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Give Us Some Energy

As well as hands-on workshops, we like to offer what might be termed information events. Like our recent Energy Saving workshop, with Garry Peters from Home Energy Scotland.

Now we are going to hazard a guess that you mostly know how to save energy. Over the past few months, it would have actually been quite hard NOT to pick up a few tips as we all tried every trick in the book to save money.

Saving money was an excellent reason to come to the workshop, but, of course, if you cut down on your use of fuel you are also going to reduce your carbon footprint, and go some way to averting the climate crisis. Many of our workshops actually have that win-win – good for your wallet and good for the planet.

Let’s just have a quick recap.

We all – and by ‘all’, we mean the whole world – need to stop using fossil fuels and get to net zero.

Fossil fuels are anything that comes from the ground, so that includes petrol, diesel, gas, coal.

Net zero means cutting greenhouse gas emissions to as close to zero as possible, with any remaining emissions re-absorbed from the atmosphere. Emissions can be re-absorbed by oceans and forests, but that’s a whole new blog. For now, let’s stick with reducing our emissions and saving money.

Ah, we hear you say, so often to save money long term you need to have available cash in the first place. Very true, and we will come to that later, but, first, let’s consider six behaviour changes that Garry suggested that come at no, or minimal, cost.

1. Draught proofing. This can be as simple as closing doors and windows and pulling the curtains shut. Draught excluders are great and you maybe know that we make them here at the Wardrobe from old pairs of jeans

Average annual saving: £60

2. Turning off appliances at the wall at night. Just a new habit to get into,.

Average annual saving: £65

3. Spending one minute less in the shower each day. Not only saving you money, what might you do with the extra 365 minutes (six hours).

Average annual saving: £11

4. Turning your heating down from 22 degrees to 21 degrees. Would you really notice the difference? A healthy temperature is 18 – 21 degrees though, or course, we all have our own sweet spot. Such a pity that so often people sharing one home don’t have the same sweet spot, but that’s another story …….

Average annual saving: £145 (yes, that’s the big one!)

5. Setting your washing machine to 30 degrees. Most detergents are designed for lower temperatures nowadays, so no problem there. The majority of the cost of each wash comes from the machine heating up the water so washing at 30 degrees uses around 40% less energy.

Average annual saving: £17

6. Dry your clothes on a line, rather than in a tumble dryer. If you are lucky enough to have a place for a washing line, use it. If not, place your indoor drying rack beside an open window whenever possible. And, yes, we do know it rains in Scotland!

Average annual saving: £70

These six behavioural changes will cut £368 off your energy bill each year.

They will also amount to a saving of 430 kg CO2e

Figures vary, but it is generally accepted that the average person in the UK has a carbon footprint of 13 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year. Do you think that a saving of 430 kg is going to make a difference? It might not be a huge percentage, but if every single one of us did it, the cumulative effect would be enormous.

Change is coming. By 2025 new houses will no longer have gas installed so gas boilers will soon be a thing of the past. In the meantime make sure yours is working to its full potential. Over the course of time radiators get bunged up with dirt and fluff. If yours feel hot at the bottom but cold at the top, you’ve got a problem. Your boiler is having to work harder which will knock a few years off its life. Could be time to get your radiators cleaned, or even replaced.

No gas means our homes will be powered solely by electricity, which is a renewable source, causes no emissions and works to 100% efficiency. You’re probably aware of air source heat pumps – basically a big fan that sits outside your house and draws in cold air. Its mechanism acts in the opposite way to a fridge, so it takes the cold air and converts it to hot water which goes into your tank and is pumped round your heating system.

If you have bought or sold a house recently, you will know that each property has an efficiency rating, A-G. The average house in Scotland has a D rating, so bang in the middle. The Scottish Government is committed to getting all rented property up to band C by December 2028.

What is key to increasing the energy efficiency of your home? Good insulation. If the heat is not escaping, you are using less of it so are producing fewer emissions. We all know about loft insulation, but actually you lose more heat through your walls, just because they cover a bigger surface area.

This is a lot to take in, but help is at hand. Home Energy Scotland’s website is full of advice and is a great place to start. There are grants and loans available so take a look and see what you are entitled to.

Since our project is all about carbon savings, let’s take a quick look at how else we can reduce our carbon footprint by making home improvements. These things all take an initial injection of cash, so while it goes without saying that you will save money in the long run, we are not all in the position of being able to make these changes now. And that’s OK. But, for your interest – and once again we are talking averages!

Loft insulation (from zero)

Cost saving £355 CO2e saving 610 kg

Loft insulation (topping up)

Cost saving £35 CO2e saving 55 kg

Cavity wall insulation

Cost saving £395 CO2e saving 670 kg

Solid of suspended floor insulation

Cost saving £110 CO2e saving 190 kg

Single glazed windows replaced with A++ windows

Cost saving £235 CO2e saving 405 kg

Replacing D-rated boiler with A-rated plus controls

Cost saving £305 CO2e saving 590 kg

Upgrading old electric storage heaters to high heat retention models

Cost saving £730 CO2e saving 700 kg

After all that, you’re maybe ready for a cup of tea. Ah, but how much will boiling a kettle cost you? Why, there’s a calculation for that ……

Look at how many watts or kilowatts your kettle uses

  • Convert watts into kilowatts by dividing by 1,000

  • Time how long it takes your kettle to boil in seconds

  • Divide the kWh figure by 3600 to get the energy usage per second rate

  • Multiply by the time in seconds to calculate energy usage

  • Multiply this figure by your electricity cost in £s

Only joking! We don’t really expect you to go through all that! Boiling a full kettle costs around 7p, but we know that you would only ever boil the amount of water you actually need.


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