Energy saving at home is the key to an environmentally friendly lifestyle. Reducing domestic bills and power consumption while keeping the home comfortable is easy with some simple adjustments.
Turn it Down
Adjust your home heating thermostat to ensure all living areas are kept at 20°C and leave it there. There is always a temptation to push it back up a few degrees if there’s any hint of a chill but that only serves to waste heat in other areas of the home. The temperature in hallways and bedrooms is generally cooler, but these rooms are used less. Lowering the ambient temperature of your home by 1 degree will reduce your heating bill by 10%, a healthy incentive to stop playing with the thermostat.
Fit thermostatic valves to all radiators to automatically switch the radiator on and off according to the room temperature. If the room isn’t being used, then save energy by turning the valves down or the radiator off. Set your heating timer to suit when you are up and about the house. Your radiators will continue to provide heat after they are switched off, so set your timer to switch off the boiler half an hour before you go out. Ensure your boiler is running efficiently with a regular service.
Whether your water is heated by the boiler or an immersion heater, set the thermostat to 60°C, ensuring that you don’t overheat it. Insulating your hot water cylinder correctly can keep your water warm for days and saves fuel when it needs to be reheated.
Dishwashers and washing machines consume most of their energy heating water. Use the eco-cycle on your machines if it they have one and only run the programme when you have a full load, saving on water and electricity. Newer, more efficient washing machines, using modern detergents, can now clean your wash at 30°C, making a huge saving. Only use the hot wash setting for more dirtier items.
Switch it Off
Switch off all your appliances at night or when you are out of the house. You should turn off your computer whenever you are not going to use it for more than an hour. Remove plugs from their sockets to prevent appliances remaining in standby mode.
Mind the Draught
We were all brought up to the sound of exasperated parents berating us to close the door behind us. Nothing has changed, close any doors that bridge a heated and an unheated area.
Check the house for draughts, usually around doors and windows. Use draught excluders and weather strips to seal badly fitting openings and cover the gaps created by letterboxes and keyholes. An unused fireplace can cause 70% off your home heating to be wasted, drawn up through the chimney. A lit fire, which relies on air drawn from the room, can account for 90% heat loss. Arrange for your chimney to be sealed to cut out draughts and a wasteful loss of heat.
See the Light
Make the most of natural lighting by turning on interior lights only when you really need to. Paint window reveals and dark corners white or complementary brighter shades to reflect light back into the room. Pale curtains, carpets and upholstery can all serve to brighten up an otherwise dull room. Close curtains at night to keep heat in but open them again first thing in the morning to let the heat of the sun in, warming the room.
When it is time to change light bulbs choose energy efficient replacements. Halogen and LED equivalents have a much longer life span while reducing valuable energy consumption. Choose the power rating more suitable for the room, according to shape, size and ambience, counteracting the availability of natural light.
Turning off the lights when you leave the room, another well-worn command from childhood, continues to make sense in the drive for sustainable living. Outdoor lighting can be charged by solar energy and controlled by timers or motion sensors.
Heat of the Kitchen
The kitchen is a busy hub, with constant activity and a rampant consumer of heat energy. When cooking, use lids on your pots and pans to keep in the heat and reduce condensation. Use stacking steamers or a pressure cooker for efficient use of energy. Always use the ring that fits the size of your pan. When your food is nearly cooked, turn off the rings or oven and use the ambient heat to finish cooking your food.
Boiling a full kettle for one cup of tea is wasteful. Use the measuring scale on the side to estimate how much hot water you may need, ensuring that you cover the heating element.
Never leave the fridge door open after you have used it. For every 15 seconds the door is open it takes 45 minutes for the fridge to cool down to its original temperature.
Warm or hot food shouldn’t be put straight into the fridge or freezer, allow it to settle at room temperature before putting it away. The fridge or freezer will need to use more energy to cool it down. Thawing food in the fridge is better for keeping your food safe to eat and keeps the fridge cool.
Set the temperature control on your fridge for 2–3°C for the best performance. This keeps your food safe to eat, avoids freezing and prevents spoiling of fruit and veg. The freezer should be set to -15°C.
Like any household appliance, check regularly that your fridge and freezer are still working efficiently, cleaning door seals and clearing anything that may be blocking the cooling grills at the back. Defrost the inside of your freezer at least every 6 months to keep it in shape.
Energy saving at home takes the pressure off when the bills arrive but also goes a long towards adjusting your carbon footprint. Turn off a few lights, close some doors and keep track of how you use energy, before long you will be in control of your energy consumption and well on the way to a sustainable lifestyle.