Once you’ve done all the things you should do – like changing your light bulbs, turning down your thermostat and adding loft insulation – and the budget won’t quite stretch to adding photovoltaic panels or a wind turbine to your roof, what can you do next?
The good news is that while you’re exploring the possible grants available to fund the next big community project, there are still some simple ways to keep the energy-saving ball rolling – and here are our top five ‘must-have’ devices that are guaranteed to help do that.
Once, if you wanted to know how much electricity you were using, you had to resort to reading your meter on a daily basis – or watch how fast the disc was whizzing by when individual appliances were switched on or off. These days it’s all become much easier and there’s a big enough range of monitors available to suit every home and every budget – from £200 comprehensive energy management systems, to £20 plug in meters.
There’s nothing quite like seeing for yourself the amount you’re consuming – whether you choose to view things in amps, watts or pence – to make you appreciate how and where you can cut back. If this device doesn’t help you save energy, then nothing will!
According to government statistics, the average UK home has as many as12 appliances either permanently charging or on stand-by, and wastes around £37 per year on keeping that little red light shining!
Fortunately help is at hand in the form of a variety of plugs, adapters and multi-socket extensions that will automatically manage your computer, peripherals and TV to cut your carbon footprint, reduce your energy consumption and save you money. Even the most expensive kinds will pay for themselves in about 10 months and henceforth every time you power down your PC, your peripherals will switch off too. Energy saving doesn’t come much easier than this – but do make sure you buy the right device for the job; there are different versions available for desktops, laptops and TVs, and it really does matter which you get!
The price of photovoltaic cells has dropped dramatically in real terms over recent years and efficient, portable versions are now widely available to top up or charge a whole range of today’s essential electronic devices. That means fewer items plugged in for recharging, and is great news for energy savers.
Getting ready to harness the sun’s “free” energy will cost you, of course, and how much you’ll have to pay depends on what you want to run. Powering up your laptop is going to call for a few hundred pounds up-front, but for less than £20 you can keep rechargeable batteries in good condition, and for about £50, your mobile phone or MP3 player will always be ready for action – assuming the sun shines!
Although they won’t exactly save you money – at least not at first – one of these chargers will help you use less energy and perhaps best of all, even in the middle of a power cut or a place where there’s no convenient socket, you’ll still be able to use your favourite devices.
You’re probably already familiar with wind-up devices, and they’ve been growing in popularity ever since Trevor Baylis came up with his radio in the 1980s. Today, add torches, multi-chargers, a shaver and even an MP3-player to the list and whatever your needs, you’ll probably find there’s a wind-up gadget somewhere to suit.
Quite apart for being a bit different and good fun to use, every single one allows you to cut out the need for batteries or mains leads completely. You really can’t save more energy than that!
We’ve all heard the one about only boiling as much water as we need for the drink we’re about to make, but – honestly – how many of us follow that advice? According to one recent survey, fewer than you might think; seemingly almost 30 per cent of us admit to over-filling the kettle fairly routinely – and many of the rest of us probably fib! Enter the eco-kettle.
There’s a whole range of contenders in this new class of energy saving kettles, and their price tags vary, starting at around £50 or so. The way they work differs between manufacturers, but mechanics aside, the basic idea is that they let you fill the kettle to your heart’s content, but only deliver a predetermined amount of boiling water. Given the Energy Saving Trust’s calculation that if we all really did only boil what we needed, the energy saved could power all of the UK’s streetlights, the eco-kettle idea has a lot going for it – and just think about the effect on your bills!
If you’re thinking of buying one or more of these devices for yourself, it’s probably worth asking around the rest of the group before you actually do. If a good number of you want the same item – or a range of items from the same supplier – you might be able to negotiate a good discount by placing one large order. That way you all save a bit of cash, you’ll cut the fuel use with a single delivery and some of the embedded energy in the packaging too. Community projects really can come up trumps!