How much energy do you use at home? It’s not easy to calculate but most of us realise that one way and another with all our ‘labour saving’ devices, we use much more than is good for the environment. The main problem is CO2 – carbon dioxide – this comes from the fossil fuels we burn to provide us with energy – so all the gas, oil and coal we use to heat and light our houses, run our cars and cook our food. It is estimated that in excess of 40% of the UK’s carbon dioxide emissions come from our individual use in the home.
How to Cut Our Usage
So how can we – and our kids – reduce this whopping figure and do our bit for the planet? And will it really make a difference? Well, yes, it will!
Say Bye-bye to Stand-by
The Government says that the average UK household wastes £37 a year just by leaving their electrical appliances on stand-by. So by switching our TVs etc. off at the wall we are saving ourselves money as well as reducing our energy usage. And don’t forget the fire risk from electrical appliance that are left switched on – better all round to switch right off!
Kid’s Mission: Place all remote controls next to their respective appliances rather than on the arm of the sofa or in a caddy on the coffee table! Get up to switch channels and at the end of the day, switch off!
Use Energy Saving Light Bulbs
Do you really need all the lights you have in your home? Have an assessment to see if there are any you could live without – those in under stairs cupboards for example – could you not hand a torch on a hook instead? Table lamps left on just for aesthetic rather than practical usage – time to pull the plug, maybe? What about in your children’s room? Could night-lights be replaced by gentle glow-in-the-dark ceiling stickers? For all lights you can’t do with out, switch to energy saving light bulbs – the Energy Saving Trust says that energy saving light bulbs use only a quarter of the electricity that ordinary bulbs do, yet they generate the same amount of light.
Kid’s Mission: How many light bulbs do you think you have on the go? Have a guess then go and count up all the light bulbs in the house – don’t forget table lamps and ceiling lights – you’ll probably be amazed by how many you use!
Wall and Roof Insulation
In its environment and greener living guidelines, the Government says that we lose nearly half the heat in our homes through our poorly insulated walls and ceilings, and that by carrying out simple insulation we could save around £400 a year in energy costs!
Kid’s Mission: how do the temperatures differ in your house? Which rooms and walls are cooler and which warmer? How does the loft temperature differ to that of the rest of the house?
Warm Yourself Up!
As soon as that first autumn chill sets in we all switch on our central heating without a second thought, gradually turning it higher and higher as the months progress into winter. This year, why not try to keep the heating off – or at least at a constant low temperature and find other ways to keep your home warm? Use draft excluders on doors, put up a winter-weight curtain at your front door, and ensure chimneys breasts are closed off (if you do not have an open fire) to stop draughts coming down. And check your clothes – if you wear a t-shirt in the house in January you are going to feel cold – put on a jumper and warm socks before you notch up the heating!
Kid’s Task: make a fun draft excluder for your bedroom door – find a remnant or off-cut of furry fabric, roll inside out into a sausage, hem the long side and one short side, turn the right way out, stuff with old rags (tights, socks and other old soft fabric) sew up the last short side and stick on a funny face – ears, long tongue and googly eyes will give your snake a character all of its own!