How to save money at home by being eco-friendly.
Many people believe that going green is something that costs money and are not sure if they can afford to choose brands and products that are eco-friendly. However, the reality is generally the opposite. Making choices that help to protect the planet often save you money, reduce waste and have other benefits as well.
A third of all food grown is thrown away. This is really a wasteful way of modern living but several initiatives are helping to tackle this issue. Community fridges are popping up all over towns where people give away surplus food for free to anyone who can use it as they pass by. There are also apps that allow you to find and share food to prevent it going in the bin such as OLIO and Too Good to Go. Supermarkets have started offering ‘wonky’ or imperfect fruit and veg that tastes the same but is often a fraction of the cost of ‘perfect’ food. Read our guide to reducing food waste for more ideas.
The average UK energy bill in the UK in 2019 was a whopping £1,289 a year.
The government has just scrapped its Green Home Grant which offset the cost of insulating homes, because it was over-complicated and that meant poor uptake.
However, loft insulation has the biggest impact on energy conservation because heat rises and up to a quarter of the heat in your home can escape through your roof. If you are a low earner or claiming benefits then your local authority or energy company might have a scheme to fully pay for this. Simple Energy Advice has a list of grants and discounts plus tenants can ask their landlords for improved insulation.
Energy can also escape as drafts through cracks around doors or windows. So you are wasting money on energy bills and adding to your carbon footprint.
These simple measures can make the greatest financial savings:
- Top up your loft insulation to 27cm depth. This can save you around £250 per year in heating bills so pay back in less than two years..
- Draught proof your home using foam strips around doors, draft excluder brushes and a simple chimney balloon which inflates and sits in your chimney safely protecting drafts. Here's our how-to guide.
- Invest in a smart thermostat set at 19C.
- Using thermal curtains and blackout blinds to prevent heat escaping through windows.
- Either double glaze your windows or fit cheaper temporary secondary glazing film, available in DIY stores.
- Is your boiler working efficiently? If your boiler is old a new efficient one could save you up to £315 per year. Remember heating accounts for over half of what you spend on energy bills each year. Read up on why it's important to get your boiler serviced regularly.
- Homes built since 1920 have a gap between internal and external walls so they are ideal for cavity wall insulation. Those houses that don’t have a cavity, can fit solid wall insulation either internally or externally (bit more expensive).
Read our compete guide to home insulation here.
There are currently no grants for solar PV panels (they cost from around £5k to install) but they will reduce your energy bills, especially if you are at home during daylight hours. Solar panels generate more energy if you have a south facing house and the further south in the country you are.
In January 2020 the government introduced the smart export guarantee (SEG) - an obligation on electricity suppliers to offer a tariff and make payments for excess electricity exported from homes to the Grid. Which? says this could mean more than a 5-fold difference in your payments.
Every house for sale in the UK has an energy performance certificate (EPC) that shows how energy-efficient your property is. You are given a rating from A, the highest, to G, the lowest. If you install solar panels, have good insulation, double glazing and low-energy lighting you will increase the EPC rating, adding to the value of your home.
Check you are on the cheapest energy tariff possible for 100% clean energy. Some suppliers will even pay you money if you use electricity when there is too much wind and solar on the grid. Octopus energy has just introduced Outgoing Octopus, the UK’s first smart export tariff. If your home uses solar panels, battery storage, or any other means of getting energy back into the grid you could be paid by the provider for releasing more renewable energy into the grid.
TRANSPORT AND ELECTRIC CARS
A Plug-In Car Grant (PiCG) is available, worth £2,500 off a new electric car for those purchasing a vehicle up to the cost of £35,000. EVs over this amount won’t be eligible for the incentive. The garage where you buy the vehicle sorts the grant out for you directly.
The government’s Electric Vehicle Home Charge Scheme (EVHS) provides grant funding of up to 75%, which works out at £350 (including VAT) towards the cost of installing an electric vehicle charge point at domestic properties across the UK.
An innovative scheme from Transport of the West Midlands means motorists in Coventry can scrap their old cars in exchange for £3,000 worth of public transport credits, as part of a new initiative to improve air quality.
There are also bike-to-work schemes through company pay rolls and grants for bike repairs but these are often full as soon as they are released.
RECYCLING BY SHWOPPING
WRAP UK says 350,000 tonnes of wearable clothes end up in landfill in the UK each year. They take 200 years to decompose which adds harmful methane to the atmosphere.
When non-essential shops reopen it makes financial and environmental sense to make use of in-store recycling schemes.
If you take unwanted clothes to Oxfam that include at least one item of M&S clothing or soft furnishings, you receive a £5 M&S voucher in return.
Every H&M store has a collection box in which to leave clothes for recycling in return for a £5 voucher to spend in store. In 2019 they collected 29,005 tonnes of clothing this way.
Uniqlo offer £10 for every old down jacket you bring in to store, to be put towards the price of a new one. They use 100% of the old puffas to make new ones.
MAC make up gives you a free lipstick of your choice for every six old tubes you bring into stores.
John Lewis offer a £3 discount to customers bringing in up to three items of clothing in reasonable condition.
If you have a water meter, your water bill will be calculated by measuring your usage, so you don’t want to waste any otherwise it really is pouring money down the drain.
With increasingly warm temperatures in the UK there is a growing risk that our water supplies will be reduced, so saving water makes green sense too.
A simple little shower save valve fits neatly between your shower head and hose, and could save the average household 30 litres of water a day. It works by using ‘flow regulator technology’, keeping the flow of water through your shower at a constant 7.6 litre per minute thereby reducing the amount of water and energy wasted every time you shower. (Not suitable for electric showers, unfortunately).
Tap inserts are smart little devices that help to reduce the flow rate from taps from 10 litres per minute to just five litres. Because they cause the water to aerate, you won’t even notice any difference in pressure.
If you don’t have a dual-flush loo (if your toilet is an older model), an easy-to-install water hippo can reduce the amount of water used in every flush. It sits neatly in your toilet cistern and saves up to three litres of water per flush by keeping hold of water that would otherwise simply be flushed away.
Some of these gadgets are completely free from water companies. Find out more here.
Finally, if you use your washing machine’s default settings, make sure you do so with a full load, otherwise the cycle will use far more water than necessary. Selecting ‘quick wash’ or ‘lighter load’ options will use less water.
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