Saving Energy around the Home
By Jenny Bain
The house I live in is a very old house (c.1750) and, like many buildings of its day, it is (I’m ashamed to admit) more than a little dated re energy-efficiency… I am currently looking into how to make my family home warmer and more energy-efficient. In the meantime, here are a few energy-saving tips requiring no DIY whatsoever:
- Layer up! Jumpers, hoodies, fleeces, vests, long johns…
- Keep out draughts by keeping doors closed and using draught excluders.
- Concentrate your heating where you need it most: Keep radiator thermostats down low and just turn up the heat in whichever room(s) you are using.
- Keep a couple of blankets in your living room for relaxing under on those chilly evenings. Put extra blankets on your bed too!
- Get out and about! (Make sure the heating’s off before you leave…) Get some fresh air and exercise to keep fit and warm outside. Alternatively, how about spending some time in a public building, like a local library or museum? (…Or come and spend some time with us at the GK Advice Centre on a Friday or Saturday, 10am – 4pm!)
- Bed-time hot water bottles: Only heat as much water as you need – Bottles should be filled between half and two thirds full, with air squeezed out. (I find that 700ml is enough.) Switch off the kettle as soon as the water is hot enough as boiling water can damage bottles over time. Water should be emptied out when not in use – See if your houseplants need a drink!
Food and Drink
- How much water do you need per mug? Only fill the kettle with as much as you need, making sure to fill it above the element or minimum marker.
- Make two meals in one by doubling your ingredients. The surplus can either be re-heated (requiring less energy than cooking from scratch again) or eaten cold another day. If you have little tubs (eg clean yoghurt pots), you can freeze several individual portions at once.
- How many hot meals do you have per day? Two, maybe even three? Try replacing one hot meal with something cold like sandwiches or salads instead. A cold meal is perfect for using up leftovers too!
Share Energy to Save Energy:
- Spend time together to share light and warmth instead of separating out into different rooms. You don’t have to be talking or doing the same thing as other people to enjoy their company. If you know people who like the same TV programs as you, why not invite them round and watch it altogether?
- Eat together whenever possible. Living alone? How about inviting friends or family over to share a meal? You can use one cooker for everyone instead of one each, and only one of your homes will need to be kept light and warm! With a bit of luck, your guests will return the favour so you can try someone else’s cooking! Make it a regular thing.
- Don’t be a solitary tea-drinker! Why not save boiling the kettle for when others want a hot drink as well?
- Find a hobby that doesn’t involve phones, TVs or computers! And don’t put your telly on just for the sake of a bit of background noise…
- If your computer will be used throughout the day, set it to sleep mode when not in use to allow for a quick start-up.
- Instead of keeping the radio on… Why not practice your own singing/whistling/humming skills? (You may wish to choose your moments though… Other people may not always appreciate your talents…)
Energy-Saving Home Visits:
I have just returned home from an information evening on Saving Energy in Older Properties, organised by Greener Kirkcaldy in conjunction with Home Energy Scotland. If you think that energy-saving measures can only be applied to modern houses then think again! I have come away from this evening with a lot to think about. Of course, there are some relatively simple things I could do, such as draught-proofing windows, that would be neither difficult, costly nor disruptive. And then there are other things, such as installing roof, wall and floor insulation which could potentially be all three… I wouldn’t know where to begin!
This is where Greener Kirkcaldy comes in, offering free home visits and impartial advice. They can advise you on possible help with funding too! Whether you are an experienced DIY-er with a comprehensive knowledge of the structure of your building and would simply like a few pointers, or whether, like me, you barely know what your neglected old house is made of and need someone to have a good look around and tell you exactly what you need to do, Greener Kirkcaldy’s friendly Energy Advisors are here to help… And it’s free! The advice is tailor-made to suit your property, whether you own a listed building or are renting a flat. And if they can’t help you, they’ll put you in touch with someone who can!
Greener Kirkcaldy has now expanded beyond Kirkcaldy and can offer Home Visits to Fifers east of Dunfermline. If you are outwith their catchment, give them a call anyway and they’ll be happy to point you in the right direction.|