/ Home & Energy

Can small changes help save the environment?

Plug socket on wall of grass

Latest stats suggest we don’t have a clue about how to save energy and that we’re choosing the wrong ways to be green. But surely that old cliché – every little helps if we all do our bit – stands true?

So an American survey has found that people don’t have a clue about energy saving. When asked what was the most effective thing you could do to save energy, the most popular answer was turning out the lights.

Unfortunately, while this is good practice, it doesn’t actually save that much energy.

And it’s not just Americans who’ve been focusing on the little changes. A recent report from Mintel, found that while 74% of Brits turn off lights when they leave a room, much fewer had tried more effective ways of saving energy. These include turning down thermostats or making use of the eco settings on appliances.

But is it any wonder people are confused? We’re constantly bombarded with tips for reducing our carbon footprint, but actual savings vary massively. And the savings often depend on many factors, so it can be tricky to work out which will have the biggest impact.

Small changes = small savings?

Finding out that little changes don’t make a big difference can be disheartening. My flatmate has been turning off our TV and Virgin box at the plug, religiously, every night for the last year, convinced that she is helping cut our energy bills.

And yet when we tried an energy monitor out recently, we discovered this made no perceptible difference to our electricity usage. Needless to say, she wasn’t impressed.

But not all small changes are pointless – some do make a difference. It doesn’t take much effort to turn your thermostat down by one degree, but the Energy Saving Trust estimates that doing this could cut your heating bills by up to 10% and save you around £55 a year. That’s got to be good for the environment too.

What can you do to make a difference?

An energy monitor can help to identify possible savings in the home. If, like me, you spend half an hour running around the house turning things on and off, you’ll soon see which actions actually make a difference.

And one of the cleverest ways to save energy long-term, is to choose energy efficient appliances when we buy new ones. This won’t just save energy, but money too – running costs for fridge freezers vary from £13 to £92 a year!

But what about the actions that don’t seem to make a difference – like turning off lights? Well, even if these actions alone don’t save a massive amount of energy, if everyone does them, the cumulative effect does become significant.

So while it’s important to put these actions in perspective, I don’t think we should give up on them completely. Despite the energy monitor’s evidence, I admire my flatmate for keeping up her ritual…

Comments
Profile photo of h003521211
Member

What matters most about energy saving in this spendthrift country is to get into the mentality of not wasting. This applies not just to energy using appliances round the house but also to food – peelings can go into the compost bin as can some cooked food but better still EAT all the food you cooked. Rubbish which includes waste food collected by a local council ought to go to biogenerators to produce energy.

Profile photo of richard
Member

I have three dogs – they eat any food I don’t including bones. No waste. Cooking by microwave fast and efficient – Changed all light bulbs to 11 watt a saving of 545% – Though increased 2 to 18w as the 11w are too dim to read easily.

Do have 2 Grade A fridge freezers – hot water only on for two – one hour sessions and hot water tank heavily lagged – The Central Heating is set to give around 60 degrees in winter – only at times when I’m home – If is really cold outside – I wear a sweater – (It is also a slimming aid)

I even have Infra-red switches on the stairs so the dogs can see if they want to move around the house.

The only time I use a lot of energy is with my power tools – but they are only on when I’m using them.

I don’t think this country is spendthrift.

All windows and doors double glazed – attic lined with 6″ fibre glass insulation.

If you usually keep lights on – and now you switch any off that are not being used – Of course you are saving energy – and it helps.

Profile photo of terfar
Member

If you believe a microwave is efficient, you are wrong. They are VERY inefficient. But they are convenient.

Heat a can of beans in a microwave and compare it to heating in the correct sized saucepan on a matching sized gas ring and the difference will shock you.

Member

I don’t waste any food; can’t understand how people manage to chuck out a third of what they buy (or how they can afford to)!

But I think low energy bulbs are terrible. They don’t give as much light as they are supposed to and take so long to warm up that I tend to leave the lights on in a room if I am going in and out; rather than wait in the gloom for the **** bulb to warm up again! This is rather counter-productive!

Profile photo of richard
Member

The Phillips 18 watt bulbs are fine – they are fast switch on (instantaneous) and bright – though not as bright as the so called 100w incandescent bulbs they are supposed to be equivalent to.- nearer to 60 watt – and adequate – whereas the 11 watt ones that are usually sold are no good at all except for general lighting. But I couldn’t get them in the normal shops or supermarkets – I bought them on Ebay quite cheap. as a box of 12..

Profile photo of andrewbrown
Member

I have been minature fluorescent bulbs ever since they have been available for two reasons: (1) I seldome have to change bulbs, and (2) they use so little energy I can happily leave them on all evening in the hall, loung and kitchen. Yes it will save some electricity over conventional bulbs (but any heat loss has to be made up by the central heating system!), but for me the main benefit is convenience and a well lit house.

My only problem is that I cannot easily get energy saving bulbs equivalent to 150 watt or higher for a very large room.

The only place where individuals can make significant energy savings is in house insulation and in car use. I don’t think we should be reducing our quality of life for a few KWh per year.

Andrew

Profile photo of dave d
Member

Oddly enough I have just e-mailed Which? only today suggesting that a Which? report should be commissioned to look at the REAL savings to be made by choosing eco-settings, so-called energy saving appliances, etc.

This comes after several huge disappointments recently including:

Buying a very expensive Washer that was Energy Saving Trust recommended, only to find that it used 4 times more electricity than my previous, ancient (20+ year old) model. After battling with the EST they wrote to me to say that they knew that ALL new washers use more energy than old ones, and they never claim otherwise (they don’t if you read carefully) – they simply state which models use the energy EFFICIENTLY, which is quite a different matter.

My neighbours replacing a SEDBUK G rated boiler with a SEDBUK A rated model and finding that their gas bill almost doubled – again after battling with suppliers and Trading Standards they were eventually advised that the SEDBUK rating refers to how EFFICIENTLY the appliance burns the gas, not to how much gas it actually uses. Again, a bitter disappointment and apparently harming the environment more than their old model.

Hearing on BBC Radio 4’s “Money Box” programme last January that flat screen TV’s – widely promoted as “environmentally friendly” actually use almost exactly 100% more energy for the identical screen size than an old Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) set.

Switching to CFL low energy light bulbs only to find that a) they are nothing like equivalent brightness to old bulbs and b) you get fined for putting them in the dustbin and have to pay to take them to the tip because of the obnoxious metals and gasses that are in them, which our council assert do more harm to the environment than generating the extra energy to use old type bulbs.

As other contributors have said above, we receive hopelessly conflicting and confusing messages: how on earth are we supposed to actually make a difference when no one agrees on the real answers and we find that the real “saving” is actually an INCREASE many times (Washer, TV and Boiler to name but 3 examples I have proof of)?

There is a major need for legally required clarity so that end-users stand a chance.

I do feel that not wasting things is the most effective thing we can all do, and it’s also the easiest to get facts about: keeping old appliances until they are utterly unusable, buying clothes that last and not changing them for the sake of fashion and not throwing out good food are three ways that I think it’s fairly safe to say will help our pockets and the environment.

Profile photo of richard
Member

Thanks for your input – I had never thought to even question whether the newer machines actually used MORE electricity – I automatically assumed they used LESS.

Mind you it is easy enough to check – simply look for the wattage rating.

That certainly is interesting.

I wonder what our on line Which? contributors will say about this?

Member
pickle says:
22 August 2010

In the matter of lighting, I have used LED lamps in my kitchen with one halogen over the sink. Ptrevious wattage was 280 watts, present wattage about 70. Unfortunately LED bulbs are only obtainable in G10 fitting and are rather expensive. I would like to see manufacturers develop LEDs in bayonet, screw and small screw fittings which then would fit most lampholders.

Profile photo of richard
Member

In my kitchen I decided to go with one central long 80 watt fluorescent rather than down-lighters because of the huge saving in electricity. almost shadowless light and long lasting lamps – haven’t changed it for over eight years..

I once equipped a large dental clinic/hospital with incandescent down lighters in the ceilings (because they looked better) something like 400 of them – My recommendation had been recessed .fluorescents because they lasted longer.

However the cost of running the down lighters was horrendous – and they used to ‘blow’ very regularly. Eventually it was decided to replace the down lighters – The resultant fluorescents were much brighter and used almost a quarter of the electricity.

Profile photo of ChrisGloucester
Member

Pickle,
Check out ebay. It’s possible to get LED’s with all kinds of fittings, and you can also buy adaptors.
Be careful though some come direct from China or Hong Kong, and some (but not all) don’t last. I’d suggest paying just a little more and getting then from a UK source. Mostly still made in China but at least you’ve a chance of a refund if they’re no good.

Profile photo of dave d
Member

Regarding my earlier comment and Richard’s response 2 posts up: I wish it was as easy as checking the Wattage of the appliances, but sadly this is not the case, at least not with washing machines: it is about the ridiculous length of the wash cycles on new washers (or so I was informed by the lady at EST): the wash cycles are incredibly long (apparently to ensure adequate cleaning using such tiny amounts of water) and this means that the motor and most especially the heater in the machine is in operation for many many times longer than in older machines which used much shorter wash times. Newer machines take in only cold water (Which? points out on the main site in an article about washing efficiently that this is NOT economical but manufacturers insist that it is) and then heat it up electrically, so you are on to a loser before the cycle even starts compared to older machines which took in hot water to start with. Then the wash times are longer so the water has to be re-heated during the wash to keep it at the set temperature. Even on a 40 degree wash this means that the machine can use more than an old fashioned one did for a 60 degree cycle. Then there is the power used to keep the motor turning the drum for the lengthened cycle time. In some modern machines the motor uses much less power than the motors in older machines, but these tend to be the most expensive models; cheaper models use the same old motors. So if you buy a super top of the range model with a really low energy motor, and always wash at 30, on a quick wash cycle, you might perhaps find that your new machine uses no more electricity than your old one, but if you have a cheaper machine, with a less efficient motor, and if you wash at 40 or 60 and / or use standard length cycles, it seems from my research that you will almost be guaranteed to use more electricity.
However, to put this into sharp focus for this particular discussion thread, it has taken be over 2 years of battling against manufacturers, retailers, the EST, Trading Standards and one Government Minister (pre election) to get these facts and I think most readers on here will agree that Joe Bloggs Mr. Average should not have to go through that rigmarole (and almost certainly 99% or Joe Bloggs won’t) just to get at the real hard facts. Most people will just buy a machine which they can afford, plug in a switch on and then wonder why their bills have gone up (or at best stayed the same) when the marketing suggested that they would save fuel and money.

The other “get out” that manufacturers in particular use is the A to G ratings: if you read these carefully manufacturers rarely rate in the same way as each other, an especially common trick with washing machines is to quote the energy / water consumption per kilo of washing, not for an actual cycle, and to quote it on a particular programme. If you then run the machine on a different programme you get a different consumption and if you run the machine with less load in you will again get a different value. In most cases that I have looked at the only way to find out which cycle is used to obtain the A to G rating s is to read the instruction book, which usually you can’t do until after you have bought the machine and got it home and unpacked it, by which time it’s a bit too late to change your mind. As an example the machine which I bought and was so disappointed with claimed A** (yes A double-star) electricity consumption but to get this you had to use a cycle called “Boiling Care” which was a 90 degree cottons cycle and you had to use it with a full 7Kg load and NO extra options such as quick wash or extra rinse, etc.

Which? says that most people now wash at 40 degrees: if you washed at 40 degrees in that particular model the energy consumption was very different indeed, doubtless partly because at 40 the machine took over an hour for the wash phase of the cycle, using so little water that you could hardly tell there was any in the drum, compared to just 21 minutes on the “boiling care” cycle with water up to the bottom of the door.

Compare that to a Miele model that I recently looked at in the shops: on that machine the A* rating was achieved on a 60 degree cottons cycle running with a full load, but on that machine a full load is only 5.5 Kg. I have no idea how long that takes nor how much water it uses, nor do I know how the Miele does on the 40 degree cycle, but you can already see that it is like comparing an apple with a banana: you simple cannot do it with the information which is made available to Joe Bloggs public.

Also, my example here refers to electrical appliances, which are relatively easy to monitor if you have a mind to, with an Energy Monitor. Other appliances, such as Gas Boilers, seem to fall into the same trap of the distinction between EFFICIENCY and SAVING but it is impossible for the general public to monitor fuel consumption of these (other than the crude comparison of bills from one quarter to the next).

Hopefully even my two posts and Richard’s in between will emphasise to all readers, especially Which? staff, the scale of this minefield and prompt some powerful calls for legally binding rules about explicitly stating consumption figures.

Whilst I am on ….. Pickle mentions LED lighting: you CAN get Bayonet Cap (BC) and Edison Screw (ES) LED bulbs, but they are not widely stocked yet (plenty of on line shops if you Google them though) and they are rather pricey. I have not yet seen Small Edison Screw (SES) ones. Also the ones available so far seem to be mainly coloured ones intended for things like festoon lighting, although white ones are available if you look carefully.

Hopefully these will become more widely available very soon as LED lighting is much much better than CFL in terms of ease (and environmental impact) of disposal when worn out and also in terms of size, which often means that CFL bulbs won’t physically fit inside light fittings.

Profile photo of richard
Member

Yet more excellent info – thanks.

I actually normally use 40 degrees though sometimes 30 and always a full load (the trick is lots of similar clothing.) – My AEG allows a number of different timing cycles – from 1 hour to 2 hr 30 mins – with a visible time elapsed indicator As my wash is rarely dirty then most is short low temperature wash. Though very occasionally I’ll use a 60 degree wash for whites.say once in 4 months.

I do compare like with like bills to check consumption – that is January with January.

I would certainly like to see Which? Staff comment on this – as it certainly an eye opener.

Profile photo of Hazel Cottrell
Member

Wow thanks for all your comments.

Richard – I like the idea that keeping the heating off is a slimming aid, although I’m not sure how much time being cold I could put up with to lose weight!

Andrew Brown – I agree with your statement ‘I don’t think we should be reducing our quality of life for a few kWh per year’ – If I’m going to make the effort to change my behaviour/lifestyle, I want to know that it’s going to make a significant difference.

And Dave D – that is a long list of disappointments! Almost enough to put anyone off energy saving for good. I really admire your determination in getting to the bottom of things. I’ve passed on the washing machine issues you’ve raised and our washing machines expert is looking into them.

I certainly agree that there is a lack of clarity when it comes to energy saving in general. At Which? we are planning to investigate which actions really do save you energy, and hope to present the ‘real facts’ later this year. Although, like you say Dave D, this area is somewhat of a ‘minefield’ so getting to the truth could prove tricky! I’ll keep you posted on how we get on.

As for energy saving light bulbs, I think most people (myself included) have experienced that frustrating feeling of waiting for them to light the room properly. BUT, they have improved significantly over the last few years.

Has anyone tried any of our Best Buy energy saving light bulbs? We test how much light each bulb actually gives out and how long it takes to start up, so you know what you’re getting.

And of course, all your messages about not wasting things are spot on – anything we can do to reduce our wastage of energy, food and other resources must surely help the environment, and out wallets.

Profile photo of richard
Member

Hazel.

It is just lowering the temperature not necessarily switching heating completely off that is the slimming aid – The body needs to maintain 98.4 degrees – so if ambient temperature is lowish not cold the blood is pumped round faster to raise the body temperature to 98.4 – this increase in circulation uses more energy hence slims

Profile photo of Vivienne Fitzroy
Member

Thanks for all the washing machine comments and yes, it’s quite tricky to directly compare older machines and newer machines efficiency. As dave d has said cold fill machines are the norm now and manufacturers have all but stopped making hot fill machines. So new washers are now using energy to heat water which previously hot fill machine weren’t – but this water was being heated elsewhere in your system, so there was a cost/consumption attached to this, just not linked specifically to the machine itself. Heating the water for a wash does account for a significant chunk of the energy usage so in one respect it’s right to think of new machines as consuming more energy – but this has to be offset against the cost no longer being incurred to heat water from your central system or boiler.

Overall washing machines are generally more efficient than older ones in other respects – with regard to how much energy they use to turn the drum etc. Increasingly machines nowadays also use fuzzy logic – where they weigh and, in some cases, detect how dirty the laundry is and adjust the amount of water used and heated, and the duration of the program to suit the load. This means that they’re not wasting energy by running a standard program no matter what the load. For machines that don’t come with these sensor programs, our tests show that filling your machine to capacity is a good way of using it efficiently we generally see a drop off in efficiency on half loads.

We agree that energy labelling is certainly confusing and we don’t think the current system is particularly helpful. But there is a legal requirement upon washing machine manufacturers to test a 60 degree program for their energy rating label and this is what the energy label refers to. You will see other claims about machines and other programs on their website and packaging – for example they might say a particular machines uses X% less energy, but this often refers to a Eco program when you read more detail, and so things can get very confusing indeed. But, having said that the official label will always refer to a 60 degree wash.

But our research shows that most people wash at 40 degrees so the current label isn’t really particularly useful if you’re not going to use this program much. As dave d rightly points out, different programs on the same machine will have varying levels of energy efficiency. That’s why we carry out our own energy and water consumption tests. Which? rate washers based on how much energy and water they use on their 40 degree cotton and easy-care main programs as theses are the most commonly used temperature and programs. People are switching to 30 degrees more, particularly with advances in detergents that clean well on lower temperatures, but 40 remains the most popular and frequently used at the moment.

New regulations for energy labels are currently being scrutinised by the European parliament and Council and in the future we’ll see energy labels rating from G through to A+ ( which is 10% more efficient than A) and A++ ( 20% more efficient than A) and A+++ ( 30% more efficient). Manufacturer’s won’t be required to have this for at least another year or so, but they can start using this before then. So there might be some confusion while we transition from the existing scheme to the new scheme. More reason to stick with our own star ratings for energy and water use which tell you exactly what to expect on the 40 degrees programs when you get the machine home! There are also some proposals to move from testing a 60 degree wash to rating a combination of 60 and 40 degree programs but this hasn’t been agreed as yet.

Profile photo of dave d
Member

Really useful and interesting to see Hazel and Vivienne’s input here – and Hazel, regarding the Which? tested light bulbs yes I have (and do) used some of these (and some others too) and yes I agree fully that they are much better than earlier ones. I switched to 100% CFL bulbs some years ago now, despite the brightness and start up time issues, but only now, as quite a few of my earliest purchases are reaching the end of their life, have I discovered the issues about disposing of “spent” CFL lamps. It seems that this is (yet another) example of conflict between different environmental improvement issues: we can use less energy – which has got to be good – but (in this case) the impact of disposing of the used lamps counter-acts the energy savings, and being that these are not like-for-like issues, working out the overall benefit (or negative impact) is nigh on impossible for Joe Bloggs to do. I guess that there could also be an increase in fly tipping to: I refuse to pay to recycle rubbish (after all, I pay my council tax which is supposed to cover household waste removal) and the council won’t take them in the bin, so I take mine to work where there is a skip for Fluorescent tubes and I pop them in there – but what will people do who don’t have a convenient place to take them like that? My guess is that some folk will just drop them into the nearest woodland or something.

Going back to the washers and Vivienne’s response. Your point about heating the water by some other system is true as far as it goes, but it takes no account whatever of people who have solar water heating, which is becoming ever more common and indeed Which? have even done some reports about such systems. If (like me) you have solar water heating (I’ve had mine for about 5 years now) and you are getting more than 80 gallons of water heated to anything between 30 degrees on a cold winter day with a few hours of sun and 85 degrees (which is the hottest the system will heat to before it shuts down for safety reasons) on a long summer day, it is incredibly frustrating not to mention completely senseless to be forced to use electricity to heat the water for washing your laundry. This is, without question, why my ancient machine that was very sadly worn out beyond repair in 2008 was so cheap to run, and also why the 23 year old second hand one that I have now bought to replace the utterly useless EST recommended one is also so cheap to run. Between June 6th and today I have reduced my electricity consumption by almost £45 (according to my energy monitor) on WASHING alone by having this ancient machine back. Now, someone explain to me how a new machine can possibly be “greener” in that situation?

Incidentally, no matter what type of water heating system you have, having a shower taht is plumbed in to the domestic hgot water, rather than an electric one, will always be cheaper to run according to my plumber – does Which? have any plans for comparisons of tehse two types of shower? Do other readers have a view here? My shower is pumped from my hot water cyclinder so it’s free to use in summer when I don’t have the boiler on at all, and it is clearly getting some benefit from teh Solar heating even in winter.

Also, can I take the opportunity to advocate Miele dishwashers here – I have done quite a lot of research into dishwashers for my own benefit and it seems that every big name brand of Dishwasher CAN be connected to a hot water supply but Miele seem to be the only company who explicitly URGE you to do this in the instructions. My Miele dishwasher (about 4 years old now) sails through the dishes in a much shorter time than my old Bosch machine because it uses hot water and of course this also greatly reduces the electricity used too. Obviously if you don’t have solar water heating there is the same trade-off to evaluate that Vivienne mentioned about hot fill washers, but I reckon it’s still worth looking into carefully.

However, that is only on the issue of the hot water filling. The washing machine that was such a dead loss for me was also made mainly of plastic parts, so now that I have sent it to the tip that will be having a much worse impact on the environment than the one I scrapped in 2008 which was almost 100% metal parts which could be recycled, and it also did not make good use of water as it had all this modern fuzzy logic malarky but, and it was a Which? tested model though not, if I recall correctly a Best Buy, just as Which? say in virtually every report on washers that I have read in the last 3 years, rinses were so utterly diabolical that I had to run at least 1 and usually 2 extra rinse cycles on every wash just to stand a chance of getting any soap out at all. This means that the modern too-clever-by-half systems to reduce water actually ended up using more water because of the need to do the extra rinses.

On top of all those frustrations the time taken to wash, which may or may not have added to the excessive energy consumption, was so long that in my current machine I can do 3 loads in the time that did one. That means that on a good drying day I can have 3 loads washed and dried out doors on the line, but with the disappointing model I could only get one done (maybe 2 if it was a non-working day) and then as likely as not the following day would be wet and I’d have to dry indoors. I refuse to have a tumble dryer because of the energy consumption, and if I dry indoors I DON’T put the central heating on just to dry the clothes, but amongst all my work colleagues and my friends and neighbours I am in a very tiny minority of people who don’t use a Dryer and / or put the heating on – so there is another negative impact on the environment caused by having a (supposedly) efficient appliance.

Sorry – I must get off my soap box, but for anyone who has not already realised for themselves how hard it is to accurately work out how much energy you can save and how much you can reduce your impact on the environment, this woeful tale must surely serve to emphasise what a thankless and near-impossible task it is to do the right thing.

In the same way I know that my neighbours are bitterly disappointed in their gas boiler (as far as I know they did not consult Which? on that – it was a British Gas “deal” of some kind) and the doubling of their gas bills compared to a 14 (ish) year old “back boiler” which doesn’t even appear on the SEDBUK scale. They are now even talking of going for all-electric heating in the hope that they can get a system that runs more economically.

It’s enough to make you weep it really is!

P.S. just proof reading my comment I see that I have not made it clear why I sent the “new” washer to the tip – it wasn’t just because of the energy use (though that was a tempting reason): it blew up spectacularly 3 times in less than 20 months (and it had a 2 year parts and labour warranty) but the first and 2nd repairs took over 9 weeks to get the parts from the manufacturer and the 3rd time it went they refused to log a service call because being utterly “dead” it did not display an error code and the rude man at their call centre said that he could not log a call without an error code, so I ditched it. I made Which? aware of the model, the maker and all the rest and asked them to take this into account when reviewing machines from that brand in the future, and the Which? legal team were also helpful on the 2nd repair in getting things speeded up a bit, but it just wasn’t worth it in the end.

Profile photo of beehive03
Member

I would like to know how much energy, and water, is lost in the pipes from the boiler to the point of use of the hot water. With the multipoint boilers unless you live in a very well designed house with very short pipe runs to where the hot water is required then a considerable time lag will be experienced before hot water comes out, all that cold water has been heated and that cost should be taken into account when buying a new boiler and siting appliances and sinks.

Profile photo of dave d
Member

Well said beehive03! My neighbours (who had the unpleasant gas bill) had the old Hot Water Cylinder taken our when they had a combi boiler put in. The old cylinder was in the bathroom, about 18 inches away from the sink hot tap and about 2 foot 6 inches away from the hot bath tap. The Kitchen sink was on the floor below exactly underneath the cylinder and the pipe ran down the wall in a straight line. The washer used to be next to the sink in the kitchen.
The new combi boiler is on the landing of all places, and the pipes now run across the width of the landing, under the landing floor, along to the bathroom and then up through the floor below the basin and bath and the pipes to the kitchen run down the corner of the stair well at the front of the house, under the hall floor and then run the length fo the house to the off-shot kitchen at the back and up through the floor to the sink.
I doubt very much that his has accounted for the huge bill but is certainly won’t have helped.
I won’t name the installer who planned this layout but it was a very well known boilers supplier and installer!.

Member
Sophie Gilbert says:
1 September 2010

This isn’t the only thing we can do to save energy, but it’s the least we can do: if millions and millions and millions of people switch off the light when they leave a room, surely it’s going to register on the big scale, if not on the miniscule scale an individual energy monitor. Don’t be discouraged, no effort is too small. Then have a go at tackling bigger things, but don’t let them do your head in.

Tackling bigger things also means tackling what is done by others than ourselves. What are local authorities doing about excessive or wasteful street lighting for example?

Profile photo of terfar
Member

We have all energy efficient white goods and have change most of our lights to low energy. Even our outside lights are now 4 Watt LED downlighters (fitted in the soffits) – a huge improvement over 500W quartz lighting and they LED downlighters look great.

But we still had a background consumption of over 150W. Investigation with a cheap 13 Amp plug-in energy monitor revealed that our old network routers, aerial amplifiers, TV and set top box were all adding to this. We switched from a wired network to wireless networking, purchased new ‘green’ aerial amplifiers and now switch off the TV and Tuner at the mains. Our background consumption is barely 40W.

Something that I am surprised about is the central heating pump: this used 85W and I cannot find any with a greener consumption. Surely a central heating pump doesn’t need 85W to pump hot water around the system!

Profile photo of Patrick Steen
Member

Chris Huhne of the Liberal Democrats has said the government will create 250,000 jobs with a green push to get free insulation in homes. This is something that could make a difference, as quite a lot will be saved on energy bills. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-11380865

Profile photo of ChrisGloucester
Member

Patrick
“250,000 jobs with a green push to get free insulation in homes”.
Don’t hold your breath.

A lot of home insulation is already free for the most vunerable (over 70 or on benefits) and pretty cheap for everyone else.
The new “Green deal” won’t be free, it will be a loan. I don’t think it’s going to work, especially if people who could currently get free insulation suddenly find there is a loan involved.
Ok no up front cost but no energy bill saving either because the savings go to pay off the loan and with interest too.

Also don’t see where these jobs are coming from either, sales people, surveyors and installers already exist to provide insulation and are not at capacity under the current system. So where are these new jobs supposed to be coming from?

Profile photo of helenmuir
Member

Nobody has mentioned furniture recycling schemes. I work for one of the most successful in the country, in South Shropshire, collecting donated furniture which is renovated, creating training and jobs, and sold very cheaply to people on low incomes. Recently we opened a new shop in Shrewsbury entirely stocked with items destined for the tip! One of our staff was posted by the tip every weekend, approaching locals with their trailers of unwanted furniture which seemed to have potential and loading them up for the workshop to deal with. Quality furniture items are sold at higher prices to raise funds. Anything used in the home is also accepted, from kitchen equipement to curtains so a homeless person being rehoused can completely refurnish their new home for a pittance.
These schemes exist all over the country and save thousands of tons from landfill.

Member
DennisS says:
22 January 2011

I find the points made on the energy efficiency of new vs old washing machines rather interesting. I am desperately hoping that “my old Bosch”, which has hot and cold fill will keep going a lot longer, as I find that new models have cold fill only. I notice that a 40C wash fills from the hot water, while a 30C wash fills only cold. I am convinced (but challenge this) that it is cheaper for me to heat water with gas than with electricity in the UK. So, for those who have mains gas, it is cheaper to use a 40C wash, than to fill up with cold and heat the water to 30C using electricty. On the continent, fewer people use mains gas than in the UK. Why does Which? not campaign for the re-introduction by manufacturers of hot & cold fill, so that we in the UK market have a choice?