With 2014 almost upon us it is time to think of some New Years resolutions. In the following article we have come up with a few ideas to get you started. We have split our energy efficiency resolutions into 1, 2 and 3 – with the ‘1’ category being the easy ones which we should all implement as a matter of course, 2 needing slightly more effort, while ‘3’ is a bit more difficult to achieve, and may require a bit of an initial financial outlay. So have a read and let us know what you think.
1) Be more efficient with your lighting
- Easy one to start – Make sure everyone in the home turns off lights when they leave a room (including the kids!)
- Install motion sensor outdoor lighting – traditionally these bulbs are very high wattage – so leaving them on unnecessarily is very expensive!
- Change all your bulbs to LED light bulbs (these use 90% less energy than either halogen or incandescent bulbs) which will typically pay for themselves in under 2 years
2) Use Electrical appliances more efficiently
- Unplug appliances when they are fully charged
- Charge things at night if you are on dual-tariff (Economy 7)
- Buy an energy monitor to find out which of your appliances guzzle energy and plan to replace them over the coming year with A++ energy rated varieties.
- BONUS – Charge your iPad and phone at work (if possible!) – but don’t blame us if you get caught!
3) Driving – get the most out of your mileage
- Don’t drive when your journey is under two miles – not only will save on your fuel bill but you’ll start working off any excess Christmas pounds that may have resulted from the festivities!
- Car-pool- check out some car pooling websites, if you have colleagues that live locally – share the journey into work.
- 2014 is the right time to invest in a new car – go hybrid if you are living in a city – where mpg (miles per gallon) is typically very low. If you only drive around the city, consider a 100% electric vehicle.
- BONUS – we have tonnes of hypermiling tips here (maximise the distance you can travel with each litre of fuel) – you can save an absolute packet on fuel costs.
4) Save money in the Kitchen
- Make sure you use your dishwasher – these typically use less water than washing by hand, but do ensure you are filling them; half loads use the same amount of energy as a full load.
- Cook in a microwave when possible- i.e. poach fish/steam vegetables, it only takes a fraction of the time to cook as well as saving on the time needed to pre-heat ovens.
- Your fridge-freezer accounts for 7% of your energy bill – if yours is over 10 years old, go out and buy a new one for 2014. The energy savings will likely pay for it very rapidly. Additionally, fridge-freezers are most efficient when they are fully filled – make sure you buy one that is the right size; there is no point oversizing as it will cost you more to run.
5) Insulate your home in 2014
- Make sure you have a minimum of 270 mm of wool insulation in your loft. It is the one energy efficiency measure that costs very little, but has a really quick payback (in as little as 2 years).
- Draught proof your front door with an Ecoflap and draught proofing brushes.
- Remember to place a chimney balloon up unused chimneys (Link to shop)
6) Aim to use less water in the bathroom each day
- Turn off tap while brushing teeth and fill a sink to shave.
- If you are on a water meter get a dual system toilet flush
- Buy an energy efficient shower head – not only will you be using less water but you will have to heat less water too – which will save on your gas bill.
7) Be smarter with your heating
- Remember to wear jumpers in winters – if you area wearing shorts & t-shirt reading this your heating is up too high (unless you are on a beach somewhere….)
- Turn your thermostat down by one degree (this on average can save £50/degree/year)
- Is it time to upgrade your boiler– Check out if you qualify for a grant for this with one of our green deal assessments.
8) Turn to your garden
- Turn your old organic waste into compost – things like potato peelings or tea bags. Not only will this reduce you weekly waste but it also provides a great way of making a natural fertiliser or mulch to be used in the garden.
- Unfortunately despite the seemingly continual rain in the UK, we never quite know when the water companies will try to ‘pull a hose pipe ban’. Therefore install a water butt under your main guttering down pipe – you can then use this free source of water during dry spells and for any indoor plants
- Try growing your own vegetables, be it in your garden or down at a local allotment. Not only is this really rewarding, but home grown veg taste great – this might require all sorts of kit depending on your ambitions, however a simple grow bag from your local garden centre will allow you to grow tomatoes in very little space!
9) Create your own electricity or hot water
Now we are cheating a little bit here, because these technologies unfortunately all cost money – however you are actually paid physical cash to produce electricity through the Feed-in tariff and hot water via the Renewable Heat incentive (as of end of march 2014), therefore you will actually make money from these so we thought we would include them!
- Everyone has a mobile phone now – so why not power it from a solar charger instead of plugging it in to the power socket – a much more sustainable option!
- Install a solar PV array on your roof. A 3.5kW system (14 panels) will set you back about £6,000 but will pay back within 7 years and then go on providing you with free electricity and a £500 payment each year (this is an approximation) for the next 13 years – you get the Feed in tariff for a total of 20 years.
- Install an Air or Ground source heat pump to replace your existing heating system, these systems don’t come cheap, but the renewable heat incentive is paid over 7 years and will more than cover the install costs. In addition these little beauties are incredibly energy efficient – turning one unit of electricity in 3.5 – 5 units of useful heat. Compare that with an electric radiator, which turns one unit of electricity into one unit of useful heat. Heat pumps are the future!
10) Finally – 2014, the year of sharing!
- Remember we don’t need everything new, there are some great ‘sharing’ websites out there- like- StreetBank – It is a great way to get to know your community, reduce waste and save you space.
- You can potentially sign up as your community’s sustainability champion! Helping drive community events to leading campaigns to deliver low energy solutions to your area. Either speak with your local authority or contact the Department for Energy & Climate Change for more details.
- The final thing you could do is share this blog with your friends and family, to help them save on their bills too. If you could click on one of the social media icons below it will post it to the relevant places, and in doing so you will be helping us too – so thank you in advance!
Happy New Year everyone – let’s make 2014 a great year!