Most of the measures that you can take to reduce your energy usage are relatively expensive or affect your lifestyle in a big way. Getting loft insulation, <#66#>solar panels<#> or a new energy efficient boiler can cost thousands and giving you your car to rely on a bike could mean shopping and socialising in a completely different way. Sometimes, becoming energy efficient seems like a lot of effort and not a lot of fun.
So, it’s good to hear that some manufacturers are designing all sorts of gizmos and gadgets to help us save energy, some of which are interesting and could make you feel you are doing your bit for the environment without being too strict on yourself.
Having an electrical appliance on standby can use an awful lot of electricity while we are lulled into thinking it’s switched off. Modern appliances are better, but TVs, washing machines, dishwashers and music systems that are more than four or five years old could be an energy drain without you realising it. A simple but smart solution is to buy extra smart sockets that just plug into ordinary sockets.
When you plug any appliance into the smart socket and you can turn it off completely using a remote control. This is great when your plugs are all hidden behind cabinets or sofas – no more crawling around trying to switch them all on and off. At about £25 for three sockets, you can buy them every so often until all the sockets you need are covered.
Ethical Plant Pots
Not all gizmos are high-tech. If you like annual plants in the garden and have a greenhouse, you can spend a fortune on plastic plant pots and trays, repotting plants as they get bigger until you can plant them out on the patio or in the garden. Using plastic adds to landfill when you throw the pot away and leaves a large carbon footprint behind because of the manufacturing process involved.
A simple, cheap and really ingenious solution is to buy a paper potter, which is a wooden mould that can make instant plant pots out of old newspapers. The pots are strong enough to keep the compost and plant in place, allowing the plant roots to grow in a well aerated environment. When the plants need planting out, just plant them in the paper pots, which then biodegrade. The root ball is undisturbed and the plants get off to a flying start.
If you have teenagers, they seem to spend about half an hour in the shower. Recently available is a shower timer and alarm, which is usually built into a duck or frog that suctions onto one of the tiles in the shower. You can set the time and press the start button when you start the shower and then try to finish before the time is up. It’s great for raising the awareness of everyone in the family about how a long leisurely shower can eat into the water bill and the heating bill.
Individual Solar Panels for Sheds
If you have a shed in the garden that has no power but is a bit dark, you can now buy individual solar panels to mount on the roof of the shed and connect this up to one or two low energy light bulbs to light the shed from the stored power from the sun. Getting a system to power one bulb is under £100, and the wiring up is straightforward.
Wind Up Remote Controls
A typical family often has at least three remotes lying around, all with two or four batteries in them. If you want to avoid having to buy so many expensive rechargeable batteries, which use energy from the mains to charge, and want to opt for a really green solution, you can now buy a remote control that you wind up. One model comes with a circular winder and turning it 30 times gives the remote a full charge that lasts for 7 days. It can also operate several different appliances – so less clutter too.