With energy costs increasing every year – up to eight times faster than average earnings, the Guardian reports – it’s more important than ever to make sure that your home is as energy-efficient as possible, and electricity prices aren’t the only reason. Using less energy reduces the amount of harmful carbon emissions your home is responsible for: while some changes to energy use are large and obvious, much of the waste in your house is caused by small, unconscious habits. Here are some of the worst – and how to break them.
1) Devices on Standby
If your house is like most British households, your lounge is full of appliances on standby, from stereos to televisions and game consoles. Although a television or computer in sleep mode doesn’t use up a lot of electricity, it does use it constantly. Even this small trickle of power can add up over days and weeks. An Energy Saving Trust study showed that 71% of British householders leave appliances on standby when they’re not in use. Energy nonprofit Ebico estimates that this could cost them as much as £75 or more in electricity every year. Fortunately, the solution is simple: turn the device off using the manual switch every time. Better yet, switch it off at the wall. If this means you can’t turn a TV or games console on without thinking about it, is that really such a bad thing?
2) On the Boil
No British day is complete without a few cups of tea to keep energy levels up. Unfortunately, making tea can also be very wasteful. Water boiled that isn’t used for tea simply represents wasted energy. Nonetheless, two thirds of British householders report that they habitually boil more water than they need. Breaking this habit simple, and only requires that you have a good idea of how much water is needed for your cuppa. Try filling up your mug with water, then pouring it into the kettle. Fill it to the brim to account for the small amount of water that will be lost as steam, or put in a little extra.
Just like appliances on standby, chargers for devices such as mobile phones or tablets use up a steady trickle of electricity even when they’re not in use. Most people leave them continually plugged in for convenience – according to the Energy Saving Trust, nearly two-thirds of households do this. The amount of electricity used isn’t huge, but with several chargers in a house it can add up over time. Even if the cost is small, it’s being paid for nothing.
4) Buying Bad Bulbs
They may be less expensive on the supermarket shelf, but if you’re still using incandescent bulbs in your home’s lights, you’re wasting money. Energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs cost more individually, but they use less energy and last much longer. If your home hasn’t yet made the switchover, you’re wasting money out of habit.
5) Leaving the Lights On
Most of us can remember being told by our parents not to leave the lights on when we left a room. At the time, it probably seemed unreasonable. However, with adulthood comes seeing the electricity bills. All of a sudden, it doesn’t seem so ridiculous any more – and yet, over 60% of UK households report leaving the lights on in empty rooms. Even if you’ve replaced your old incandescent bulbs, this is still a drain.
Some of these bad energy habits are more severe than others, but working to change them can help to make you more aware of your energy consumption, conserving electricity and saving money.
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