The cost of living is rising and sadly, most of our salaries are staying the same. When it’s getting harder and harder to make ends meet at the end of every month, cutting spending by any means necessary is a must. But this doesn’t mean that your green credentials have to go out the window: quite the opposite, in fact. Often taking up some eco-friendly behaviours can actually go hand-in-hand with reducing your household bills. If you follow these simple tips as well as all the more obvious ones such as making a meal plan and easting leftovers so you don’t waste food, using draught excluders to keep your house warm, and turning the thermostat (and hot water temperature on your boiler) down by a few degrees, you’ll be well on your way to saving money at the same time as saving the planet.
Are you too cool?
Get a fridge thermometer; you can get them really cheap online, and use it to test the temperatures of your fridge and freezer. A fridge should be between 37-40F – any higher and you run the risk of bacteria breeding – and a freezer should be running a temperature of 0-5F. Many of us have them set lower than this in the belief that it’ll help the food keep for longer, but this isn’t the case, and in fact keeping them just 10 degrees colder than necessary can boost your energy consumption by up to 25 percent.
Make the switch to renewable energy
Switching to renewable energy is a fantastic environmental choice for obvious reasons, and whilst installing solar panels – or other renewable energy generators – to your home can be a big initial cost, in the long run it’s something that can save you large amounts of money on your electricity bill. If you’re generating your own power, you won’t have to pay a big energy company to generate it for you, and can sometimes even sell unused electricity back to them. You could cut your energy bills down even further by switching to an electric cooker and electric radiators – so the only thing you’re using gas for is hot water.
Put a brick in it!
This one’s a classic, and something I firmly believe everyone should do. It’s as simple as getting an unused brick and sticking it in your toilet cistern so you use less water per flush – approximately half a gallon less, in fact. If you don’t have a spare brick lying around, lots of water companies will give you a free “water saver” which serves the same purpose, and if they don’t, fill an unused plastic bottle with sand or gravel, and it’ll do the same job.
Lots of companies – phone providers and catalogues/credit card companies as well as energy providers – will charge you a sneaky couple of pounds for the privilege of a paper bill. By canceling all your paper bills and opting for E-statements instead, you could save a decent amount of money each month, reduce waste and not have to worry about where to store/shred sensitive documents! Plus it could make visits from the post-man a whole lot more pleasant. And whilst we’re on the subject – although not directly related to the environment – lots of companies also add on a surcharge for not paying by Direct Debit, so switching to that could save you even more.
Give yourself a break!
Make life a bit easier on yourself by using the dishwasher. It doesn’t sound very green, but as long as you’re filling it up to capacity, it’s far more energy efficient than doing the same dishes by hand would be. If you have a really energy efficient dishwasher, it’ll use just 4 gallons of water per load – compared with the 24 it would take you to wash by hand – saving you approximately 5,000 gallons of water, £25 (US$41) and 230 hours of time each year.
Article by Liberty-Belle Howard, a UK blogger with an interest in climate change and green issues; appearing courtesy EnergyRefuge.