Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Squeaky Goes Green

We're learning our colours, bit by bit, in Squeaky Mansions at the moment.  We can positively identify "red", find red things, and say "red" at the appropriate time.  We're not bad at "blue", though it tends to be said "bue". Yellow is a bit more tricky, and Squeaky's still getting that one a bit confused.

However, today, we're interested in "Green".  Ten Green Bottles, and all that.  I've put together ten hints and tips on how to save energy, money and the environment, with simple ideas from the mind of a simple mum (me), and a bit of help from La Squeak.

1. Close Doors.  I'm forever on at Daddy to shut the door behind him when he's leaving a room, even if he'll be back in a minute ("I'm only going out to the bin" is his usual reply)  Warm air from the house rushes out through an open door, to be replaced by cold air, which needs heating, and increases your heating bills.  Keeping doors closed means you keep the rooms you're in at a reasonable temperature, and you're not paying to heat the street.

2. Turn off the things you're not using.  Again, this is something I nag Daddy about all the time.  He'll put the radio on in the kitchen when he washes up, and then forget to turn it off when he comes back to the living room. No-one is listening to Radio 2, or whatever nonsense he's put on, and if no-one's listening, it's burning unnecessary power.  Flick the switch.

3. Dry outside.  Make the most of the wind and the sunshine (yes, I know), and put your clothes outside on the line to dry.  They'll get that lovely clean, crisp feeling, and you haven't paid a penny, just used what nature gave you.  And if the weather's a bit rubbish, get the clothes airer out & dry them on there.  Forget the tumble dryer.

4. Wear clothes that don't need ironing!  OK, I admit it. I'm lazy.  I hate ironing with a passion.  That's why, if you ever meet me, I'm likely to be wearing jeans & a slightly crumpled t-shirt.  But ironing takes more power, and that's what we're trying to avoid, right?  I know, there's times when you have to, and times when you want to, but think before you iron.  Do you need to iron teatowels & undies?

Doing very well on egg water, thank you!
5. Only boil as much water as you need.  And offer to make everyone else a cuppa when you go to the kettle.  There's nothing more wasteful than boiling a kettle, then someone adding a mugsworth of cold water to it and boiling it again 2 minutes later.  Make your family think you're kind & thoughtful, and save a few pennies.

6. Reuse water.  Yes, share a bath if you like, but that's not what I mean.  Boiled eggs for brekkie?  Let the water cool, and use the egg water to water your houseplants.  The tiny bits of eggshell & chicken poo are good plant food, and your plants will thank you for it.  Likewise with your washing up water - out on the veggies in the garden.

7. Get thrifty.  I'm sure you've seen some of my Magpie Monday posts, so you'll know I can't walk by a charity shop without a quick peek inside.  By breathing new life into someone else's unwanted items, you're reducing the number of new clothes made, stopping something going to landfill, saving yourself money (there's some real bargains to be had), and giving money to a good cause.  It's even better if you can donate some of your unwanted, outgrown, or otherwise unloved items too - makes space for something else.

8. Buy refills & economy sizes.  They're usually better value for money (but watch for special offers), and particularly with things like coffee, they're more environmentally sound.  The cardboard tub of a catering size tin of coffee takes much less energy to make than the glass jar, it weighs less so uses less energy to transport to the store, and mug for mug costs less.  Everyone's a winner.  Heck, you can get milk in plastic bags now, if you shop in certain supermarkets!

9. Turn off the lights! (Not the Nelly Furtado song, but if it's a reminder, then yeah)  Much as with my earlier point, if it's not being used, it's wasting power.  Squeaky's added this simple tutorial if you're unsure of the process.

10. Keep an eye on what you're actually using.  We won an energy monitor last year, it clips onto the cable by the electric meter, and feeds back to a display you can put somewhere else in the house, and it's a great way to remind you to think about what you're doing, and where you could save.  The way the use rockets when you switch certain appliances on is scary!

Along the same lines, British Gas are introducing Smart Meters, which have a monitor so you can see what you're using, and make your own choices.  I use the phrase "informed choice" a lot in my day job, but this is one of those times where it applies to real life as well.  If you know you're burning cash, you can choose to do something about it, and decide what matters to you the most.  Maybe you can't wash up without the radio on, but you can stop ironing those socks!

This post is my entry to the BritMums & British Gas Watt Loss Challenge.

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