Saturday 15 October 2022

Cost of Living Tips

Save Your Pennies & the Planet!

Piggy Bank Photo by Maitree Rimthong Pexels

The cost of living crisis has taken an all time high & set to get even trickier. What a tumultuous decade we've had so far, it just keeps on giving, doesn't it?

I've been reflecting on ways to save energy costs. The good news is that most of the tips below could also help save the planet just by using less of the Earth's resources.

I'm sure that many of the tips below are ones you already consider, but if I throw in one extra thing that you haven't yet tried it'd be worth me typing it all out! 

So here goes. 

Washing

Wash Less Often – I'm all for this - don't wash as often, embrace the smelly! Your best mate might not thank you for it but the planet will. 

Running hot water uses several things - electricity to kick start the boiler into action, gas to heat the water (if you have a gas boiler) and water costs (if metered) to run the water, until it finally gets hot. So washing less will save money on all 3. 

Get ya kids in the bath together, save left over bath water for plants and set a timer on showers (for those who can't get out once they're in!)

Here's a savvy tip from an eco forum poster, run the water into a jug while you're waiting for it to heat up. The excess water can be used to water a house plant. Water ultimately does get recycled, but if you get charged for each bit of it you use, it pays to reduce the run off.

Wear Clothes for Longer – If you regularly chuck rarely worn items straight into the wash, have a think and decide if it can last a day or two longer. Not only does it save on number of washes you have to do, but it can also make your clothes last longer, as washing regularly can degrade your fibres.

Wash at Lower Temperatures – I've wondered if washing at lower temperatures can really make a difference as I've always washed at 40 degrees. But lately I've started to take more notice, when I read you can save about 40% electricity, just by reducing your wash temperature. 

Washing Machine Photo by rawpixel.com Pexels

It makes sense to use full loads when you wash (forget doing little tiddly washes) and if your energy supplier charges less at certain times of the day or night, aim to do your washing then.

This web site has some handy tips on ways to save money on your washing: 
https://inthewash.co.uk/laundry-and-ironing/save-money-doing-laundry/

Plus a comparison of different brands of machine: 
https://inthewash.co.uk/laundry-and-ironing/cost-to-wash-clothes-uk/ 

(Savings may seem small but really do add up over time).

Recycle Your Water - Also known as 'grey water', consider using old water from washing up bowls, baths etc for watering outdoor plants. The RHS says that soap suds are filtered in the soil so shouldn't affect the plants too much. 

May need to avoid doing this with edible plants though in case of any contaminants. https://www.rhs.org.uk/science/gardening-in-a-changing-world/water-use-in-gardens/using-grey-water

Water Saving Devices - these devices can help cut down on your water consumption, such as the hippo for toilet cisterns and aerators for your shower. 

Some devices are free, so it's worth checking with your local water provider. 
https://www.reducereuserecycle.co.uk/greenfreebies/free_water_saving_devices.php

Cooking

Unplug Unused Appliances - Some items can continue to drain energy on standby, so consider unplugging to save some pennies. On a recent 30 Tips to Cut Your Bills program, aired on Channel 5, it was suggested that microwaves for example are just expensive clocks. I've now started to unplug mine!

Smart meters are excellent tools, so you can see which appliances use up the most resources. Switch lights to LED to make some savings on lighting too.

Boil Less in the Kettle - Most will have heard this, but boiling water in a kettle is energy consuming. Cut your costs by boiling only what you need. Some folks even use a flask and top up their cuppas using previously boiled water. I guess if there's any left you can use it to have a wash later, cool it off to water house plants or stick it in your dog's water bowl!

Baking Cakes in the Oven Photo by Cottonbro

Use Oven Less - The oven is an expensive way to cook. Heating food in faster ways is more cost effective - think stir frys, microwave meals or air fry machines. 

If you do need the oven, bake several things at once & consider batch cooking (cooking more than you need) so you can eat it during the week. Use residual oven heat to heat the room after (a good excuse to turn the radiators off!)

Left overs are a great quick meal for lunch the next day. Take it to work and use their microwave to heat it, using their electricity instead of yours!

Put your freezer to work - by storing batch cooked meals (remember to label them as once frozen it's easy to forget!) If storing cooked food in fridge/freezer, allow the food to cool down properly first. This will reduce your appliance having to work harder, trying to cool it down electronically.

They say a fuller freezer is more economical to run and stocking with frozen fruit & veg is fine, as they are usually picked & frozen quickly, meaning you can avoid food waste (as frozen food keeps longer) and still eat nutritional meals. 

If food can be defrosted, then cooking chilled rather than frozen will save on cooking times also, so remember to take it out for defrosting ahead of time.

Left over fruit & veg can be turned into homemade jams and chutneys to keep them going for longer. Check out some more great energy saving tips below:

Heating

Reduce the draughts - you've probably heard it all before but draughts will cause you to crank up the thermostat, so blocking the escape of heat you've already paid for will ultimately save ya pennies. Tips include lagging water tanks, adding extra loft insulation and placing draught excluder tape around doors and windows.

Dial it down - popping your thermostat down a couple of degrees can help with heating costs and turn off radiators in rooms where they are not needed. 

Place reflective material behind the radiator to help distribute the heat and if the radiators feel too cold or uneven, they may need bleeding to help get them working more efficiently. 

Individual thermostat radiator valves can also keep different rooms controlled as different temperature settings. 

Heat yourself up - rather than heat the whole house maybe put extra layers on yourself, embrace the warm blankie and fluffy slippers. I always find hot food warms me up, so a hearty bowl of soup is quick, nutritious and body warming too.

Puppy in Blanket Photo by Em Hopper Pexels

See this article below on six ways to keep your heating costs down:
https://www.which.co.uk/news/article/six-ways-to-keep-your-heating-costs-down-aD82Q4d0RDcQ

Buying Products

Get Cashback - consider using Cash back sites such as Topcashback for your normal purchases. I've managed to save over £400 doing this, so whether you get pennies or pounds back they really do add up. 

You get cashback on insurance, travel, home products, personal products and even sites such as Etsy & Ebay. I find their competitions and bonus cashbacks helpful too, so keep an eye out for those.

Free or Loan Products

Embrace Preloved Items - I'm always shocked when I hear how many clothes are thrown into landfill each year. It doesn't need to happen - there are so many ways to keep unwanted clothes going - donate to charity shops or place in charity collection bins (there's plenty in supermarket car parks or look out for when they next come around your street for collection).

Also place them online, Facebook market place, freecycle, eco trash forums, vinted, ebay etc etc. Or maybe have a swap party with friends.

Find a Repair Workshop - you may be able to save on the cost of buying a new item by having it repaired instead. Check out this map to find a repair workshop near you. https://www.repaircafe.org/en/visit/

If you do find your electrical item cannot be repaired, avoid placing them in the general waste. Council sites often have an electrical appliance section where items can be disposed. Check out: https://www.recyclenow.com/recycle-an-item/electrical-items.

Swap and Share Your Items - if you have an item you no longer want or need consider joining a Swap and Share group on Facebook or look up a local Eco Trash group or Items for Free Group. These are good ways to get a second hand item for little or no cost.

Photo by Liza Summer from Pexels

Trade your Skills - maybe swap a homemade cake in return for a hair cut? Or walk a dog in return for a meal maybe? So many different ideas. 

Loan Something! - Why not check out the 'Library of Things' - a London group where folks post items available to loan - it could save you having to buy something if you just need it for a day. Check your local area for similar groups.

Find a Community Hub - if you need a moment to get warmth some community hubs are being set up by local councils and charities. You may find a community café near you, some provide free hot drinks, low cost food, warm space and a friendly face.

Driving

Drive Lighter - extra weight in the car causes more fuel to drive so reduce your fuel costs by taking out heavy items that aren't needed. Those top boxes could be weighing you down and causing extra drag too, so if you have somewhere to store them take them off until you need them the next time.

Another tip I've never thought of doing until now is only half fill your car with fuel. Fuel is heavy, so less fuel means a more energy efficient journey. Drive more steadily too ie letting the car slow down gently (also saves on break pads) and get up to high gear as soon as you can.

Ensure your tyres aren't under inflated. Under inflated tyres can cost you £65 a year on extra fuel according to this article - lots more tips below: 
https://www.rac.co.uk/drive/advice/know-how/30-money-saving-motoring-tips/ 

Landrover on Gravel Photo by Tim Compound Pexels

Car Pooling - if you notice your neighbour goes to the same school, workplace or shops on a regular basis as you, maybe pool together and share the driving. You can even rent out your drive these days to get some extra pennies!

Do It Yourself

Make Your Own Products - you can make cleaning and personal care products easily and cheaply too. Some ideas to get you started can be found at: 
https://www.lovelierplanet.com/p/home-made-section.html

Hobbies

Fitness - you can get fit for free by walking in the local countryside or find a local outdoor gym. This site shows some ‘fresh air gyms’ that might be near you. Or why not become a dog walker and get paid while you walk?

Consider volunteering for an eco group to help with litter picking, beach cleans or tree planting which will also help to keep you fit. Lots of ideas on volunteering can be found in our directory page.

Crafting - check out an eco trash group on Facebook for random bits you can use such as fabric remnants, buttons etc. or maybe join a local freecycle group.

Get Paid to Watch TV - Watching television of course uses electricity, but if there's a program you can't do without, then why not get paid to watch it? 

GFK Media view site lets you review your fave TV and Radio programs. You will randomly be selected to win rewards which you can cash in for a coupon to use against your favourite purchases online. I have made about £50 so far!

Christmas

Christmas Crafts Photo by Boris Pavlikovsk Pexels

Looking for an Eco Christmas? - support your local charity shop, grab their christmas catalogue or check out their online store (they'll love your support & you'll feel better knowing your pennies went to a good cause). 

Or support a local home crafter on etsy (did you know, we sell home made cotton washing up clothes and re-usable christmas crackers)? 

Maybe try your hand at making your own goodies? 

Check out Spruce Crafts for some great ideas: 

Some articles on going green at Christmas are listed below..🎄

Enjoy an Eco Friendly Christmas:
https://www.lovelierplanet.com/2021/11/festive-dreamin.html
https://www.lovelierplanet.com/2019/11/dreamin-of-green-christmas.html
https://www.lovelierplanet.com/2019/12/less-waste-at-christmas.html
https://www.lovelierplanet.com/2020/11/how-to-have-eco-christmas.html


I do hope you enjoyed the article and thank you for reading! ðŸŒž