So, another Christmas is behind us. As usual, we’ve piled on the pounds, maxed out the savings and credit cards and, I don’t know about you, but I am feeling guilty. I always feel bad at this time of year.
I feel bad that I’ve eaten so much, bad that I’ve spent so much and bad that I’ve got tons of work to catch up on. Is this why we have New Year’s Resolutions? To abate our guilty consciences?
Well, instead of the usual soon-to-be-broken vows to eat less, drink less and exercise more, why not take a few simple, practical steps to reduce your energy consumption and costs.
You don’t have to do it all TODAY. Why not draw up a plan, set reminders in your digital diaries and take one step a month towards a cleaner, greener future. Here are some suggestions.
Take it month by month
While you’re feeling the financial squeeze, why not sit down and examine your monthly outgoings? Switching energy provider costs nothing, takes only a few minutes and could save you hundreds of pounds in the long run. There is also a huge selection of smaller companies offering energy from renewable sources.
Grab a recent bill or your annual statement and follow the simple instructions on the Citizen’s Advice Bureau’s website to see how much you could save.
It’s the cruelest month with the lowest temperatures. But while you crank the heating up, 60 per cent of it could be leaking straight out through your roof, windows and walls. It’s a good time to think about filling your cavity walls and insulating your roof. You’ll soon recoup the costs with reduced bills and there’s help at hand if you are on certain benefits under the Government’s Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme. If an arctic wind is blowing in through your windows, it might be time to consider double-glazing.
Spring is around the corner so we can hopefully turn the heating down and focus on other ways of saving energy. Replacing your standard lightbulbs with energy-efficient LED may cost more, but they can last up to 25 years and use 80% less energy than standard bulbs. This means you’ll save twice - by buying fewer bulbs and using less energy.
How are your appliances looking? If your fridge is groaning with the effort and your washing machine cycle kicks out like a seismic occurrence, could it be time to get to the Easter sales?
Once again, your initial outlay will be recouped in saved energy bills – as well as making your chores that much more pleasant. For example, a C-rated fridge can cost up to £44 a year to run while an A+ is likely to cost around £23 and an A+++ can cost as little as £14 a year. Get a good deal in the sales and you’ll make your money back in no time.
It might seem like a funny time to think about your central heating system but now is the time when engineers are at their quietest and most likely to offer a competitive price for installation. Get three or four registered engineers to come and give you a quote – the difference can be vast. An extra-efficient alternative to carbon intensive heating systems is the Ecodan renewable air source heat pump, which has a life span of 15-20 years and lower annual maintenance costs. It could save the average mid-terraced three-bed house almost £1,000 per year and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to two thirds.
The heat pump selection tool will illustrate potential savings over gas, oil and direct electric, and will also indicate the potential payments from the Renewable Heat Incentive, which households can receive for seven years.
These are just a few suggestions, of course, and there are many more ways to save energy and money.
Right now, can you come up with one good reason NOT to take up the challenge to reduce your carbon footprint and save money?
Just thinking about it helps me forget all the self-indulgence of the last month, at least until this time next year.