At home

If you reduce the amount of energy and water that you use in the home, not only will you cut your bills, but you will be playing your part in reducing your impact on climate change and water shortage as well. The following tips will enable you to reduce your usage and save money.

Electricity

  • Around 8% of our electricity consumption at home is brought about by lighting devices. Changing to electricity-saving bulbs can save you 55% of it. They last longer and will cut the cost of your electricity bill. During the day, make sure to allow the sunlight illuminate your house, this will also considerably cut the cost of your electricity bill.
  • When replacing or buying new appliances and household devices, consistently buy energy-efficient appliances and devices. These reduce the energy consumption by 1’000 kWh. Look out for appliances with the Energy Saving Recommended logo (seehttp://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/energy_saving_products). Buying energy-efficient refrigerators, for example, can reduce the electricity consumption by 73%.
  • Adjust the temperature of your refrigerator by one degree higher to 5-7°C (check with thermometer). That reduces consumption by 100 kWh.
  • Place your chest freezer in a cold room and adjust the temperature to -18°C. Doing that can save you an average of 100kWh of electricity. Place your fridge in a ventilated area as well, away from heat sources.
  • Check and clean refrigerator coils regularly, especially during the summer. Dirty coils on the back or bottom of the refrigerator can cause it to work harder than necessary. See appliance owner’s manual for maintenance instructions.
  • Defrost your freezer regularly. Freezers with adhering ice use a lot of energy.
  • Fill up your refrigerator as much as possible. This way less cold air escapes when opening it, thus consuming less energy. Also limit the amount you open your refrigerator.
  • Turn off your electrical appliances completely (DVDs, mobile phone chargers, TVs, computers, stereos) when not in use. Avoiding leaving your appliances on stand-by reduces electricity consumption by 500 kWh. Alone a hi-fi system on stand-by consumes 88 kWh per year. Plugged-in chargers for mobile phones also use electricity even when the phone isn’t attached! Alternatively, you can also purchase a plug with an ‘interrupter’ on/off switch, which allows you to leave the appliance plugged in, but switch off any power use.
  • Avoid long showers, especially with electric showers as this will contribute to lowering the cost of your electricity bills! This can be done specifically by turning off the shower, when applying soaps, shampoos or conditioners. Try to regulate the water flow so that it’s not on full blast.
  • Plug in your electric toothbrush only when the battery really needs to be recharged.
  • Get a free Home Energy Check from The Energy Saving Trust.

Water

  • Pre-washing your dishes with hot water is unnecessary. Fill your dishwasher and chose the energy-saving program. This reduces electricity consumption by around 600 kWh and water consumption by about 8000 liters. Washing the dishes by hand uses more energy than by using the dishwasher!
  • Water-saving aerators on your faucets can help you save 40% of water. Install low-flow shower heads. When buying new products, chose water-saving appliances.
  • Opt for a shower rather than a bath. Showers use around 50 liters of waters while baths up to 200 liters.
  • Try to wash only then when you are able to fill the washing machine for one washing. For clothes to be washed with 95°C, 60°C will suffice and 40°C for normal washing. Forego pre-washing normal laundry. Your energy consumption will hereby be reduced by around 200 kWh of electricity, 5000 liters of water and 16 kg of detergent. Try to dry your clothes in the open air. Without the use of a tumbler, you use 400 kWh less.
  • Try using soapnuts. These plant products are supposed to be just as effective in cleaning clothes, at the same time being totally natural and environmental-friendly.
  • You don’t need a fabric conditioner for the washing machine. They get your skin in contact with chemical substances and additionally burden the environment.
  • Don’t let the water run while brushing your teeth.


Heating and Cooking Apparatus

  • Use double-layered pans and pressure-cookers whenever possible. Dishes prepared in pans need 50% less energy than those prepared with an oven. This correct cooking behavior would save you an estimated 150 kWh of energy in a year.
  • To heat up small portions use Microwaves; they need less than half the power of a conventional oven and cook food in about one-fourth the time.
  • Use as little liquid as possible when cooking. Surplus water requires more heating; therefore, using more energy than is necessary.
  • When cooking, match the stove to the vessel. Use a small vessel on a small stove. A large stove consumes 15% more energy.
  • Check your cooking pans regularly to see if their bottoms are even. Direct contact to electric stove plates is important to avoid heat escaping unnecessarily.
  • If you cook with electricity, turn off the heat a couple of minutes before the food is done; there will still be enough heat for a while and it saves energy.
  • Use a water boiler for heating up water, instead of using the stove.
  • Use cloth napkins rather than disposable tissue paper.
  • Turn down your thermostat by just a degree and slash 10% off the energy used in heating your home.
  • Adjust the heating temperature in your sleeping room and in those rooms which are less used to between 16°C and 18°C. That will enable you to consume 100 liters less of heating oil.
  • Be sure to free heaters from curtains and furniture which might be standing in front of them. This prevents the disrupted distribution of heat.
  • Use a programmable thermostat that automatically turns off the air-conditioner or heater when you don’t need them. Or even better, don’t use any air-conditioning at all. Instead close drapes and blinds to keep out direct sunlight during hot periods.
  • Avoid using evaporative coolers or humidifiers at the same time an air-conditioner is running.
  • If really necessary, use ceiling fans. They use way less electricity than air-conditioners and the circulating air gives a cooling effect.
  • Reduce hot, outdoor air from entering the house and eliminate the loss of cooled air with weatherstripping and caulking around windows and doors. Closing those cracks in your window and door frames and improving insulation saves you up to 15% in heating and cooling costs.
  • Draw your curtains at dusk and maintain the heat in your rooms.
  • Add or improve insulation to your home.
  • A lot of energy is wasted by having a window permanently opened, for example through tilting the frame. It is wiser to open the window for a few minutes every other hour and aerate the room intensively but for just a short time.
  • When the air in the room becomes dry because of the heating system, it gives you the feeling that the room temperature is lower – and most likely you’ll go pump up the heater. That costs money and increases the CO2-emissions. Introducing some domestic plants in your rooms will help increase air humidity.
  • Turn down the hot water boiler from 80°C to 60°C. Insulating the water tank saves a lot of energy as well.

Food

Intensive food production uses vast amounts of fertilizers and pesticides that have a negative impact on water resources, soil, wildlife and human health. Food production also uses a lot of energy during the manufacturing process. Moreover, food not produced locally has to be transported, leading to further use of energy and CO2 emissions.

So when you shop:

  • Use baskets, cottonbags or other reusable bags. Avoid accumulating mounds of disposable ones. The production of plastic bags requires petroleum and consumes a considerable amount of energy. Avoiding the excess use of paperbags will save trees.
  • Buy products with less packaging. You will reduce the amount of waste going to landfill. Less packaging means less energy for production and needs less space for transport.
  • Buy seasonal products from your country; they don’t require huge amount of energy for the transport and preservation.
  • Buy organic products; they are not only safe from fertilizer and pesticides, they usually taste better as well.
  • As a guide, products from wet countries tend to have better results for the criterium water consumption in the life-cycle assessment compared to products from countries with a dry climate.
  • Drink tap water rather than bottled water whenever possible.
  • Buy only certified fish to ensure you are buying fish from sustainable sources.
  • Shift to vegetarian dishes. The production of 1 calorie of meat requires 8 times more grain than the production of 1 calorie from vegetables. Meat production also consumes around 10 times as much water!
  • Take a trip to your nearest farmers’ market to get food that is locally grown and produced.
  • Wherever it is possible, buy milk from your local farmer to reduce the amount of plastic produced. Glass milk bottles are reused 12 times on an average and milk transporters are often electric vehicles.
  • Compost your kitchen and garden waste to develop a nutrient-rich fertilizer for your plants.
  • Change to green electricity. Most likely it is a bit more costly; however, if you will follow these tips mentioned above, you will save so much energy that you’ll be way better off with your energy costs anyhow!

More Points

  • Opt for environmentally-friendly, biodegradable cleaning products.
  • Always use reusable mugs, lunch containers, batteries, pens, razors, etc.
  • Use water-based paints. Look for paints labeled zero-VOC.
  • Paint with a brush, not a sprayer.
  • Recycle paper, plastics, glass and metals.
  • Buy recycled products whenever possible, such as recycled paper and toilet paper.
  • Try to use electric appliances with disposable batteries and all sort of disposable gadgets as seldom as possible. Solar-powered chargers are recommendable.
  • Don’t upgrade your mobile phone and gadgets every year; wait until they are dysfunctional.
  • Walk or cycle for short trips and use a push lawnmower; this also helps you to get fit.

Get a free Home Energy Check from The Energy Saving Trust

Profile photo of Andrea Schaller

Andrea Schaller

Founder and editor Go4Ges

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