Last updated 17th September 2020
As technology and industry has developed and advanced over the past few decades, so has the realisation that there are significant issues surrounding the way we use energy and fuels. Not only are we consuming finite resources at a fast rate, but the world is also damaging the environment in irreversible ways that will only further contribute to economic issues.
As a society, we must take action immediately to protect and defend our planet and its resources, ensuring that our future generations don’t suffer as a result of our actions, and a great way to do this is to conserve more energy and create a more sustainable home.
In this article, we’re going to discuss and explain different ways in which you can make your home more sustainable and how to conserve more energy. What may seem like a little change can have a significant impact over a long period of time, so any small changes you can make will make a world of difference. In this article, we’ll give you some home energy saving tips, power efficiency guides and a guide on making your home more sustainable.
The average home uses around 14 electrical appliances, including laptops and TV’s, but we use around the same amount of energy as we did in 1990. This tells us that our electrical appliances are already becoming more energy efficient as manufacturers become keener to address global energy consumption issues. However, there are many other ways we can increase our energy efficiency, reducing our carbon footprint and also saving ourselves some money on utility bills. Here’s how we can save energy at home.
Lights consume more energy than you’re likely to believe over the year, but you can also save a substantial amount of money and energy by changing your lighting habits. Leaving your lights on in rooms that you’re not using is a waste of energy and money, and you get nothing back as a benefit. The average household could save £15 per year by simply switching the lights off in rooms not in use. It may not sound like an incredible amount, but over the course of years it can provide a wonderful saving. Additionally, all of this wasted energy builds up across the population, attributing to a massive amount of wasted energy.
By cooking quick meals, or downsizing the equipment you use, you can really help with energy conservation. The longer your cooking appliances are working, the more energy they use meaning meals that are quick to cook become the most energy efficient. Slow cooking a piece of pork over 12 hours may make it taste fractionally better, but it’s very costly in terms of energy consumption. Similarly, using your microwave to defrost food is another expensive use when the same could have been achieved without using any electrical appliances at all.
Another key to conserving energy while cooking is to use equipment appropriate to what you’re cooking. If you only need to cook a single serving of rice, use a small amount of water and a small pan. By using only what you need and minimising waste, you’ll be contributing to better conservations efforts.
Most people are wasting much more money and energy on their heating each year, not by using it, but by misusing it. A lot of people turn the heat up to the maximum for a short period of time, then turning it down or off once their home becomes too warm. It’s much more economically sound to turn it up to a lower temperature, for a longer period, allowing a comfortable temperature in your home without the need for your boiler to burn too much unnecessary gas or use too much electricity.
In fact, by lowering your thermostat by a single degree you could save £75 per year. Take some time to read the instructions with your heating system to understand how it works and use it properly. It will save you money and help contribute to better uses of our natural resources.
The eco settings on your white good appliances will reduce the amount of energy used by the machine while also achieving a similar result. For example, a washing machine will wash your clothes for slightly less time and at a reduced temperature to consume less energy in its task. The eco setting button will be found on most modern appliances, allowing you to reduce your energy consumption throughout every task. It’s unlikely that you’ll see any difference in the result.
By law, all appliances sold must have a clear energy rating on them which illustrates how much energy they use and where they rank in conjunction with others on the market. Not only does this show you how environmentally friendly they are, but also how much they will cost to run. They also have a grading system ranging from A+++ to D, with A+++ being the best rated for the lowest energy consumption.
A lot of water and energy is lost by washing dishes manually. Now, a lot of this wastage can be stopped through the utilisation of a dishwasher which regulates the temperature and the amount of water needed to clean your dishes. However, if you don’t have a dishwasher, you can still reduce the amount of wastage by reusing glasses and cups. If you’re the only person using a glass, keep it to one side and use it throughout the day instead of taking a fresh glass or cup each time. It will also save you a considerable amount of time in chores!
Everyone loves a nice relaxing bath after a long day of work or of running errands. However, it does prove very costly to water conservation efforts. A single bath will take 70 gallons of hot, freshwater to fill, when instead you could take a five-minute shower that uses only 20 gallons. A significant saving of 50 gallons of water, per was and per person. In a standard family of 4 or 5, this is a mammoth saving.
Making a conscious effort to use less water to cut down wastage and unnecessary spending accounts for 50% of improving our impact on the environment. The other half is to create a more sustainable living in our homes, removing the need for a lot of energy consuming sources. Creating a more sustainable home or an eco-home can be achieved through several different methods, and we’ll break them down in more detail below.
Water conservation opportunities can be found all over your home in a variety of ways, many of which were discussed in the energy conservation section earlier in this article. Considering water conservation in the sense of making your home more sustainable, look at each room in turn and think about how you can conserve water by wasting as little as possible. For example, in your bathroom switch your conventional showerhead with a low flow showerhead that increases the pressure while using much less water, you can also install the same devices on taps throughout your home. You can even swap your toilet for a low flow toilet. There are chances to reduce your water consumption everywhere you look in your home, so consistently question if you could be doing more to save water.
You can also save water for reuse. Many people collect rainwater in large, purpose-built barrels in their garden or yard to be used for washing cars or watering plants and gardens. These barrels can be purchased from any DIY store and are very inexpensive.
The escape of the heat in your home creates a requirement for your appliances to generate more heat, therefore consuming more energy, whether through gas or electricity. If you ensure that your home is properly insulated, you’ll be surprised just how warm it remains without the need for any hear sources. Heat escapes primarily through the roof of your home, so by ensuring your loft insulation is perfectly intact and in a good condition, you can save much more warmth. Secondly, check for any parts of your home where heat could escape, whether through damaged insulation, draughts from under doors or windows. A properly insulated house will be well on its way to becoming an eco-house.
Another way to save money and energy with your lighting is to replace all of your current lightbulbs with LED bulbs. They use less energy, shine just as a bright and tend to last much longer in any regard than basic lightbulbs. You could save £40 per year by replacing your bulbs, another good saving that adds up over the years. Much like white good appliances, lightbulbs with have ratings on them to show how bright they are, how much warmth they generate and how much energy they use.
As we mentioned before, water saving showerheads and taps are an excellent option for water conservation and creating a more sustainable home. These attachments are extremely inexpensive, costing around £5-£20 each depending on the style or size you need. These fixings reduce the amount of space in the attachment, therefore using less water to create the same pressure and effectiveness. These fixings are a real ‘no-brainer’ when it comes to sustainability and it’s unlikely that you’ll notice a difference between a water-saving showerhead and a conventional one.
Solar panels are another investment that will actually go on to save you money in the long-term and some people even make money from excess energy they generate. Solar panels are placed on the roof of your home and collect sunlight, turning this energy into electricity to use around your home. Overall it costs around £6,000 for a full solar panel system but will save you between £160-£300 per year on electricity depending on the size of your home. Many government schemes will help out with the purchase of the solar panel system, offering grants and significant discounts when purchasing a system. Solar panels are an investment, but a worthy one that will reap many benefits over the years.
Draughts and air leaks from doors and windows cause a lot of heating issues within a home. If your windows and doors are allowing cold air into your home, you’re probably spending more than you need to on heating, consuming more energy as a result. Cheap solutions can be found for these problems with extra insulation available around window seals and draught excluders available for your doors. This will help to keep heat in the rooms around your home without competing with cold air from outside, saving you money on your bills and burning less energy.
Recycling has become more prevalent in recent times, with bins on the streets offering up different sections for different materials, encouraging everyone to recycle at all points. You can take this same approach in your own home with a similar sectioning bin. They can be purchased from £20-£80 depending on what size and style you want, and they are great ways to recycle without even thinking too much about it. In 2018 it was discovered that only 45% of household waste was recycled, while a much higher percentage was possible if people had made an effort.
Mahatma Gandhi once said “Be the change you wish to see”, and this has never been truer. Our world is suffering with rapidly increasing emissions, a rising sea level and uncontrollable climate change. If we continue in the same vein, the world will be a miserable place for our grandchildren and the generations that follow them. By making small changes around the home from cooking more sensibly, to washing clothes in an eco-mode and wasting less water, we can help instead of hinder the efforts to save the planet. Not everyone has the resources to install solar panels on their roof, but we can all shower instead of taking a bath and turn the lights off when we aren’t using them. Small changes have a big impact, even if it doesn’t seem so at the time.