There is a wide array of small changes we can make to lessen our impact on national energy consumption. So, what do we mean when we talk about sustainable living? One of the great environmentalists of our time and founder of the Earth Policy Institute, Lester R Brown, defines sustainable living as the shift to “a renewable energy based, reuse/recycle economy with a diversified transport system.” In this blog post we will therefore examine the methods and tactics we can employ in order to get closer to this vision of a sustainable future. Also, don’t forget we are currently running a competition where you can win energy saving packs and be in with a chance of winning £7,000 worth of Anglian windows.
We will categorise these efforts into three main categories: transportation, water, and power.
– Obviously, this choice is dramatically influenced by your location. Inner city dwellers clearly have more public transport alternatives to car use. It is perhaps less efficient to use a car in the city centre anyway as the stop – start nature of inner city driving uses more fuel than longer distance cruising. If you are able to use public transport, and remove your reliance on car travel, this would greatly reduce your personal or household energy consumption. Walking or cycling to your given destination would also be a positive move towards sustainable transportation, but it is obviously not always viable.
– In the scenario where we are constricted by other elements of our lifestyle, we can make our choice of car as sustainable as possible. Electric cars are fast becoming energy-efficient and cost-effective alternatives to traditional fossil fuel vehicles. The government offers a £5,000 electric car grant and should you be forced to buy a new car, the savings from this grant can be significant.
– A hybrid car should be considered as it uses an electronic motor to aid a smaller, more efficient engine. They are also much cheaper in terms of tax. In the UK, hybrid cars generally sit three to four tax bands lower than the average petrol-fuelled car.
– We can make a significant difference by eliminating unnecessary car journeys, where walking or cycling is commonsensical.
– Heating your water is one area where energy efficiency can be improved. By far the most efficient method in terms of cost and energy, is solar water heating. If you have a sunny place to put solar panels, space for a larger or extra-hot water cylinder and your current boiler is compatible with solar water heating, you may be able to reduce your carbon footprint and your annual energy bills.
– One fifth of the average household’s carbon footprint comes just from heating baths, showers and washing up. Taking a ‘navy shower’ – shutting off the water while shampooing or soaping up. Simply taking a shorter shower can also have a significant impact. If you enter our competition mentioned at the top of the post, you could win an energy saving pack which includes an energy saving shower head and a free timer app.
– Installing a shower timer and reducing shower time by one minute could save the average family of four 12,000 litres of water per year. Dripping taps and leaking pipes are also major culprits of water waste. A dripping tap can waste up to 15 litres of water every day and could cause damage to your property.
-You can even cut down on wastage by saving the cold water that comes through the tap before it turns hot and using it to water plants. You could also keep a jug of cold water in the fridge rather than waiting for the tap to run cold, or turn off the tap while shaving or brushing your teeth.
– Purchasing a water butt is a great way to save money on water as it gathers rain water, which can be used to wash your car, flush toilets, fuel your washing machine or water plants.
– Obviously, photovoltaic solar panels are one of the best ways to improve your homes energy efficiency, supplying you with electricity and having the potential to earn you money through the Feed-in-tariff. You will also be making a saving on your electric bills, as they will be reduced from the electricity you are producing; you could even produce enough energy to power your home for free!
– Hydroelectricity and wind power are other possibilities for generating your own energy, and again can save you hundreds of pounds each year. Your location will very much decide which is the best option for you, but both have great potential to save you energy. A Hydroelectricity system is beneficial because it can generate energy 24 hours a day, sometimes generating more than you need, meaning you could power your electric heating through this also.
– Lots of appliances around the home will sit on standby constantly. Turning the power off at the mains switch when these appliances are not in use will save you money on wasted energy each year. The television is one of the biggest culprits for this along with phone charges being left on when they’re not in use! You could save around £40 a year by turning appliances off when they’re not in use.
– One way you can save around £60 a year on your heating bill is by turning your thermostat down a degree. Each degree you turn it down by is potentially another £60 you could save, according to the Energy Saving Trust.
We all want to do our bit to help make our lives more sustainable and cheaper, especially with the annual price hikes from energy companies. If you want to find out how big your carbon footprint is, check out this calculator and share the results with us. Maybe we can give you some advice or you could share some tips with us in the comment panel below.
In reality few of us will do all of this, but even if you did just one or two of these things some of the time, it would make a difference.