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going greener - any energy saving or other eco friendly advice?

(86 Posts)
bossykate Thu 14-Nov-02 13:48:57

hello everyone

i would be very grateful if anyone can help me with energy saving tips or other tips to save costs and help the environment at the same time.

thanks in advance for your help

gillymac Thu 14-Nov-02 21:38:55

hi bossykate,

the world wildlife fund have lots of good energy saving tips on their website - have a look at http://www.wwf-k.org/core/takeaction/rethink.asp
Sorry, tried to do a proper link but couldn't manage it...

gillymac Thu 14-Nov-02 21:40:58

sorry that should be
http://www-uk.org/core/takeaction/rethink.asp
brain and typing fingers not working properly tonight!

pupuce Fri 15-Nov-02 09:42:30

Well we have a dual timer for electricity which means that after 2230 it's FAR cheaper so we run all our "machines" in the night... it's money saving at least
I recently found out that not turning off the tele completely (you know leaving the little red light) still consumes 60% of the energy you would need to run the tele ! So that's now always turned off.
If I think of more, I'll let you know.
Good thread

Katherine Fri 15-Nov-02 09:54:48

We are in the process of switching electricity to a greener supplier. You have to be careful because there is a lot of duff stuff out there. By law electricity companies have to supply 3% of power from green sources and this will eventually go up to 10%. Some of the companies offer "green tarrifs" but they are only 10% green and I don't see why you should pay extra for something that is going to be law anyway. However there are a couple of companies out there who supply ALL their energy from green sources. I've done price comparisons and its about the same as my supplier now. So I'm not going to save money but it won't cost me more either. Some of the green companies are matching local supplier rates anyway. Check out this site for more information and comparison of suppliers.

Snugs Fri 15-Nov-02 10:55:20

Theses are my current attempts at 'green' living:

Recycling:
Paper/Cardboard (local collection scheme or composted); Glass; Tin; Aluminium (take it to the right place and you can get money for this one)
Plastics; Textiles (any that are no good for charity shops); Printer cartridges - to local charity.

Compost Bin

Energy saving light bulbs - but only use for lights which are on for long periods of time; if you switch on/off a lot they actually use more energy.

Draft proofing/loft insulation/hot water tank insulation - save energy and cash.

Water - rain butt under gutter, used for plants etc. Cooking water - if I havent used it for gravy/sauce then I feed it to my indoor plants, they love the minerals and I dont waste cash on commerical products.

Dont use aerosols of any kind.

Don't use car for any journey under 1/2 mile (raise my minimum distance in summer).

I'm sure there are other things that I cant think of just now (and you've probably stopped reading by now anyway....)

PamT Fri 15-Nov-02 12:37:10

I use gloop in my washing machine instead of expensive tablets. Dead easy to make, cheap and better for the environment. All you need is unscented soap, soda crystals and some essential oils. The recipe is here
You add the gloop straight to the drum, using about half a cupful each wash and can also rub some into really dirty marks to help them come out. You can also use a little white vinegar instead of fabric conditioner to soften the washing.

SueW Fri 15-Nov-02 12:49:33

Pupuce - it may be cheaper to run all your machines overnight but it's not recommended due to potential fire risks. See here for recommendations to switch off and unplus electrical appliances before going to bed.

I know two people who have suffered as a result of running things overnight - one who went to bed and woke up to find her dishwasher had flooded her kitchen overnight. Repairman said it shouldn't have been left on overnight. Another whose dryer burst into flames Fortunately no-one hurt.

That said - I'm sure most of us do it. I usually switch my dishwasher on as I go to bed in spite of my friend's expereince. But I can't go to bed now until my tumble dryer is finished. And I'm definitely being more careful during the strike.

Lizzer Fri 15-Nov-02 13:20:54

Really good thread Bossykate, will be back soon but hoover is calling

janh Fri 15-Nov-02 14:30:53

snugs, please will you tell my DH about not turning low energy bulbs on and off???

bossykate - another good tip (which DH also ignores) - only boil as much water as you need.

I switch telly off standby at night but don't unplug anything, and I run the dishwasher overnight - have had floods in the past but no fires - SueW, good point about the strike!

Tissy Fri 15-Nov-02 15:24:58

My mother goes round the house each night unplugging things to avoid fires. She even does it when visiting (doesn't occur to her that we're not quite so thorough), so we have to spend the next morning re-setting the timers on the video, answerphone, microwave. Luckily she understands about not unplugging the fridge and freezer!

pupuce Fri 15-Nov-02 18:38:35

Good point Suew... I do have a fire alarm but Yes I'd rather avoid the fire all together ! I did get a mini flood once ! No big deal but very annoying... it was daytime too but I wasn't next to the machine.

We turn just about everything off (unplug) when we leave for 2 days or more (we do keep the heat on - low but on as I have been told many times that it costs more to re-heat the house than to keep it at a reasonable temp.)

We do the energy saving bulbs as well and all the recycling - including bringing our own bags or boxes to shops.

We use less than the recommended doses of washing powder and I haven't yet bought a crystal but I knw people who have and say it does very well in the washing machine.

BTW on the "machine" front all of ours are top rated as energy savers (they were not the cheapest) but more importantly they all have short cycles (for example I do my laundry in a 36 minutes cycle).

gillymac Fri 15-Nov-02 19:01:30

Pam T,
was very interested in what you said about using gloop in the washing machine and would like to give it a try. Does it wash as well as normal washing powder?

Enid Fri 15-Nov-02 20:07:36

Make sure your freezer is defrosted - badly frosted up freezers use more energy.

janh Fri 15-Nov-02 20:29:04

And keep your freezer full - if you have a big one, fill it with bread if you have gaps. (Sorry, Enid, I seem to be stalking you!)

As well as the Lakeland kitchen composter I also have their 2 sturdy supermarket bags (with wooden handles) (and they have a v useful bottle bag too, with sections, you can use it for bottles or cans) - the only problem with them is that sometimes I can barely lift them out of the trolley. But I save 7 or 8 bags per trip I think.

PamT Fri 15-Nov-02 20:51:13

Gillymac, gloop doesn't have any scent other than the essential oils, so it doesn't have the strong smell that shop bought products do. You can always put oils in with the vinegar rinse to make the clothes smell a bit more scenty. You get the laundry smell that commercial laundries have but its not a nasty smell. There are also no bleaches or 'glow' chemicals so the whites don't come out brighter than bright after a bit but I'm told that the occasional use of Ecover laundry bleach can give them a boost. Dirty marks definitely benefit from a bit extra gloop rubbed in before washing but generally I think the washing is as clean as commercial products.

There's a book called Clean House Clean Planet which has lots of recipes for eco-friendly cleaning products, using a lot of bicarb, vinegar, soda crystals etc. They cost a lot less than the big names and apparently work just as well. The gaia exchange site (see the gloop link below) has more recipes and tips too. I'm a novice to all this and haven't really gone beyond gloop and a bit of sink drain cleaning yet but its all food for thought. It costs me less than 50p for a batch of gloop which lasts about 30 washes so its got to be worth a go.

Demented Fri 15-Nov-02 22:37:30

This gloop stuff sounds good. DH was laughing at the thought of me slaving over a hot stove making my own washing detergent mind you! We have started to recycle since moving, prior to now we lived in a flat and couldn't park anywhere near the house so carting bags of empty bottles etc didn't appeal. A couple of weeks ago we took our first box of glass the the bottle bank and felt quite proud of ourselves until we read in the local press that it had been discovered that the Council were just emptying the banks into normal bin lorries and taking them to a landfill site.

zebra Sat 16-Nov-02 05:05:35

About SueW's fire risks.... using a tumble dryer is extremely un-green, and dishwasher no better (the highly dodgy high phosphorous automatic dishwasher soaps). Running a freezer isn't very green, either. (Now I'll get accused of being all sniffy).

Where does one buy unscented soap to make 'gloop'? [I'll see if PamT's URL tells].

Our big "green" brag is that we only put out 1 rubbish bag every 3-4 weeks.

Turn off your freezer (I needed it to donate milk to a bank, honest!) in the summer; saved us £30 last year. We put in old milk cartons filled with water to keep the running cost down.

A friend turned off fridge in winter & just stored stuff outside in the naturally cold. OK if you buy meat/fish fresh, I would think.

Sweep rather than vacuum hard floors.

My grandmother ranted at us to use the same cup all day to drink out of; a lot greener than washing up inbetween every cup of tea.

Saves money on detergent: Cloth nappies that are only "wet" (ie, no poop) will wash all urine out on a normal cycle with no detergent, as long as the machine isn't very full.

Esp. in drought periods: Save water from the kid's bath & use to flush toilet, water houseplants, water garden.

Oh.. and not running the computer is probably a green thing, too. LOL.

robinw Sat 16-Nov-02 06:49:03

message withdrawn

PamT Sat 16-Nov-02 08:06:09

Zebra, most supermarkets do their own brand unscented soap - Morrisons is 25p per bar or you could use something like 'Simple'. I suppose you could use any soap really but the unscented ones have less nasty chemicals.

To be even more green you could buy Dr Bronners soap solution which has a multitude of uses, cloth nappies and cloth sanitary wear - all available from this site. You could even go further with the sanitary products and buy a mooncup (a silicone cup which takes care of your needs for up to 10 years and doesn't need laundering either!) which has already been discussed in another thread.

Lucy123 Sat 16-Nov-02 10:01:58

PamT - love the gloop thing. I'm off to buy some soda crystals now...

Anyway we have just moved to a new house that is huge and has no central heating. We need heating, but I'm not sure what the best way to do it is:

does anyone know about the relative energy use of bottled gas v electric heaters (no piped gas here)? Also which kind of electric heater is the most efficient? and is it a fire risk to keep them on low all night? (don't have enough timers).
We do have a huge wood burning stove that brings the whole house up by a degree or two, but obviously that's not very green either.

We also have 2 fridges (in fact 2 kitchens, don't ask me why) one of them makes a noise like a lorry parking in the kitchen, but does this necessarily mean it's inefficient? how can I tell?

Janeway Sat 16-Nov-02 14:06:47

Some DIY based ones - these should help your health as well as the health of the environment, but they're not necessarily the cheaper option:

Painting - use solvent free paints like Auro Organics from here - easier on the environment and your lungs.

Avoid UPVC for drainage etc - there are suggestions now that it may release substances that reduce sperm counts (though you may feel that this is adventageous)

Insulation - avoid mineral/glass wool if you can (again the fibres in this are not good for your lungs and use a lot of energy to make - always use gloves, goggles & mask when handling it) - alternatives include real wool & recycled newspapers but these are more readily available in larger quantities

For the above and for more general ideas try the Centre for Alternative Technology - they even have a catalogue for books and products that can help you on your way to a greener, cheaper future

Easy stuff to do to save water (if you're on a water meter this should also save cash):

WC - new WCs (less than 2 yrs old, have a 6.5litre flush - anything older uses much more) - put a bottle of water in the tank.

Reuse the rinse water from you washing machine to flush the WC, or water the garden (depending what washing liquids you use).

Eulalia Sat 16-Nov-02 15:38:46

Yes right enough zebra - going on mumsnet is very energy consuming!! I do switch off the monitor if I am not using the computer for a period of time.

We don't have adequate recycling facilities where we live so a lot of stuff is binned unfortunately.

I use washable nappies and save water by putting them in first on a hot/half load wash, letting them wash for about 10 mins, draining the machine, not letting it spin, open door add rest of washing and a bit more powder and then running it through full (lower temp) programme. A bit of a faff and you have to be around but it means you get everything washed all in one go.

Katherine Mon 18-Nov-02 09:17:50

Lucy123 - If your woodburner is good enough to power radiatiors then it may be worth looking into. Although you are of course burning, you can at least burn the sort of wood which grows back quickly and growing trees take in more CO2 than fully grown ones! We have solid fuel heating and its great - oil would be the easiest but not sure how ecofriendly it is. A neighbour has gas and seems to be forever changing bottles.

If you want electric what about going onto economy 7 to save money and running storage heaters. They are a bit chunky but do work well especially if you are around a lot of the day. You can always get your electric from a green supplier as well.

bossykate Sun 24-Nov-02 10:36:23

thanks very much everyone for these tips. one of my new year's resolutions last year was to implement more eco friendly policies in our household, and although we have made progress, i feel there's a lot more we could be doing.

one thing i have found is that once you start to research how to do this, it is easy to get overwhelmed by information, so my new approach to implementation is to choose a few simple things at time to do, so that i can get my head round it all more easily.

for any other green novices out there, here are my first (almost) no effort steps to going greener.

*switch OFF all appliances/lights when not in use - sounds insultingly obvious, doesn't it? but when i think of all the times we left the tv on standby...
*turn down central heating thermostat one degree
*have central heating on one hour less per day (i'm a bit of reptile and like my warmth - so this one is hard for me!)
*always wash at 40 degrees
*don't use the tumbledryer
*take advantage of home recycling schemes offered by the council
*send goods to charity shops rather than throwing away
*buy products made from recycled materials
*buy organic whenever possible - veg box delivery schemes help even further by using minimum reusable packaging and locally sourced produce
*feed the birds in your garden - we have a bird feeder visible from the window next to ds's high chair and one of his first words was "birdie"! aaah bless!

my personal next steps will be:

*switching to a green electricity supplier
*recycling plastics and cardboard - not collected from home, so a bit more effort required to drop them off at the centre
*start composting kitchen and garden waste
*top up loft insulation
*use energy saving lightbulbs where possible

we will do these asap, but given that just maintaining the status quo in our house seems to take up all our time (does anyone else feel like this?) it may not be as quickly as i would like in the ideal world.

one final thing, the friends of the earth website at www.foe.org.uk has lots of fantastic tips *plus* you can ask them questions by email and get a very quick response.

thanks for reading all the above. i really hope it doesn't sound utterly smug - in reality the more you do, the more you research the whole issue, the more you find out you could be doing... and the more guilty you feel!

thanks again everyone.

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