One thing is a sure sign of winter being here: a soaring power bill. Over winter, the lights go on more, we crank up the heaters and we cook more hot food. How do you stop the madness?
Even over summer, saving electricity is important. Not only does saving power save a few pennies, it also helps the environment, particularly if your power is generated by a coal, gas or oil-fired plant (and even if you live off the grid and rely on solar power, some days, you’ll need to save power so you’ve got enough). Here’s a few tips – big things and small things – that we can do to save electricity.
* If you’re boiling the kettle to make a cuppa, don’t fill the kettle more than you need (but make sure that you have the minimum amount in). You only need to boil the water you’re going to use – the energy taken to heat that extra water will just go to waste.
* Cook carefully. If you’re cooking a roast in the oven, try and cook as many other things in there as well to save switching on more elements and make the most of the energy you are using. The same goes for cooking on top of the stove – a steamer that fits above a saucepan allows you to boil one thing (e.g. pasta) down the bottom, while the steam rising into the top compartment will cook some of your vegetables.
* Don’t leave electronic and entertainment gadgets sitting on standby. They may not be using as much electricity when they are “asleep” but they do use some. Switch them off at the wall. Even items that use a lot of electricity to start up should be switched off overnight.
* Don’t stand staring into the fridge with the door open while you decide what you want to eat. Think first and then open it up – and close it quickly.
* Let food cool down before putting it into the refrigerator or the freezer. Otherwise, the cooling unit will have to work harder to pull the heat out of the item and get rid of it, which takes electricity.
* Use cold water to wash your laundry – this has the added bonus of stopping many stains from setting. Also when doing your regular domestic cleaning London, try to use as less hot water as possible.
* Lag the pipe of your hot water cylinder to insulate it – a good use for an old blanket.
* Don’t use an electric blanket on your bed. Use a hot water bottle or a wheat pack instead, or else put on an extra blanket of the ordinary kind, use flannelette sheets and cosy pyjamas.
* Pull the curtains when the sun goes down to trap the heat of the sun in the house (and close the windows, too). This is also good for your privacy.
* Limit the time you spend in the shower. Perhaps you could get away with shaving your legs every second day, or you could rinse your hair in cold water in the sink afterwards? Also limit the number of hot baths you have – a weekly treat, maybe, instead of a daily soak?
* Heat your body instead of heating the air in a room (unless you have infants, elderly folk or unwell people in your home). Do some exercise to get the blood warming and pumping through your system, pull on a warm jersey or (if you’re going to be sitting down at a desk or in front of the TV) put a hot water bottle on your midriff. If cold hands or feet are a problem thanks to circulation problems, have a bit of cayenne pepper (followed by a glass of milk to lessen the heat in your mouth) to get the blood flowing again to your extremities. It works!
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