Finding it difficult to adjust your lifestyle in order to make it greener? While nearly all of us would like to green up our lives in practice, making long term commitments to save energy and reduce our carbon footprint can be quite a challenge in the 21st century.
Splitting out energy saving habits into workable, manageable chunks is one effective way of making your green commitments last. We’ve come up with a month-by-month guide to help you introduce something green into your life each month…
We often have a good clear out to bring in the New Year, but we should also change our habits when it comes to rubbish and throwing things away. Instead, start recycling items you’d usually put straight in the bin – contact your local council for details of a kerbside recycling collection, or recycling facilities in your local area. Alternatively, donate your items to a local charity shop or give away via an online giveaway site.
Make your home energy efficient by introducing new ways of using energy each day. Remember to turn off lights when you leave a room, and switch off at the mains rather than leaving electrical items on standby. Leaving an item on standby uses 80% of the energy it does when in use. Even small changes like these will help make a difference to the amount of energy you use, and, even better, you should see the difference in your energy bills.
It’s still chilly outside, but beginning to warm up a little, so try turning down the thermostat a degree or two at home. You may not even notice the difference, but it can cut energy consumption and your bills significantly. If you do feel the cold a little more than usual, put on an extra layer or have a blanket handy. Alternatively, try only turning on radiators in the rooms you use the most often, and switch off the rest.
Spring should be in full bloom, which means turning off the tumble dryer and getting your washed clothes out on the line. Tumble dryers are particularly uneconomical when it comes to energy consumption and can’t give you’re the freshly smelling items that drying outside can. While you’re doing the washing, switch down the temperature from 60 to 40, or 40 to 30 degree washes. Most washing powders and liquids work just as well at a lower temperature.
Try leaving the car in the garage for a change and switching to public transport instead. Even if you’re skeptical about your services, give it a try and see how easy travelling two or three days a week is for you – or, if you’ve only a short journey to complete, try walking or cycling instead. Consult your local bus or train company for information on timetables and services.
There are lots of ways you can help save water at home to cut water consumption. Fixing leaking taps, switching from baths to showers, turning off the tap while brushing your teeth – thinking about the way you use your water a bit more will help you to make significant reductions.
Another good water saving device is installing a water butt in the garden to capture rainwater. You can then use this water to water your garden lawn and plants rather than using a hosepipe or sprinkler – both of which are banned during the summer months in more and more places. At the same time, why not start your own composting bin too? Place your green and natural waste into the composting bin to create nutrient soil for your plants.
When you’re planning your annual summer holiday, offset the carbon emissions you create during your plane fight. Or, rather than going abroad by flying, take a train where possible instead – or even try holidaying locally somewhere in the UK.
Before the winter months draw in, get your home prepared by insulating your home. Loft and cavity wall insulation help keep your heat where it needs to be – inside your home. Up to a third of heat produced in the home is lost through its walls, so making this investment will have long term benefits for your energy bills.
The clocks going back mean the beginning of dark nights and mornings, and turning on the lights to keep our homes illuminated. If you switch one light to an energy saving light bulb, you’ll cut £8 a year from your energy bill. When you think of how many bulbs are in the house, the savings add up - and each one lasts up to six times longer.
Try getting involved in a car sharing scheme to help cut your carbon emissions and the amount you spend on petrol for your car each week. Sharing your journeys with work colleagues, friends or fellow parents is also a great way of socialising.
When you’re hitting the shops to go Christmas shopping, make you sure buy green and local. Presents made from recycled goods can make interesting and original gifts. And when it comes to the Christmas dinner, use locally produced meat and vegetables for a greener meal.