Save money and the Planet


As the cost of energy continues to soar, I began looking into ways that I could save some money, and found that actually these cost saving ideas are also good for the planet. Every little saving on energy will contribute positively to the problem of Global Warming, so by trying to save money you’ll be doing a good thing too. 

The cost of energy is very much in the news at the moment, and looks set to only get worse in the months ahead. I’m sure that some of us have already struggled, and my last energy bill has made me stop and think a bit. It had gone up £100 in a month, so a significant amount. 

I’ve been aware for many years that there are things we can do to save on energy but fortunately it’s never been a major issue for us as a household, but this latest increase has prompted me to seek ways to save money.

I’ve googled a few websites for ideas, so I don’t claim to be an expert but did find a couple of ideas I hadn’t heard before. Being the age that I am, I can remember the energy crisis of the seventies when we had to use candles for light after dark and a 3 day week was introduced so that workers only worked for 3 days to conserve energy (the miners were on strike so coal was scarce, and most electricity at the time was produced by coal burning power stations). So I do have some firsthand experience of having to save energy. 

Some of these suggestions may not be possible for you, and some you may already be doing, but I thought if I include as many as possible you may find something you can use. So apologies if the list sounds obvious, but just pick out anything that works for you. And share your tips if I haven’t covered them. 

This may not be relevant due to the recent heatwave, but turn your thermostat down. Apparently for each degree you cut the thermostat down by, bills can be cut by about 4%, which is about £65 for a typical home. You probably won’t notice a 1 degree cut in temperature, and combined with adding a layer of clothing, you may be able to cut a couple more degrees. Only have your heating on when required - don’t be tempted to leave it on low all day, this will increase your consumption. 

There are now water saving shower heads available, which may be free to some households, these use less water and therefore less water needs to be heated, saving costs. 

LED light bulbs can use around half the energy of traditional bulbs, so if you haven’t yet made the switch, it’s time you did. Yes, the outlay may cost a bit but the bulbs last longer, use less energy and you should get your money back quite quickly. Have a look at The Energy Saving Trust for more information. 

If your room is draughty, use draught excluders at the bottom of doors and make sure your windows are efficient. By reducing the amount of heat loss you’ll feel warmer and again, save on energy costs.

By reducing the amount of time you spend in the shower, you can save money. I read that cutting your shower time down by 1 minute you could save £75 a year in energy costs- and if you’re on a water meter even more, maybe £100 in water bills. You could save further on water and energy by turning the shower off while you lather and then back on to rinse - a bit of a faff but it would make a difference. 

When washing clothes, make sure the machine is full - it costs the same for half a load as it does a full one. And there’s no need to wash hotter than 30 degrees and cost yourself money. If possible, use nature to dry your clothes - hang them out on the line rather than use the tumble dryer. 

When making hot drinks, think about only filling the kettle to the level needed for the number of cups you’re making. Overfilling the kettle takes longer and therefore uses more energy. 

Depending on the age of your TV or other devices, leaving them on standby could cost money; the older the device, the more likely this is. Modern units are made to certain standards and don’t use much power in standby mode - but any saving is worthwhile for you and the planet.

If you haven’t got thermostatic radiator valves, consider changing them so that you only heat the room you’re in. You can set them on low to keep the chill off the other rooms and also the damp, but no need to have them high. This could save up to 6% a year (£85). You can fit heat deflectors behind the radiators so that the heat emanating from the back doesn’t go straight through the wall.

Use “eco” modes on appliances whenever possible.

In the same way you should fill your washing machine before running it, do the same with the dishwasher if you have one.

Microwave ovens use less energy than ovens so use it if you can. You should have the option to turn down the temperature of the hot water in your house; doing this will of course save energy and you won’t notice the difference of a couple of degrees reduction.

Make sure your hot water cylinder is insulated. If not, you’ll be losing heat so put a jacket around it - you could save about £40 a year.

If your radiators don’t seem as efficient as they should, bleed them regularly. Releasing the trapped air will reduce your energy consumption.

Have a look at the brightness setting on your TV - this can be altered from the factory setting which is usually quite high. Reducing the brightness can save energy. 

Defrost your fridge and freezer regularly, they’ll work more energy efficiently. Also, a full fridge or freezer uses less energy so stay stocked up. If you can’t do this, put an empty box in to fill the spaces.

Make sure your loft insulation is topped up to the recommended 300mm, this will retain the heat in your house. If you’ve not got cavity wall insulation, consider getting this done, again it helps to retain heat.

Don’t leave the tap running while you’re cleaning your teeth. 

Apparently if your light bulbs are dusty this can dim the brightness; this may encourage you to turn another lamp on, using more energy. Dust the bulbs regularly to keep the lights brighter.

Likewise if your windows are dirty this can block up to 10% of natural sunlight - keeping them clean allows more sun through and therefore more heat - basically helping to heat your house for you.

Leaving lights on when you leave a room is a significant waste of energy and your money. Turn them off if you can. 

When charging your phone, as soon as it’s fully charged turn the charger off. Leaving it plugged in when it’s fully charged is an unnecessary waste of power.

Other money saving tips :-

I read that there are toilet cistern bags that you can put in the cistern to reduce the amount of water used to flush the toilet. This saves water, so if you are on a water meter you’ll save money. (I remember as a kid when we had a drought in the summer and hose pipes were banned, we were being encouraged to save water in several ways - my Dad put a house brick in our cistern which did the same thing as the bag mentioned above). Not only does this save money it saves water and therefore the environment. 

You know when you want a drink of water and you go to the sink, turn the tap on and pour gallons of water straight down the sink waiting for it to go cold? What a waste of water! Think about collecting in jars or watering cans and use it to water the garden or to fill the bird bath. 

Make sure your car’s tyre pressures are correct, and remove any unnecessary weight from the car - both will help your fuel consumption. Try to plan the use of your car more efficiently. Instead of making multiple trips, write a list of the errands you need to do and try and do them all in one trip, using less fuel.

I’ve covered this before - car sharing. If possible, take it in turns with work colleagues to reduce both your costs.

Use shopping discount vouchers - there are several websites that offer discounts on a whole range of products, you may find you can make a decent saving by having a look round before you buy.

There are many more ways to save money; it depends on how much you need to save as to how much effort you put into it. I suggest you choose the things that take the least amount of effort for the maximum savings. I appreciate everyone will be different and will choose their own way of saving money - but think about this:- whatever you choose will probably have a positive environmental effect on the planet as well as your pocket, and that’s got to be a good thing, right?