Most of us will know that the utility bills we pay are among the most expensive of our monthly bills. Not only do they hurt the pocket but there is often a lot of wasted power, especially with electricity. Therefore, to live a more sustainable life and save money, you should look at how to conserve and produce energy in your home.
There are lots of little steps you can take to conserve energy, waste less and cut back, to reduce your utility bills.
Use natural lighting and fresh air
The best source of light is the natural light we receive from the sun. While it may often be masked by clouds, it is great to use when producing enough sufficient light. Natural light is the best way to light your home and doesn’t cost anything. So open up those blinds, pull the curtains back and ensure plenty of that natural light can get into your home. It can also help warm the house in cooler months.
In the same way, open those windows and let the airflow through the home rather than using air conditioning systems. Open windows don’t cost anything, and the airflow is less likely to contain any bacteria that can build up in air-con units.
Turn off lights when leaving the room
There are times when using lights is unavoidable, especially in winter, but a way to help conserve energy is to turn off lights when leaving the room. Doing this means you’re saving energy and money. It will also make the bulb last longer and can even remove the risk of problems such as fires from electrical circuits. If you are a fan of smart technology, you can get connected lightbulbs with motion sensors that turn off when you leave the room.
Switch to LED bulbs
There’s a reason that people are switching to LED bulbs – well, actually a few reasons. For starters, they last a lot longer than conventional bulbs. Yes, the initial cost is more but they definitely pay this back over time. They are also far more energy efficient:
Get a Smart Meter
Often utility companies provide them for free. This has been the case in the UK for the last few years. Smart meters show real-time energy usage so you can see your consumption at any time. This will help educate you on the consumption of individual items and help you be more energy efficient. An added benefit is you won’t have to manually supply regular meter readings to your energy supplier, as this is automated.
Energy Efficient Appliances
When it comes to replacing any appliance that uses electricity, look at the energy efficiency of the new one before buying. From kettles to fridges, washing machines, dishwashers, and even boilers, they all have to have a rating on them with ‘A’ being the best.
Use that capacity
It can be tempting to run a dishwasher half full or just put a half load into the washing machine, but this is a waste of power. Instead, make sure you use everything to capacity, even if it means leaving some dirty dishes from lunch lying in the dishwasher, until dinner. That way you get the most out of the electricity used and save water.
Check your home’s insulation
One of the biggest causes of wasted energy is poor insulation. Heat rises, vanishes through the roof and is lost. Therefore looking at the quality and thickness of the insulation in your roof or loft can be key to improving the home’s energy efficiency.
Produce your own power
The other big element to being sustainable is looking to create your own power – electricity. There are lots of renewable options that can be used in almost any home for general electricity. This will cut down utility bills and even make money selling unused power back to the grid. In the UK, the Feed-In-Tariff (FIT) is a scheme run by the government that will pay you a set amount for each unit of electricity you produce, such as from solar panels or wind turbines.
A solar panel can be used to heat hot water and works alongside an existing system. This means when there is sunlight, you can generate power to create hot water and not need to use gas and electricity to heat your boiler. You may need to get a new tank that works with this kind of system and to have the panel facing within 90 degrees of due south.
This is another type of solar panel that creates electricity from sunlight. You have the panels fitted to the roof so again a 90-degree of south angle is needed. It can be expensive to set up but the costs have drastically fallen in recent years. The benefit is each unit of electricity you produce is a unit you won’t have to buy. An added bonus is, if you generate more power than you use, normally your utility company will pay you for the electricity you export to the grid. I had a photovoltaic system installed some 10 years ago. The equipment and installation cost a lot more than it does now. However, I continue to benefit from the more generous Government Feed-In-Tariff rates, offered then. It’s certainly been one of the best investments I have made.
Most of the time wind turbines are massive things seen in hilly fields or at sea. However, smaller versions are becoming available and if you live in the right kind of area, they may be worth considering for producing electricity for the home. There can be restrictions about where you can put them with planning permission or local regulations, so check this first.
These use the principles of refrigeration (vapour compression) to create heat from water, ground or air and then transfer it to an electric pump. Little maintenance is available, but the cost is variable depending on what source you want to use. You do want to make sure your home is well-insulated if you go with this idea.
Not everyone will be able to produce their own electricity but it is definitely something worth investigating. We can certainly all do more to conserve it and make our homes more energy efficient. In doing so, we will use fewer resources and save money.