Has your stomach ever dropped after opening an electricity or gas bill? Not only does it mean digging deep to pay for it, it means looking at where and how it happened. Is it the heating? Do we leave lights on? Shower too long? Whatever the reason, it's not ideal and has a more significant impact than just that on our pockets.
All forms of electricity generation affect our environment, be it on our air, water or land - so with more of a focus on energy efficiency than ever, we need to reduce our impact altogether.
Energy efficiency, in short, means the practice of minimising energy use without enduring a loss in quality. Quite often, making your house more energy-efficient can mean a hefty up-front money and time costs, especially if it means better insulation, adding solar panels or switching energy providers. But we have come up with a few easy and cheap energy-saving hacks you can use at home.
Wash your clothes in cold water
With heating water (1) being one of the most expensive things you do in your home, you can save a bundle of energy and cash using an earth-friendly, cold water detergent for your laundry needs. Nowadays, we have great options when it comes to cold washing, with results as good as a hot wash.
Wear more clothes and turn down the heat
Simple yet effective. The amount of unnecessary energy we can use to heat a house can be huge, especially if your home is poorly insulated. Thinking twice before turning the thermostat up and putting on some cozy socks and a jumper could save a lot of energy.
Turn off power sources at the wall
Even if your electronics are turned off, some can still be using energy (2). Sometimes known as "vampire devices", they keep a little bit of electricity going so they can respond more quickly to things like being turned back on. By switching them off the wall, you effectively cut off all electricity to your electronics, so they don't use any without you knowing.
Pack your fridge and freezer right
This article (3) explains how your freezer works most efficiently when packed as full as possible. If you don't have enough to fill your freezer, make some ice cubes for future use or ice packs for picnics. Your fridge, on the other hand, works best about two thirds full.
Use compact fluorescent lightbulbs
One light bulb on its own won't use a lot of energy, but if we consider the number we have in each home, the total amount of energy used can be pretty astounding. According to Energy Star (4), compact fluorescent light bulbs can use up to 75% less energy.
Reduce the water usage in your toilet
Ok, so not strictly energy-related, but this one is great! To save water usage every time you flush, pop a clean bottle filled with water and a few stones to weigh it down into your cistern. This will trick the loo into thinking it has refilled the tank up to the maximum capacity after usage, reducing the amount of water used each flush.
With many more tips out there to help us conserve energy, the impact that using less can have on our world makes it worth the little bit of thought it takes to be that bit more mindful.
- Mother Earth News - Reduce Your Washing Machine Energy Use
- mnn - Should I unplug my appliances and, if so, will I save money on my electric bill?
- carbonTrack - Top 10 Tips to reduce the cost of running your fridge & freezer
- Energy Star - Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs) and Mercury