Energy Saving – Watch your water this summer

Could it be that summer is finally here? Oh wait, we’ve just had a Bank Holiday weekend…

But that doesn’t mean we should forget about the unusually dry year we’ve had so far. With average temperatures rising year on year and the characteristic British rainfall seemingly on the retreat, it would appear the hosepipe bans of my childhood will be coming back rather soon.

What can be done around the home and garden to use your water sparingly? While water is a precious resource that we are lucky enough to have a generous supply of, it should not be wasted.

In the garden, why not invest in a water butt or two? The water collected over the course of a year will go some way to keeping your plants hydrated or your car clean should the hosepipe ban come into effect. You could also try adding a surface mulch to your beds to lock in moisture – bark chippings or pebbles will do the trick.

In the home, do you really need to spend all that time in the shower? In Australia, where hotter and drier weather puts farmers and wildlife under immense pressure to survive, 4-minute showers were promoted as a way of cutting down water usage. Do you think you could shower in four minutes? Challenge your family to see who can shower the quickest!

A few more tips:

  • keep a jug of water in the fridge and avoid running the tap to get a cold drink
  • use a watering can rather than a sprinkler for more targeting plant watering
  • turn the tap off when brushing your teeth
  • fix dripping taps
  • only use dishwashers and washing machines with a full load
  • use a bucket and sponge to wash the car, rather than the hosepipe

See what other tricks you can use in your home and garden to save water, and feel free to share them!

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Energy Saving – Harnessing the power of the sun

Solar panels are probably the best known and most recognisable renewable energy source available to homeowners. In April 2016, for the first time ever, ‘the sun provided more UK electricity from photovoltaic panels than heavily polluting coal-fired plants over a full 24-hour period’ (The Guardian), proving that the move from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources is most definitely underway.

Harnessing solar power is an accessible and unobtrusive way to utilise renewable energy in your home, and remember: solar panels don’t need direct sunlight to work! That makes them all the more appealing considering the unpredictability of the British weather, as they will still generate some electricity even on a cloudy day.

Installations are usually guaranteed for 20-25 years, and in that time it’s likely to only be the inverter that needs replacing as it is the part that is constantly working, so after the initial installation cost, maintenance is actually fairly inexpensive.

The benefits of solar power are clear: generate your own electricity to power your home, sell whatever unused electricity you generate back to the grid, and reduce your carbon footprint.

types-of-solar-panel

Source: The Green Age

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Energy Saving – Keep the cold out this winter!

It’s that time of year when the heating goes on and the woolly jumpers come out, thermostats are cranked up and we swing between Arctic frost and tropical heat. It’s also when our energy bills start creeping up, but by using your heating controls more efficiently you could minimise any shock bills coming your way.

Firstly, make use of the timer function rather than just turning the heating on when you need it. Keeping your home at a lower, more constant temperature will use energy more efficiently than firing it up and letting it cool down several times a day. Modern technology allows for multiple settings and you can even control everything via a smartphone.

Secondly, turning your thermostat down by just one degree could save £80-£85 on your bill and 340g-350g of carbon dioxide – double winner (Energy Saving Trust).

Finally, once your home is nice and toasty, make sure there’s nowhere for all your lovely warm air to escape. Ensure you have draught excluders around external doors, and draw the curtains when the temperature drops in the evening. You could also look into the level of insulation in your home, as a staggering 35% of heat could be lost through your walls alone, with a further 25% disappearing through the roof (The Green Age). There are many options these days to add high-performance insulation to our homes, and you’ll be reaping the benefits for many winters to come.

So, put on an extra layer, turn the thermostat down a degree, and get out the instruction manual for those heating controls!

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Energy Saving – Time for a cuppa?

We all know that shopping around for the best value energy provider could help us save £s on our energy bills over the course of a year, but there are also simple things we can do around the home to cut down on how much electricity we use in day-to-day life.

According to the Energy Saving Trust, something as simple as turning the lights off when you leave a room “will save more energy than it takes for the light to start up again, regardless of the type of light. This will save you around £13 on your annual energy bills.”

Further savings can be made by not using the standby mode on devices like TVs – switch them off at the plug and you could save around £30 a year. The same goes for phone chargers, which are still drawing a small amount of power even when your phone’s not plugged in.

A big drain on electricity is anything that uses power to create heat, such as kettles. In this land of great tea drinkers, we could be boiling the kettle an average of 24 times a week, and a lot of the time we fill it right to the top without thinking how much water we actually need. Don’t forget – a half-full 1.8-litre kettle is enough for three cups of tea. Cut down how much water you boil and you could save £7 a year (Energy Saving Trust).

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Energy Saving – Watch your washing

Daily chores – don’t we all love them? Unfortunately they’re a fact of life, but that doesn’t mean we have to change our habits entirely to save on energy.

Take the washing machine as an example – indispensable ally in the battle against the laundry basket, but also a renowned resource guzzler, accounting for 7% of your energy bill (uSwitch). Considering more European households own washing machines than cars (ellenmacarthurfoundation.org), what can we change?

There are two angles to look at it from: how hot the water is, and how often the appliance is used. Why not try the following:

  • Use a quick wash if you’re not washing anything with stains, or bedding and towels.
  • Turn the temperature down to 30ºC – as well as using around 40% less electricity, it’s kinder on your clothes.
  • Try and wait until you have a full load to wash, otherwise you’re wasting water.
  • Soak stained items before washing to give them a head start and avoid the need to wash them twice.

Don’t forget that if you mainly use a low temperature, include a hot wash once in a while to get rid of bugs and odours in your machine.

I prefer 30

beko.co.uk

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Energy Saving – The rise of LEDs

SPEND LESS are words that have captured many imaginations. The real words are USE LESS, CONSERVE MORE.

At imagineIT, we are passionate about sustainable homes and lifestyles, and are often asked how to save energy, or to provide more energy-efficient solutions. We direct everything we do to becoming sustainably smarter, starting with our energy consumption, which is a big part of everyday life.

Energy is becoming a topic that is discussed at all levels, from EU politics to telling the children to TURN THE LIGHTS OFF.

You can spend less on energy by making a few simple changes, some of which will even impress the neighbours. What could you be doing differently to use energy more efficiently?

One basic principle to remember is that anything that creates heat uses a lot of energy to do so. There are the obvious ones like boiling the kettle and using the washing machine, but did you know that inefficient light bulbs also use a lot of energy because they produce excessive heat as well as light?

Technology has come to the rescue for the lighting in your house. Just by changing your light bulbs you can improve the world by saving electricity. LED lamps last 20-25 times longer so need to be changed 20 times less often, meaning many savings, including saving money and resources as these lamps use up to 90% less energy compared to an old light bulb with the same light output (philips.co.uk).

Did you know…?

1kwh electricity

circularecology.com

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