off with your furniture. Make sure your radiators are clear of sofas, chairs, and bookcases.
Don’t keep every radiator on the same setting; adjust them for each room. Your most used rooms (e.g. bedroom and living room) will obviously need heating more than your least used rooms (e.g. spare room and bathroom), but heating all of them equally is a waste of energy.
With your central heating timer, you can make sure the heating is on only when you need it and save energy. For example, half an hour before you get up for work and half an hour before you get home, but not in between.
It could cost around £80 or higher, but it’s a worthy investment to make each year, just to make sure everything is working properly and pick up minor issues before they become major.
For around £15, you can treat your hot water tank to a new jacket and possibly save around £80 a year on your energy bills.
By insulating your pipes as well as your tank, you can also help keep your water hot as it moves around the house. Pipe lagging not only improves your energy efficiency but also helps to stop them freezing in winter.
Keep an eye on your roof, especially after a storm. Missing roof tiles will let water in and ruin your loft insulation, allowing more heat to escape through your roof.
If you have a chimney, you can lose a lot of heat through it. Thankfully, a Chimney Balloon can fill this gap by inflating inside your chimney and holding itself in place, cutting the amount of warm air that escapes. Just make sure you remove it before lighting a fire!
Sealing gaps in the floorboards will stop heat from escaping. Covering the entire floor with a carpet or a nice rug will also help — plus they feel nice.
According to Energy Saving Trust, 25% of heat in an uninsulated home is lost through the roof. Loft insulation can get quite expensive, but there are cheaper ways to do it. DIY shops such as B&Q sell rolls of loft insulation, so you can insulate your own loft.
If your property has a loft conversion or vaulted ceiling, Ploughcroft’s Eco Roof™ thermal blanket can save you up to £500 a year on the heating bills. Visit our Eco Roof page to find out more.
Our 31 ways to save energy at home. If you follow even some of these tips, you’re already helping to keep an eco-friendlier house and reduce your carbon footprint.