5 small tweaks for a greener (more energy efficient) lifestyle
Posted by Cindy Liu on 19 November 2012 at 9:38 am
As a member of a younger generation, I feel that I’m far more acutely aware of just how much our lifestyle choices and energy consumption affects environmental change and global warming. For me, there’s definitely enough scientific evidence to suggest that if we don’t change the way we consume energy, there will be serious consequences.
This approach to environmental issues affects nearly every aspect of my life, reflecting the magnitude of the issue. One of the main areas in which I have tried to manage my behaviour carefully is in the home. I live with six other flatmates, all with varying degrees of interest in environmental issues, and have taken on (seized!) the role of managing our energy consumption.
Though not everyone is as keen on sacrificing things purely for environmental concerns, the measures we have taken in the home also save us a considerable amount of money – something everyone can get on board with!
Tackling the problem at the root - managing our energy supplier
I punched in my postcode and how much electricity I used per year into their tool and did a quick comparison of the different electricity suppliers out there and the results looked something like this:
Note: This is what the market looks like if I were to compare my old electricity company today. These results will differ for everyone.
In the end, we opted for a tariff that saved us 0.2 tonnes of Co2 a year. Plus, the new company emails me a bill that give me information our household carbon footprint which is a nice touch. For someone who cares about the impact we’re having on the Earth and believes that small, incremental changes on a large scale can make a difference, having this sort of information is invaluable. Now I can monitor our bills both in terms of their financial implications and their environmental consequences.
Fixing dodgy appliances
We’ve also had a number of problems with dodgy or faulty appliances over the last few months, coinciding with a little bit of a jump in our energy consumption and spending. Most people know that appliances such as washing machines are neither hugely energy efficient nor cheap to run – it turns out that this is even more true if there are problems with the appliance.
So we made the decision to call this appliance repair company to repair our washing machine. They did a fantastic job, fixing the machine and explaining to us exactly how an inefficient or damaged machine can waste huge amounts of energy. With our appliances back in working order, our flat was well on its way to being as eco-friendly as possible.
For those who may be in a similar situation where your old appliances are eating up electricity, I strongly recommend you calling the repairman in to fix a faulty appliance straight away. You never know just how much damage it’s doing to your budget and to the environment.
Targeting waste and wasters
The third small tweak we made to our lifestyles, and one that’s caused a little bit of trouble, is a ‘fine jar’ for flatmates that waste energy unnecessarily. This involves a pound coin (or whatever they had in their purse or pocket at the time) for anyone who leaves a light on, keeps the laptop on for no reason or doesn’t put a full load in the washing machine. Though people aren’t always happy when they have to put money in the cupcake, it does make you realise how much energy you waste and does change habits.
It’s not only big changes which make a difference in the home. Small changes are just as effective. By switching to energy efficient light bulbs, I was able to cut our electricity bills and as they last longer than traditional bulbs this is a saving I can continue to enjoy. We made a couple of changes that month - and the bill went down by about £16. However, I don't know how much of that was due to the change in light bulbs.
Say “no!” to plastic
Finally, the last small tweak I made in the flat was minimising our use of plastic bags. Most plastics are incredibly toxic and involve hugely wasteful production techniques. By keeping our cupboards well stocked with eco-friendly ‘bags-for-life’, our weekly food shop is now far easier to carry and much more beneficial for the environment.
About the author: Cindy Liu is responsible for managing energy usage in her flat share.
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