With the UK under lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus, all of us are spending a lot more time at home. All those cups of tea, plugged in laptops and streamed TV shows are adding up to a bigger household energy footprint.
Whether you’re looking to keep your bill to a minimum or lessen your environmental impact, here are some suggestions for a greener life indoors.
The working day
Tens of thousands of people who wouldn’t normally work from home are now doing so. This means that instead of using the office’s heating and electricity, you’re using your own. Here’s a few ideas for being more energy efficient.
If you tend to have the heating at the higher end of the scale, turning it down by just one degree saves energy and money
No more commuting
OK, so this isn’t a choice. But one positive about being at home is the reduction in both carbon emissions and air pollution from the huge drop in car journeys. Instead, you could sometimes use your outdoor time for the day to ‘commute’ to or from the home office with a run, walk or cycle.
Setting up your workstation
If you’re making do with a DIY office, try to choose a spot with plenty of natural light so that you don’t have to have lights on all day. Speaking of lighting – when you go out for essentials, you could see if the supermarket sells energy efficient LEDs.
The Energy Saving Trust recommends a range of 18-21ºC for healthy adults. If you tend to have the heating at the higher end of the scale, turning it down by just one degree saves energy and money. Time to make the most of the new work wardrobe of cosy jumpers, slippers and dressing gown.
Tea and coffee
Many offices come with the benefit of efficient instant boilers. No such luck at home. To reduce energy used from boiling the kettle, why not make yourself a thermos for refills throughout the morning? Or to cut down on the amount of times the kettle is boiled, set up hot drink breaks with other members of your household.
Turn it all off
Finish the working day by closing down your computer and turning it off at the plug. Don’t leave it on standby all night. You could also try to get into this habit with other appliances, too.
With no need to travel, we have longer days and evenings to fill – and many people also have children to entertain. Reaching for another screen may feel like the simplest option for filling time, but it’s also energy hungry. Why not think outside the boxset and make room for some lower energy activities as well?
A moment for yourself
The amount of information about COVID-19 can be overwhelming and it’s understandable to feel worried. To help ease anxious feelings, try some techniques from meditation. Find a peaceful (or relatively quiet) spot, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. You could make some time for meditation each morning or to clear your head before you go to bed.
If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, enjoy the start of spring by getting outside. Reduced traffic noise makes it easier to listen for birdsong – you could even try to learn what types of birds you can hear.
If you have children, set them hunting for bugs and insects and learning about the natural world on their doorstep. Or if you’ve always wanted to grow your own vegetables, use up some energy by digging and planting seeds together.
If you don’t have a garden, you could take some time to give any houseplants you have some TLC.
Take a screen break
From drawing and painting to playing a musical instrument, now’s a good time to revisit neglected hobbies or rediscover old interests. Or perhaps you have a pile of books you’ve been wanting to read. With news only ever a few taps away, spending some time offline can help give your mind a rest.
If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, enjoy the start of spring by getting outside.
In the kitchen
More time in the house means more meals prepared at home. Here are a few ways to be greener when you cook.
Cook up a big pan at once and then refrigerate or freeze portions for later
From homemade soup to stews and sauces, cook up a big pan at once and then refrigerate or freeze portions for later. Reheat in the microwave, which is more energy efficient than using the oven.
Learn some new recipes
Get creative with your store cupboard and try out new plant-based recipes. Going meat free for a few meals a week will help reduce the carbon footprint of your diet.
Think about food waste
At this time, many of us are more aware of our food supplies. How can you make sure that you don’t waste what you’ve got? Think about using leftover meat to make soups and stews or boiling up vegetable peelings to make veggie stock.
Other energy saving tips
There are plenty of other things you can do to make your home energy efficient. Visit www.energysavingtrust.org.uk for more ideas.
Finally, you can reduce the carbon footprint of the energy you do use by switching to a clean energy supplier like Good Energy. We’ll match your power use to 100% renewable electricity generated from sun, wind and water.
Good Energy and COVID-19
If you’re a Good Energy customer, check our FAQs about how we’re responding to coronavirus and how we can support you.