Wednesday, August 30, 2006


At the end of the summer, we usually have a look at what our goals were at the beginning of the year and see what still needs sorting before the end of the year is whizzing by. Our main goals this year related to changing the ways in which we used energy, improving what we could and make changes where possible.

In the beginning of the year, we switched some lightbulbs to energy efficient ones, and although the costs of the bulbs was quite high, they are not needed to be replaced that often and have a reduced energy requirement to run. My Dh was not keen on replacing all of them at once, but having already changed the kitchen bulbs twice since installing one set in the dining room, he has been persuaded. On my list remains the spotlights in the kitchen. We kept normal bulbs in areas where an immediate light response is required such as halls and stairways but all rooms have energy efficient bulbs in for the main lighting and some for side lights too. This will complete the light-bulb changes possible in our home. If you need some info check ban the bulb.


Increasing your insulation by putting a sweater on works well when it gets cold, so putting more layers into your home also makes sense. The amounts of insulation recommended has increased over the years and there are some grants available to enable this work to be carried out. Check the energy savings trust website for good ideas and availability of grants in your area. We have increased insulation in our home and I look forward to a warmer winter and a cut in energy bills.

Whatever source of heat you use when the weather gets cold, check out how it compares. Our house did not have central heating although we are in the process of having that done. Certain heating boilers currently are more energy efficient, so if you have no heating, again, check what is available in your area. The energy savings trust provides a variety of info on the matter. When you use heating, you can keep the temperature at a comfortable level, use temperature controlled radiators for each room and use your common sense. Again, this will vary from person to person, the common sense and the temperature you want in your home. We did not suffer the cold for more than 2 weeks per year and used to wear sweaters, warm socks and drink plenty of hot drinks to keep us warm in the mid bleak winter.

If you have none of that, it will help to keep the heat in and the cold out. Leaky, draughty windows...been there....


The costs of energy suppliers is going up and there is some variation in the costs per unit. Check with uswitch to see if you have the best deal available in your area. Also worth asking your supplier what deals they have should you want to stay with them.

This is an area we are continuing to work on. We have appliances in the home and in order to reduce the amount of energy we use we can ask ourselves, in what way this mechanised and electric machine is going to make our life easier and whether pure muscle power could do the same. When an item breaks, check whether your life depends on it, such as toasters, kettles, hairdryers, timers, clocks, radios, tv, washing machines, tumble dryers, dishwashers, freezers. All of these either are essential to your way of life or not. Its not up to me to say what is and what is not in your life, but being aware of alternative ways and the costs involved may help you make different choices. We have an 8 year old dishwasher but when it goes, it will probably not be replaced. A dishwasher has meant we need more crockery and dishwashing tablets mean the cost of a load is 50 p per wash. A personal choice that depends on the amount of people in your home. With 5 of us, it makes sense sometimes but we could as easily wash by hand.

One of the plans we have is to look as to whether we invest in solar energy on our south-facing house. I balance this up every time it enters in my awareness and although I realise that we are never going to make enough energy for our current needs with 5 people, if we continue to reduce the amount we use and increase the amount we produce, we will eventually meet in the middle. Solar power for electricity will be a project to look at seriously and explore further in the months to come.

Again a work in progress, we have 2 cars as mentioned before and we make choices. We no longer travel by plane and are looking at the viability of public transport which in a rural area is limited. You still need to have plenty of time to make that happen. Instead we plan better use of our cars and journeys which is working well so far.

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