30 Ways to Save Energy and the Planet
As if the climate crisis wasn’t enough to deal with, we’re now facing an energy crisis, with gas, electricity and oil prices rising steeply. With winter coming and the prospect of expensive energy bills, now is the time to find ways to reduce your household emissions, thus saving money and helping the planet. We’ve put together this list of things you can do to save energy in your home.
1. Layer up – we make no apologies for stating the obvious here; in cold weather wearing more clothes will make you warmer and reduce the need to crank up the central heating. Wear a vest, long socks, a thick jumper (or two!), slippers – whatever you feel warm and comfortable in.
2. Turn down your thermostat – again, another very obvious tip, but turning down your thermostat by a degree or two can make a huge difference to your heating bills. If you’re able to comfortably sit around in shorts and T-shirt in December, your thermostat is set too high!
3. Fit thermostatic valves on your radiators – being able to control the temperature of each individual radiator can really reduce your heating bills. Use your thermostatic valves to turn off radiators in rooms when you’re not using them (or set them to a low temperature). For example, you could put your bedroom radiator on low for a couple of hours before bedtime.
4. Use a timer – use a programable timer to heat your home only when you need to; it’s a myth that leaving the heating on low all day uses less energy. You can even get smart thermostats that you can control with an app when you’re away from home.
5. Don’t put furniture in front of a radiator – if you can possibly avoid it, avoid putting a sofa or other large piece of furniture in front of a radiator, as it will absorb the heat and result in you needing to use more energy to get your room to the desired temperature.
6. Don’t hang stuff on radiators – hanging clothes to dry on radiators makes them have to work harder and stops the heat circulating freely. If possible, hang stuff outside to dry as much as possible and use a clothes horse or heated drier rack to finish them off rather than using a tumble drier.
7. Develop green laundry habits – washing clothes at a lower temperature and spin speed, doing a full load and generally washing your clothes less often can slash your electricity bill. See Don’t Get in a Spin for more tips.
8. Turn your water thermostat down – apparently you could save around £30 a year simply by switching your water thermostat from 65 to 60 degrees, Very hot water is inefficient as you have to use more cold water to cool down water you’ve spent money heating. A word of warning though; don’t set your thermostat below 60 degrees as this temperature is needed to kill bacteria associated with Legionnaires’ Disease.
9. Close your curtains – use your curtains or blinds properly to keep as much heat in your rooms as possible. Close them at dusk and open them when you get up in the morning.
10. Block your chimney – stop heat escaping from an unused fireplace by using an old pillow or old bubble wrap in a bin bag to block off the chimney.
11. Keep doors closed – shutting doors to keep the heat in the room you’re using is an incredibly easy way to keep warm and stop cold draughts.
12. Leave your oven door open – if you’ve been using the oven, leaving the door open afterwards allows the residual heat to circulate and warm your kitchen.
13. Hoover less – this is one for anyone who dislikes housework! Hoovering only when necessary – such as when you’re expecting visitors – rather than on a regular basis, reduces your electricity consumption and saves loads of time as well.
14. Defrost your freezer – it’s not my favourite chore, but defrosting your freezer to prevent frost build up can apparently save £100-£200 a year. If your freezer is iced up the motor has to work harder and uses more electricity. You can also reduce how much ice builds up by keeping your freezer door closed as much as possible.
15. Keep your freezer full – if your freezer has empty space, it has to work harder to cool down the warm air that gets in each time you open the door. Check out Your Freezer is Your Friend for more tips on getting the best out of your freezer.
16. Don’t keep stuff on top of your fridge – this is something I’m guilty of, as the space on top of our fridge is really handy for storing things, but apparently, it’s not very green as it means your fridge has to use more energy to keep cool.
17. Dust the coils at the back of your fridge – this is another thing I haven’t got round to doing for a while, but according to Friends of the Earth, dusting the condenser coils at the back of your fridge can increase its efficiency by an impressive 30%.
18. Use draught excluders – you can buy padded tape to stick around door frames to stop draughts; or make your own “sausage dog” or “snake” to cover draughty gaps at the bottom of doors to stop heat escaping.
19. Skip your dishwasher’s drying cycle – apparently opening the dishwasher door to let your dishes air dry rather than using the drying function can cut your dishwasher’s energy use by up to half!
20. Use a microwave to reheat food – microwaves are much more efficient than ovens and can save you loads of energy (and time!) when reheating meals.
21. Use lids – when cooking on the hob, using lids on your pans stops heat escaping into the air and will help your food cook quicker.
22. Batch cook and meal plan – by planning your meals and batch cooking, you can make more efficient use of your oven by filling it and cooking several things at the same time. This also helps reduce food waste.
23. Don’t overfill your kettle – another time-saving tip! Only filling your kettle with the amount of water you need is an easy way to save energy several times a day.
24. Turn stuff off – try to get in the habit of turning electrical appliances at the wall when not in use – things like microwaves, TVs, routers, computers, printers will all be using energy even in standby mode.
25. Don’t leave things on charge overnight – it’s a waste of electricity to leave things like phones and laptops on charge once the battery is full. Unplugging the charger once the battery is full can help the battery last longer too.
26. Turn down the brightness on your TV – increased brightness and contrast on a TV increases its power consumption and is not usually necessary in the average living room.
27. Wash less – spend less money on heating your hot water by taking shorter showers – or share your bath water! Or simply wash less often… something that’s apparently become more common in the era of Covid and home working!
28. Turn off your lights – another easy win to reduce your energy use is to get in the habit of switching lights off when no one’s using a room, hallway or landing. And when the current bulbs break, replace them with LED bulbs.
29. Insulate – this is a bigger, more expensive step than our other tips. However, if you can afford it, top up the insulation in your loft, replace single glazed windows with double glazing and get cavity wall insulation if it’s suitable for your home.
30. Spread the word – encourage members of your household, friends and co-workers to take these steps.
Side note – Unfortunately, the government scrapped the Green Homes Grant that was designed to give financial help to homeowners to increase the energy efficiency of their homes. Nearly 15% of the UK’s emissions come from heating homes and you would think that tackling this would be a priority for a government that is hosting COP26 and claims to have a world-leading net zero strategy. In light of the IPCC’s Code Red for humanity warning, Insulate Britain’s demands are totally reasonable and necessary (1. That the UK government immediately promises to fully fund and take responsibility for the insulation of all social housing in Britain by 2025; and 2. That the UK government immediately promises to produce within four months a legally binding national plan to fully fund and take responsibility for the full low-energy and low-carbon whole-house retrofit , with no externalised costs, of all homes in Britain by 2030 as part of a just transition to full decarbonisation of all parts of society and the economy).
We hope that these tips can help you cut your energy bills. For more inspiration for living a greener lifestyle, check out our Money-Saving Eco-Actions and if you have any of your own energy saving tips, please share them with us in the comments below.