There’s no doubt that the UK is moving towards a more sustainable way of life. We should expect to see more measures like the government’s recent plans to reduce our carbon emissions by 34% in the next 11 years and by 80% before 2050 by using more renewable energy.
Fines could even be on the cards for companies and households which fail to do their bit. But introducing an ethical element to your everyday life can be easy to do and can have a very positive effect on your financial health.
1) Reduce energy consumption
Cutting back your energy usage is easier than you might expect. Only boiling the water you need rather than filling up the kettle is a great place to start. Turn off lights, TVs, personal computers, music systems and don’t forget to unplug mobile phone and other chargers when you’ve finished with them as they still suck up energy. You can even get remote-controlled plugs that will turn off all the appliances linked to it with the click of a button. They cost around £20 - £25 from high street hardware and department stores.
Electricity monitors will tell you how much you’re using, and can even tell you what it is costing you each day. In fact, by 2020, the government has plans to install smart meters in every UK household, at a cost to consumers of £5 each. The technology will allow you and your energy provider to monitor your energy usage, and will mean an end to estimated bills. The move should mean a cut to average energy bills by 3% a year and reduce the UK’s annual CO2 emissions by an enormous 2.6 million tonnes.
And as for your thermostat – reducing the temperature in your home by just one degree could reduce your energy bills by 4% a year!
2) Insulate your home
Adding double glazing or upgrading your old boiler can make a huge difference. Even properly insulating your loft can reduce the average household energy bill by £150 and 800g of CO2 a year, according to the Energy Saving Trust.
Other measures like installing solar panels and domestic wind turbines can be expensive, but you may find that the government or your local authority may help with the cost. In fact, UK energy companies are obliged to help your find ways of cutting your energy use, including offering advice and in some cases help meet costs.
3) Reduce water usage
To cut down water usage, and your bill, first know how much you’re using. Showers use a third as much water as a bath, and a brick in the toilet cistern will reduce the amount of water used to flush.
Extra tip – why not catch rainwater to use in the garden or to clean the car.
4) Small changes make a big difference
Simple things you can do to help include buying food locally and using your own bags to bring it home. This not only supports your local community, but it doesn’t cost the earth in ‘food miles’ so you may find it is cheaper.
Why not take part in the craze for growing your own and costs could fall even further, as could fixing items you might have otherwise thrown away. And remember to get the kids involved in your new found green lifestyle. Not only is it a great way to learn everything from science to budgeting, but it could encourage the habit of a lifetime.
5) Do it together
Using public transport or even adopting a car share scheme can dramatically cut down your CO2 emissions. And with the cost of fuel on the rise again – not to mention the cost of tax, parking and insurance – you could save a small fortune in transport costs, especially if there are season or multiple ticket deals on offer. Better yet, walking or cycling is cheaper still, and can dramatically improve your health.
6) Last but not least – shop around!
All energy providers have green energy tariffs, in which they use a certain percentage of renewable electricity, or plant trees to help offset carbon emissions. Specialist providers such as Good Energy UK aim to provide up to 100% renewable energy to their users. Check the details of each offer to make sure it fits with your own ethical aims.
Top tip - you can look at green tariffs using the handy filter on our results page, and can also see the % of energy from renewable sources by looking at the suppliers’ fuel mix (under ‘more info’).