Saving energy has a twofold purpose. It saves money for the consumer and it has a positive effect on the environmental impact we make on the planet. While the first reason will almost by default motivate most people to make a difference as it will have an immediate impact on their lives and welfare, saving the planet has become a consideration that is no longer the realm of the hippies and tree huggers- we all have a role to play. But just how can we save energy in our daily life?
Switch off lights and appliances
It may seem obvious but when a light is on in a room that isn’t being used, that is a flagrant waste. When you start to think of the pennies that add up for every hour that an unused light is on and add them up over a year, you’ll discover that by turning the lights off you’ll be that much closer to that cruise in the Caribbean you’ve always wanted. Think in terms of what you would rather use the money for and you’ll be re-educating your family about how leaving lights and appliances on unnecessarily is literally like burning money.
Standby devices also consume electricity, and while it may be at a fraction of the cost of running the device, it all adds up. In larger homes where there is more than one television or music centre, turning these devices off completely, even if it is only overnight will bring an exponential change to your monthly or quarterly energy bill.
Have you ever caught yourself whizzing away at the keyboard on your laptop with a fully charged battery, and it’s still plugged into the charger? Aside from the fact that is bad for your laptop and will reduce its life expectancy, you’re also still drawing energy off the grid. This is common with mobile phones and camera battery chargers too. Additionally, they could create a potential fire hazard.
The most common method used to save energy is the energy-saving light bulb. When shopping to replace light bulbs remember that not all light bulbs were created equally. You will also need a different wattage for a bedroom than you will in a living room or a kitchen, remember that although halogen bulbs provide both heat and light, they are the least efficient in terms of energy use and really should only be used if the purpose demands it.
Most energy suppliers will have government funded schemes where you can apply for a grant to save energy and make your home more energy efficient. If you can insulate your cavity walls and loft, and have it paid for through a scheme then not only will you save money on your bills, but you’ll also increase the value of your home. What a bonus!
Double glazed windows have become the rule rather than the exception in the UK today, but they also have a long lifespan and if your current double glazing is getting on in life, it may time to replace it- maybe even with triple glazing. The investment is twofold, you’ll see the cost of heating your home drop as well as the value of your property go up. That’s a real equity and cost equaliser.
In conservation areas and in older homes with single glazing and sash windows, double glazing may not be an option. This need not mean that you have to accept loss of heat through the windows. Professionally installed secondary glazing, use of night time shutters and heavier, lined curtains and blinds, or even a combination of both, can make a substantial difference to the heating bill and help to close up the hole in your pocket.
Inside the home
How can we save energy in our daily life when it comes to our home life? There are other important changes that can be made to save energy in addition to switching energy suppliers. In the case of homes that use immersion heaters, particularly in households that use storage and economy seven heating systems, insulated jackets for the hot water cylinder will keep the water hotter for longer reducing the need to reheat the water. This also helps to avoid having to reheat the entire cylinder simply to wash the dishes. There are also some innovative heating systems on the market which can save you money in the long run.
In the kitchen, the difference can be made by only boiling enough water for your cup of tea, as boiling a full kettle repeatedly across the day all adds up. The additional energy used daily will add up over days, weeks months and the year and amount to a much higher energy bill. If you cook for one, it is more efficient to cook larger amounts of a meal and then freeze some of the food to be reheated in a microwave, using the energy much more efficiently.
Developing an awareness of how we save energy, and the long term impact it has both economically and on the environment, will make life better for all of us in terms of additional disposable income as well as a planet worth leaving for our grandchildren.