Being green isn't all hemp knickers, saving the whale and being at one with the planet – you can save some serious dosh too.
The average UK household overspends £200 a year on energy bills and most houses create around six tonnes of carbon dioxide – the main greenhouse gas – each year.
Makes scary reading, doesn't it? We think so. Here are some tips for making your home more energy efficient:
Cool it down
Knocking a degree or so off your thermostat will cut your heating bills by 10 per cent. You'll stay cosy if you keep temperatures around 20ºC (68ºF) in living rooms and 16ºC (60ºF) in bedrooms.
Replace old for new
If your boiler's getting on a bit – we're talking 15 years old – you're missing some major savings of around 20 per cent off your fuel bills. Install a condensing boiler and make that 32 per cent and up to 40 per cent if you fit some good heating controls. Your local council may even offer grants to help you out. Why not give them a call to find out?
Retain your heat
Roofs, floors, walls and windows all benefit from a bit of draught proofing. Wall insulation is the most cost-effective way to save energy around the home – up to 33 per cent of the heat in your home is lost through the walls.
Taping polythene across your window frames is a short term alternative to double glazing. Or buy an insulation jacket for your hot water tank – at least 7.5cm thick – for around £10. It will save £10 to £15 a year. Fitting draught excluders to your doors also retains heat.
Insulating the pipes between your boiler and hot water cylinder costs around £1 per metre and will save roughly £5 a year.
Fitting a shelf above your radiator – directs warm air into the room. And placing foil behind radiators, on exterior walls, reduces the heat loss to outside.
Fit energy saving bulbs
Lighting gobbles up 10 to 15 per cent of our electricity use. If you use a particular light for four hours or more a day think giving it an energy saving makeover. It'll use around a quarter of the electricity and last up to 12 times longer. Energy efficient bulbs only cost around a fiver, but they save over £10 a year on your bill.
It's a bit obvious, but always turn the light off when you leave a room. Adjusting your curtains or blinds to let in as much light as possible during the day means you won't be tempted to reach for the light switch too early.
Don't let it go down the plughole
Washing up uses less water and much less energy than a dishwasher. Running hot water costs money – think of all that energy it takes to heat it – so make sure you stick a plug in your sink.
Turn taps off properly and repair ones that drip. A dripping tap can waste up to 1,400 litres of hot water a year.
Only filling the kettle with the amount of water you need saves loads of energy and water.
Cool it at bathtime
Baths can be warm, but not boiling. Setting the thermostat at 60°C/140°F should be just dandy for most people. Alternatively, a shower uses two-fifths of the water needed for a bath. It's quicker, easier and cheaper.
The green science of the appliance
Always look for the most energy efficient new appliances and when you get them home don't leave them on standby – we're talking TV, stereo, computer or games consoles. And for things like your iPod or phone – don't leave them filling up with juice when they're already full!
Allow hot or warm food to cool down before putting it in the fridge – and defrost your fridge regularly to keep it running efficiently and cheaply – if it tends to frost up quickly, check the door seal.
Always use a full load in your washing machine and stick to the lowest temperature possible. If you can't, bung in half. Most machines have a 'half load setting' or better still, an economy one.
Hang clothes out to dry instead of using the tumble dryer. If you do use a dryer don't load it up with really wet clothes – wring them out or spin-dry them first – it's much faster and it'll save you cash.
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