I once knew a farmer who used to get the best out of his labourers by putting his laziest hands on the job first. Being lazy they would find the easiest and less effortful way to do the work – whether it be pitching hay or raising spuds – then he’d tell the others to follow their lead.
The moral is using your head saves your back, and when it comes to home economy it can also save you money. And in these days of galloping fuel costs – don’t hold your breath for a government cap on gas and electric charges! – a few tips on energy conservation wouldn’t go amiss. So, I asked the meanest skinflint I know – a modern day Ebenezer Scrooge – for his advice. Here’s what he recommends:
Turn it down
If Health & Safety law applied to the home as it does to the workplace 16°C would be a perfectly acceptable indoor temperature, but I’m willing to bet that yours is at least 20°C. You could turn your thermostat down a couple of degrees without noticing the difference – except in your heating bills which would be drastically reduced! And what’s wrong with wearing a sweater in the winter months, or even the cooler summer evenings?
Close that door
You’d be surprised how many people have the heating on full and leave doors and windows open, letting all that expensive heat escape! OK, your home should be well ventilated, but properly programmed a HVAC system will air your home as well as warm it. And if you have fresh air fiends or hot house plants amongst your family members, think about installing a smart system where you can set different climate zones throughout the house.
Get into the habit of switching off lights when you leave a room. It’s careless – and costly – to leave hall, kitchen and bathroom lights blazing when you’ve settled down in the sitting room for the evening. And speaking of lights, why not switch to energy efficient lighting rather than traditional incandescent bulbs? They may cost a fraction more up front, but they use less power and last ten times longer. By comparison, cheap ‘rough service’ bulbs are really a false economy.
Share a bath
Heating hot water accounts for about 25% of energy use in most households, so try and reduce the amount you use: by sharing a bath or spending less time in the shower. When it comes to the weekly wash (your clothes not your body!) washing at a lower temperature will use less electricity. Washing at 30°C rather than 40°C can save you a third of the cost to run the cycle. And it’s not just your fuel bills you’re saving on – you’ll also see the difference in your water rates.
Be gadget savvy
We live in an ‘always on’ society, and get impatient if our gadgets and appliances aren’t always charged up and ready to go. At work it’s one thing, but at home its quite another. Unless you’re a couch potato or video game addict you really don’t need your TV or PC on stand-by all the time. Switch it off when you’re not using it and save power. The same goes smart phones and tablets. Unplug them when they’re charged. Otherwise they overheat and go on consuming electricity