I made a bit of a New Year’s Resolution at the start of 2014 to try to be that little bit greener where I could and try to save a bit of money alongside it too. I think I’ve always been fairly good about following energy saving tips but worried that there was still more that I could do and that there were more ways that I could involve my children too.
My main area of concern was our consumption of gas, electricity, and water. These are the things that throughout the year cost me the most and potentially cost the Earth too!
Together the kiddies and I sat down and went through each one to see what ideas we could come up with. My middle son, Biscuit (age 10) has recently been made a carbon ambassador at school so he was very enthusiastic about sharing his energy saving tips at home too. It was great to see how enthusiastic the children were about it and how many ideas they had.
Here are the ideas we came up with. They’re not rocket science by any means and most of them we’ve done before at various times and with varying degrees of enthusiasm. What has been lovely has been sitting down as a family and working together on something. It’s helped us all be that little bit more committed to making a difference to our pocket and to the environment.
Things we’re trying to do every day:
- Put on a jumper before putting on the heating. (I am officially rubbish at this, and seem to feel the cold so much!)
- Turn the thermostat and radiators down a degree. (This has proved easy and we haven’t really noticed a difference in temperature.)
- Turn the lights off when we’re not in the room. (This sounds really obvious doesn’t it? If someone had asked me at the start of the year if it was something we did I would have said “Of course we do!” Once we started actually monitoring it as a family though, we spotted loads of times when we didn’t! For example we have a long thin kitchen with two light fittings, one at either end and each with its own switch. We were great at turning the last one off when we left the kitchen but have lost count of the times the first, inner one, was being left on. When we first started this we enjoyed lots of times being bossy and calling out to each other “Turn the light off!” Now those occasions are getting rare so it’s definitely been worth the effort.
- Switching to low energy lightbulbs. Most of ours were but there were still a couple that had been neglected.
- Not use the tumble dryer! This one my daughter, Cupcake (22) has found the hardest. It means hanging the washing out which takes a lot longer, and planning in the drying time before you need that item again. She is getting better though and so am I, but it is lovely to have the dryer there for those pouring with rain and just don’t have the time moments.
- Turn the oven off a few minutes before the end of the cooking time. There’s enough heat already in the oven to finish the cooking.
- A biggie for us has been getting into the habit of turning the tap off when we’re cleaning our teeth. We often all clean our teeth at the same time so it can feel like a constant on, off, on, off circus sometimes but I trust that it’s worth it and every little counts.
- We’ve also put a plastic bottle full of water into the toilet cistern. It means that each flush is using a little less water.
- Washing clothes. We’re trying to make sure we always have a full load before switching the machine on. With 3 kiddies this isn’t proving a problem!
- Having showers instead of baths. This is something the children aren’t too keen on as they really value and benefit from the water play opportunity bath time brings. We’re compromising at the moment with a half and half.
Now we’ve got that lot ticking over nicely there are a few other options I’m considering introducing in the future too.
- Getting a water-butt. We don’t have much outside space at all so I’ve got to try to find a small one that’s still large enough to warrant investing in.
- Buying a compost bin. We eat a lot of veggies and have a lot of peelings that go into the landfill each week. I like the idea of putting them to good use at home and I’m sure the children will love all the worms!
- Another product that is new to the market and that has made me prick up my ears is from Hive, an offspring from the British Gas team. The product lets you monitor, alter and control your heating and hot water from your smart phone or browser. At first I couldn’t see the benefit of it until I started thinking about the amount of times over winter that I’ve ‘nipped out’ leaving the heating on, only to find that I’ve actually stayed out for ages and have been heating a completely empty house for hours! How many times have you had unplanned after school cuppas and playdates? I know we do quite regularly. Apparently this could save me up to £150 a year!
- As I said earlier, I’m a bit of a wuss with the cold so I also love the idea of being able to use Hive to click my heating to come on 20 minutes before I get home too whatever time of day it is, very handy.
- Hive also has a clever Frost Protection feature that automatically activates when temperatures dip below 5 degrees helping to protect your pipes from freezing. This happened to my mum once and the cleaning up job cost her hundreds! Hive can be fitted regardless of who your energy supplier is and the full kit including professional installation is £199. That’s quite an investment but could perhaps pay for itself in a year or two.
- Lastly I’m considering buying a local organic veggie box weekly. I love the idea of supporting a local business and of course organic would be great. I think it will totally shake up my cooking habits though and I’ll need to get inventive about what to cook when the seasonal products arrive each week. It’ll mean experimenting with new recipes and we may have to say goodbye to some firm family favourites that at the moment get rolled out each week. I think it’s the investment of time, coming up with new recipes, that makes me continue to hesitate about this one. I’d love to hear from anyone that makes this system of shopping work for them, ideas for seasonal recipes and the such like.
For once I’m really looking forward to when our bills come through at the end of the quarter and we’ll be able to see just what a difference we’ve made. We’ve decided that any money we save is going into our trampoline fund. The kiddies would love a trampoline for the garden and this way we can all work hard together to get one and do our bit for the environment too.
I’d love to hear any of your favourite money or energy saving tips in the comments below.
(This is a sponsored post, all opinions are my own.)