Insulate and draughtproof! – it is estimated that over 25% of energy is lost through badly-insulated buildings.
Grants are usually available for this purpose – contact a local grant-approved insulation installer or the Energy Saving Advice Service; tel 0800 512 012.
Set the heating thermostat lower and wear seasonal clothing! Lived-in rooms need not normally be heated beyond 19-21°C. Be careful not to waste energy overheating rooms not in regular use. Around 60% of a homes' total energy consumption is for heating the house.
Switch to a “green” electricity account: This is one of the most effective things you can do to save emissions from electricity generation. Although your electricity still comes from the same grid, these companies are committed to investing in renewable energy, therefore reducing the overall proportion of electricity generated from fossil fuel burning. The most highly regarded supplier is Good Energy: www.good-energy.co.uk (tel 0845 456 1640); they guarantee to buy 100% renewable energy and grow it's supply by providing a market for new generating companies and co-operatives.
Replace light bulbs with low-energy types. LED is the latest type, available in different shapes & sizes - they consume very little energy, are inexpensive (Poundland sell them!) and brighten immediately they are switched on.
Check the hot water thermostat setting – water need not be scalding - 60°C is the recommended satisfactory level. The higher the temperature, the more heat escapes.
Solar photovoltaic panels can be installed, often with a substantial grant, and have reduced greatly in cost. As well as providing your home with energy, thus reducing your electricity bill, the system exports spare energy to the grid and you are paid a feed-in tariff for all the energy generated.
The manufacture and distribution of junk mail consumes energy, not to mention emissions from landfill if it is thrown away.
Switch off televisions and computer monitors and other appliances when not in use, instead of leaving them on standby which can still consume substantial electricity. Unplug mobile phone chargers!
Fill the kettle only to the level necessary for the number of drinks needed!
Recycle waste – landfill sites give off methane, a very potent greenhouse gas. Put as much suitable waste as your council allows into the recycling bin.
Use air conditioning only in warm conditions
when ordinary ventilation is insufficient. Air conditioning
is very energy-hungry; e.g. switching it on in a car increases fuel
consumption by up to 4 miles per gallon. There is a rapidly increasing use of
air conditioning in buildings – it is often left switched on unnecessarily.
Keep a check on your fridge and freezer temperatures – if unnecessarily cold, they use much more electricity. The normal recommendation is 1 to 3°C for a fridge and minus 16 to 18°C for a freezer. Suitable “fridge thermometers” can be purchased cheaply at DIY/kitchen stores.
Take showers – save a bath as an occasional luxury!
Buy local food where possible - supermarket produce involves long distance transport by road and air.
Avoid using tumble dryers and combined washer-dryers unless no alternative. Any heat-producing appliance consumes large amounts of energy.
Travel lightly – compromise on car and plane journeys, use trains and buses where practical, try to avoid excessive commuting distances!
Cars – drive smoothly and not too fast, don’t labour the engine, keep tyres well inflated, service regularly.
Embrace electronic information – move away from surrounding yourself with paper! (back up your computer regularly).
Encourage others by example - Relatives/friends/employers-employees/contacts.
Some measures involve expenditure and can be phased in at suitable times:
Cars – choose economical models!
Fridges, freezers, washing machines and dishwashers – modern A and A* rated models can cut the energy use of older models by half. Grant-funded discounts are sometimes available.
LCD monitors and televisions – these “thin” types use only a fraction of the electricity of conventional tube types.
Boilers – condensing type are the most efficient - nowadays obligatory for new boilers. Ideally, install a CHP (combined heat and power) type which produces electricity as well as heat - e.g. from Helec Ltd www.helec.co.uk.
In all its forms – all products and utilities require energy for their manufacture and distribution, whether food & drink, hardware, domestic and electronic goods, paper, fuel, the water supply, etc, etc.
Some of the energy-indulgent activities of our consumer society are more difficult for most of us to influence, such as over-packaging, fashion-created obsolescence, food and drink wasted by retailers, overheated offices/department stores/public buildings, excessive commercial use of vehicles and air transport, banks of TVs permanently powered up in electrical stores, hundreds of bulbs lit in lighting sales departments, etc, etc. However, we can often politely express our concern to the appropriate management.
Any sensible energy-saving suggestions will be considered for addition to the above list. E-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org