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“If it’s not dirty, wash at 30”

All Areas > Environment > Save the Planet

Author: Mark Stead, Posted: Tuesday, 24th February 2015, 08:00

Lots of us are now starting to think about the impact of our electricity use on the environment – not to mention the cost! In 2013, supplying energy to UK homes and businesses resulted in 190 million tonnes of carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere. The good news is that this is beginning to decline due to our switch to renewable forms of energy, and we can all take a few small steps to improve the situation further.

How many of us fill the kettle right to the top every time we make a hot drink? Something as simple as only filling the kettle with the amount of water you need will save a considerable amount of energy over the course of a year. There are lots of other things you can do to save energy in the kitchen.

The most common setting on washing machines heats the water to 40°C. However, this temperature is not really necessary except for stubborn stains – remember “if it’s not dirty, wash at 30”. It’s also worth waiting until you have a full load, and the same applies to dishwashers and tumble driers. In fact, this spring and summer try to dry your clothes outside and avoid using tumble driers altogether unless you have to.

Turning appliances off at the switch rather than leaving them on standby is an easy but under-used trick. Figures show that 8% of the total electricity used in our homes comes from appliances left on standby – the equivalent of around two power stations’ worth of electricity each year, which adds up to £740m a year of wasted electricity, according to the Energy Saving Trust (EST). Wasted energy from appliances left on standby is also responsible for 4 million tonnes of excess carbon dioxide each year.

Lots of us also charge our mobile phones and other devices overnight. Did you know these continue to use energy even once fully charged? You can save energy by unplugging them as soon as they are charged.

Of course, one of the biggest changes you can make is to consider energy consumption when buying new appliances. All appliances now have to display an EU energy label. However, it’s easy to be misled. For example, since July 2012 all new models of fridges and freezers need to achieve at least an A+ rating, meaning that A+ is the minimum standard rather than being among the best. The rating for TVs is also dependant on their size – a B-rated 24” TV might actually use less energy than an A-rated 32” TV.

Finally, it’s worth thinking about your lighting. It is a common myth that it takes more energy to turn a light off and back on again. In fact, it makes sense to turn the light off even if you are only leaving the room for a short period of time. At this time of year, I also find myself turning the lights on in the morning when it is dark and forgetting to turn them off when it brightens up later in the day. Try to remember to turn lights off when there is plenty of natural daylight.

As you can see, there are lots of simple steps that all of us can take to save energy. It needn’t take a huge effort and remember – it will save you money as well.

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