When you use your appliances do you ever think about the carbon footprint they’re leaving? Probably not – why would you? You use them, and that’s that. But your fridge is contributing to climate change 24 hours a day, and so is your stove, hob, TV…everything you switch on. But the simple fact is that none of us is going to give up our appliances and our lifestyle. We need them, or at least we think we do. So what’s the solution?
No one is going to seriously suggest you ditch your appliances and replace them. But they do wear out, as we all know (often at the worst times), so when you do need something new, you should look for energy efficient ones that won’t put out anywhere near as much CO2. That’s fairly obvious, and you should look for appliances with A+ or AAA energy ratings wherever possible. You’ll find, though, that’s not always possible – with tumble dryers, for instance. By their very nature, they can’t be too efficient.
When you’re shopping for an appliance, take time to look at the energy ratings. And don’t replace something merely because it’s old. That’s simply consuming for its own sake, which does nothing for the planet. If for some reason you do replace a working appliance, recycle it!
There are steps you can take without buying new appliances. Many of them are quite simple and straightforward, and will cut down on the electricity you use, and on your carbon footprint. Most important is not to leave anything on when you’re not using it. We’ve become lazy, relying on remote controls to change channels, and leaving the TV, VCR and DVD on standby all the time. Turn them off, and unplug them at night. The savings will be larger than you might imagine.
Of course, a fridge has to be on all the time to do its job. But it’s only going to be efficient if it’s set at the right temperature. Check the manufacturer’s instructions and set it correctly. Don’t put hot food in there to cool down – all you’ll do is make the fridge work harder. Wait until food has cooled first.
Dishwashers make life easier, but do you really need one? If you do, then only run it with a full load, or if yours has half-load or economy settings, you can use those with smaller loads. We need our washing machines, but it’s best to use them, once again, with a full load. But if you’re in the habit of washing at 60 Celsius, try turning it down to 40 or 30. You’ll be emitting less carbon, and you’ll also save yourself money.
Finally, look at your light bulbs. You probably won’t be able to buy the kind you’ve been used to after 2009, as there’s a widespread move to fluorescent bulbs that use a lot less energy, and so emit less carbon dioxide. When you consider that every time you replace an old bulb with the newer type it means up to £9 off your electricity bill over the course of a year.