Green Living Centre


Energy is used to make near enough everything we use. It is used to heat our home, cook our food, freeze our food, heat our water, light our house, and operate the TV, stereo and mp3. We use energy in everything we do.
There are many hints and tips in saving energy and money at the same time as reducing the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. This will help to do you bit in reducing global warming.

Energy in the UK: The facts

Most power stations burn fossil fuels like oil, coal or gas. When burnt, these fuels release gases into the atmosphere that cause the earth to heat up, like a greenhouse. This is often referred to as `global warming' or climate change.
Scientists predict that global temperatures will rise by between 1.4C and 5.8C by the end of this century.
This means rising sea levels and more extreme weather like storms, floods and droughts in the UK and across the rest of the world.
The UK has a target to reduce carbon dioxide (C02) emissions by 60% by 2050.
But how will we achieve this -by cutting down on its use. This does not mean freezing in winter and living like scrooge. Much of this reduction can be made by using energy more efficiently at home, at work and in our cars.
More reductions will be made by using renewable energy such as solar and wind power, to generate electricity.

What you can do

Heating the home -The house
Heating accounts for about two thirds of household energy use. Energy use is a major financial consideration for most households and using it efficiently will save you money.
Most of the heat loses in a home is due to poor loft insulation. This will keep your house warmer and your heating bills down.

Use at least 10in (25cm thick material. Loft insulation alone cuts down energy usage (and heating bills) by 20%
If you are on a low income, over 60, disabled or have children under 16, the government's Warm Front Team (previously Home Energy Efficiency Scheme) offers free grants to make your home more energy-efficient. Contact the Eaga Partnership for more details (freephone 0800 316 6011; minicom 0800 072 0156).

You may be eligible for grants to help you make your home more energy efficient, or a free home energy check. Contact the Energy Efficiency Advice Centre (Telephone 0800 512 012) to find details of your local centre. If you're in receipt of benefits you may be eligible for 100% grant. Go to for further information.
The Energy Efficiency Helpline on 0845 727 7200 for free, impartial advice on how to make your home more energy efficient. A trained advisor can tell you about the grants available in your area to help save energy and money.

Cavity walls

Up to 33% of the heat produced in your home is lost through the walls. So, it's worth considering cavity wall insulation as an effective way to save energy in your home. Find out if your home is suitable for cavity wall insulation and whether you're applicable for a grant at the Energy Saving Trust website.

Water heating

Lagging your hot water pipes should enable you to turn the water heat down a little. You can buy pre formed foam tubing from a DIY store. See the Directory for details.
Putting a cute little jacket on your hot water tank means it doesn't have to use as much energy to keep your water hot. Ideally use an 80mm (3) thick insulation jacket from your DIY store that meets British Standards. It could cut your heat loss by up to 75% and pay for itself in a few months


Boilers often fit into the `if it isn't broke, don't fix it' category, but replacing your old boiler with a high efficiency one could save you up to a third off your annual fuel bill.
Energy efficient boilers are great value! `Condensing boilers' are the most efficient: they only lose about 11 % of the heat up the flue, whereas a conventional boiler loses up to 30%.
Contact a registered installer for gas fired boilers ( or OFTEC for oil fired boilers ( The price might make you flinch they typically cost between £800 to £1,200 to buy and you should get your investment back through lower fuel bills in 3 to 4 years.
Next best is a high efficiency, fan assisted boiler. Both types of boilers are available as conventional or combination types. They cost £25 £400 more than an ordinary boiler, but should save you £100 £130 a year.
Check out an online database of boilers at Look for the Energy Efficiency Recommended logo (see end of section) this guarantees the most efficient boilers on the market.


Putting reflective foil behind radiators that are against outside walls will help you to conserve energy. It reflects heat back into the room, meaning you can turn down the thermostat. You can use normal kitchen foil fixed to a board or buy specially designed foil from a DIY store.

Putting shelves above your radiators will ensure that as much heat as possible is deflected into your rooms and can save you around £5 to £10 per year. The shelf should be slightly above the radiator. It will help too if you avoid putting furniture directly in front of radiators.


Use low energy light bulbs. If every household in Britain fitted just one, we could close down a power station! Although more expensive to buy, they last eight times longer than traditional bulbs and save money in the long run.
If you replace one normal 100 watt light bulb with an energy saving one you can save up to £10 a year per fitting. Low energy bulbs cost between £4 and £12, but should last up to eight times as long (check that the labelling on the bulb you buy states it will last for at least 8,000 hours).


The Earthpill website has details of the power consumption of a growing number of appliances. You can search for a particular make and model. The website is based on measurements made by individuals, so if you make your own measurements (e.g. using an energy meter), please submit them to Earthpill.

Washing machines

Hang the washing out. Use a washing line to dry your clothes instead of a tumble dryer.
Be economical when washing and only wash your clothes when you have a full load. Today's washing powders are just as effective on low temperature programmes - saving energy and money. If you've got economy 7, use a timer to wash at night when electricity is cheaper.


Make sure your freezer is energy efficient, by checking the door seals are working and not leaving the freezer open for long periods of time. Defrost regularly and make sure it's positioned away from any hot appliances in your home. Replacing your old freezer with an energy efficient one could save you money on your bills.


Turn it down
To save energy, set your hot water thermostat to 60C/140F.
Have a refreshing shower instead of a bath. Although, a power shower can use more water than a bath! A five minute shower uses 35 litres of water, compared to a bath that uses 80 litres - this can save over 300 litres of water a week. Fit a flow restrictor to the shower and restrict flow to six litres a minute for optimum flow and water saving.

Electricity efficiency


Our homes are filled with electrical items like fridges and freezers (`white' goods), and televisions and stereos (`brown' goods). All new electrical goods should display an energy label explaining how much energy an appliance uses. Appliances graded A (most efficient) use less than half the energy of similar models graded G (least efficient). High efficiency products keep your running costs to a minimum.
For example, running an energy efficient dishwasher will cost you about 7p per cycle, but an inefficient model will cost about 15p per cycle. The average number of cycles per dishwasher is 250 a year, so switching could save you up to £20 a year. You will also reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the equivalent of 70 party balloons full with each and every wash.
Make sure you use your appliances sensibly. For example, you can use 1/3 less energy by switching from a 65C to a 55 C washing programme. Wait until the dish washer is full before running it. It is also cheaper to run it at night and use the economy button if you have one.

Stand by

In general appliances such as TVs and CD players use more electricity in standby mode than their owners realise. A TV's standby generally uses 3-7W compared with around 140W when switched on, but over the course of the year this can really add up. The average house can save around £37 a year by turning things off rather than leaving them on standby. Most modern appliances do not need a warm up time; the exception to this is 'complex' digital set-top boxes which need to be left in stanby to keep their settings. Nearly all other appliances can be turned off fully with no problems.

DIY renewable energy

Did you know that over 40,000 buildings in the UK have solar panels for their hot water supply? Even with our grey weather, solar thermal panels can provide households with hot water and even electricity. The most suitable orientation for panels is south, but southwest or even a roof that has slopes to the east and west can be suitable.
You can get a government grant to help towards installing panels. To find out more visit http://www.clear You will also find a list of accredited installers for wind turbines, small scale hydro electric schemes and wood burning boilers.

The Energy Saving Trust offer grants for PV cells (check out 0800 298 3978) and between 40% and 60% on total installation costs.

Energy saving action cost pay back time
Cavity wall insulation £350 - £500 4 -8 years
External wall insulation average £1,800 £2,800
20 years+
Floor insulation £150 - £250 10- 30 years
DIY loft insulation £110- £160 2- 5 years
Professional loft insulation £200 - £300 2- 5 years
Fit a thermostatic radiator valves £80- £400 10 years
Line curtains with thicker material £10- £50 1- 2 years
Fit draught excluders £50 3- 5 years
Fit shelves above radiators £1- £50 1- 5 years

Homes use a lot of energy: in 2000 the domestic sector used 46.8 million tonnes of oil equivalent to 30% of all the UK's energy use. Only transport used more.

Solar Water Heating

Although they require substantial investment, installing a solar-powered hot water system could reduce water heating costs significantly and pay for themselves in the medium term.
Suppliers include:
Solartwin whose system includes a solar-powered pump, and
Solar Sense who provide easy-to-install modular components for the self-build, and housing association-contractor markets.
AES manufactures, designs, and installs high efficiency solar systems for domestic and commercial applications. Their systems are also available as DIY kits with full instructions and telephone back-up.
Imagination Solar Limited was started to offer simple, effective solar water heating systems at an affordable price.

For lists of suppliers and installers contact National Energy Foundation.
Green plumbers such as Ecoheat are committed to energy efficiency, renewable energy and water conservation and offer independent advice and installation. Alternatively, you can join one of the increasing numbers (currently 15) of Solar Clubs across the country and receive help, advice and discounts on materials. The National Energy Foundation offers advice on solar domestic water heating systems and encourages teams of people to build simple but effective solar panels by providing training and expertise. To find out if there is a scheme starting in your area, e-mail NEF.

The Centre for Alternative Technology Green Shop can provide fact sheets and books on solar heating. Grants and advice on renewable advice is available from the Clear Skies Initiative. Homeowners can obtain grants between £500 to £5,000 whilst community organisations can receive up to £100,000 for grants and feasibility studies. Clear Skies supports projects in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Homeowners and community groups in Scotland can apply for support under the Scottish Community Renewables Initiative. Grants are also available towards the installation of solar electricity equipment in the Department of Trade and Industry's £20 million first phase of the major photovoltaic (PV) demonstration programme.

Lighting and electrical equipment

Electricity is the usual choice for lighting and for running all those appliances upon which we have become so dependent: televisions, radios, hi-fi, microwave cookers, dishwaters, washing machines, fridges and freezers, coffee grinders, food mixers, computers, hair dryers, shavers, electric toothbrushes... The list of electrically-powered products is almost endless. But there is a growing range of gadgets which work on solar power or mechanical energy, such as wind-up radios and torches, and solar powered garden lights.

Future Energy scheme is the UK's accreditation scheme for renewable energy and has been developed by the Energy Saving Trust. Future Energy vets and audits energy offered so that consumers can be confident about electricity suppliers' claims about renewable energy. Where the supply is from renewable energy accreditation ensures that the amount of energy used by subscribing customers is matched by purchases from renewable energy sources by suppliers. Friends of the Earth provide lots of information about green electricity including their own league table of suppliers and their recommendations.
Some green energy companies

Renewable electricity

Of course if your electricity comes from a green and clean source, you can feel better about using the energy. Green electricity in the UK is generated from renewable sources, mostly wind and water.
There are a number of energy companies that offer a green tariff and some providers will charge you no more than for the dirty, brown version.

Watch out!
Watch out, however, as some green tariffs have questionable credentials. Electricity companies are required by law to supply a small percentage of their energy from green sources (currently 3%), so you'll be subsidising what they have to do anyway.
The best green tariffs are those offered by companies that deal in nothing but green energy.


Whether you're looking for advice about energy saving measures for your home, renewable technologies, or how to pick a green energy tariff, these organisations will be able to help you.

For loft or wall insulation use Warmcel 100% recycled newspaper insulation, non-toxic and recyclable, instead of fibreglass; available direct from Green Building Store, Centre for Alternative Technology Green Shop (under Building Products), or e-mail Energyways (01920 821069) for stockists near you. Thermafleece is a natural insulation material using the blended wool of British hill sheep developed by Second Nature UK Ltd who claim it is completely safe to handle, fire resistant, has a life expectancy of more than 50 years and is recyclable.

No Cost Incurred

Turn off the lights when you leave a room for a long period.

Turn off the TV/video and hi-fi at the appliance rather than leaving it on standby.

Defrost the fridge and freezer regularly to ensure they are running efficiently.

Allow warm food to cool down before placing it in the fridge as additional energy is required to cool down the fridge.

Use a full load in the washing machine where possible.

Use the half load or economy program where possible.

Use a lower temperature program where possible as most modern washing powders are efficient at lower temperatures.

Use a lower and/or shorter dishwasher program where possible.

Don't use more water than needed for both cooking and filling the kettle.

When making toast, use a toaster rather than the grill.

Move furniture away from radiators to allow the hot air to circulate.

Draw the curtains in the evening to reduce any lost through the windows.

The cost options

Use long life / energy saving light bulbs.

When purchasing kitchen appliances such as fridges, freezers, dishwashers and washing machines, opt for a more energy efficient appliance. An EU Energy Label should be displayed on appliances for sale in order to help you make a choice.

Add loft insulation.

Use draft strips around ill-fitting windows and doors.

Lag your hot water tank.

Insulate hot water pipes.

Replace an old central heating boiler with a highly efficient condensing boiler.

Do not drape curtains over a radiator as this will direct the heat towards the window and away from the room.

Take showers instead of baths.


To eliminate draughts and wasted heat use an easy to fix brush or seal on the frame of your exterior doors.

Stop draughts and heat escaping through floorboards and skirting boards by filling gaps with newspaper or a sealant.

Make sure your windows are draught proofed. A short term alternative to double glazing is to tape clear polythene (plastic) across window frames.

Don't put sofas and chairs against outside walls where you will feel the cold and draughts the most.

Keep internal doors dosed as much as possible. Block up fireplaces that are not being used.


Don't rely on standby settings used by TVs, DVD players, VCRs, hi-fis, set top boxes and PCs. It's still consumers power and is a waste.

Unplug mobile phone chargers when they are not in use. Likewise, when not in use, turn off any adapters that may be attached to your electrical appliances such as computers, answer phones etc


Ensure that cookers and boilers have enough ventilation to operate safely.

Don't block up existing air vents or grills, they are there to ensure there is enough ventilation.

Make sure any chimneys and flues being used by appliances burning fuel (gas, coal, oil, wood etc.) are regularly swept and checked for blockages.


Save electricity by turning off lights, computers and other equipment when not in use.

.Adjust your curtains or blinds to let in as much light as possible during the day.


Make sure you have at least 6" (15 cm) of loft insulation.

Fit double or secondary glazing (the cling film type is very cost effective) or get special heat-retaining roller blinds.

Use draught strips on doors and windows and
Lag your hot water tank and consider installing cavity wall insulation.


Put a lid on a pan when boiling water it will boil up to six per cent faster. Once the water is boiling, rum it down as most energy is used bringing water to the boil.
Ensure food is totally defrosted before cooking. Thawing food in the oven before it cooks requires up to 50 per cent more energy
Most extractor fans above ovens are rarely effective, especially the ones that don't have an external flue. An open window is often just as good.
Buy a fan assisted oven they can heat up 30 per cent faster thaw conventional ovens.


Fit a "Savaplug" to your fridge.

There are hundreds of ways of saving energy and lots of information available. Check your local Energy Efficiency Advice Centre - there are over 50 which give free and impartial advice on cost-effective ways of saving energy - or Freephone 0800-512012.

Turn off the TV - leaving it on standby uses electricity.

Timer controls can be used to turn appliances on and off, if for example you want some lights on for home security.

Use rechargeable batteries.

Unplug the chargers. Unplug the battery chargers for your mobile phones, digital cameras, and laptops after the batteries are charged. These devices suck energy even when not charging the batteries, so pull the plug and save.

Make good use of power strips. Use power strips or switchable outlets to regulate the energy use of vampire appliances like coffee pots, televisions, VCR/DVD players, or stereo equipment. Turning off the power strip or switch will effectively cut the power supply to these appliances.

Fridges and freezer

Don't leave the fridge door open for longer than necessary, as cold air will escape.

Avoid putting hot or warm food straight into the fridge; allow it to cool down first.

Defrost your fridge freezer regularly to keep it running efficiently and cheaply. If it tends to frost up quickly, check the door seal. And if you absolutely have to put your fridge next to a cooker or boiler, leave a good gap between them.

Keep the condenser coils at the back clean and make sure they are not pushed up too close to a wall.

Cleaning off the fluff that gathers on the back of your fridge will help it run more efficiently.

Never put hot food in the fridge or freezer. Until it has cooled, the appliance will require extra energy to maintain its base temperature.
Defrost things overnight in the fridge. The cooler temperature of the frozen food will allow the fridge to save energy.
Buy a SavaPlug for your fridge, It can save up to 20 per cent of a fridge's energy costs by better regulating its power use..
Fill any empty spaces in either a chest freezer or an upright freezer. Use empty cardboard boxes to minimise the airflow and save energy that would otherwise be spent fanning the air


Try to dry clothes naturally. Don't put really wet clothes into a tumble dryer wring them out or spin dry them first. It's much faster and it will save you

If you need a new central heating boiler, fit a more energy efficient "condensing boiler."
Gas is better than electricity for heating your house.

Consider fitting solar water heaters on your roof. They are energy and cost efficient - if you can afford the capital investment.

Consider whether you really need to buy that electrical appliance. If you do, buy the most energy-efficient one available.

If you plan on replacing older electronics equipment, be sure to choose the most energy efficient models. Look for the Energy Star logo before buying any new devices such as computers, televisions, VCRs/DVD players, audio equipment, and other household appliances.

Energy Star qualified products use less energy in standby mode than their conventional cousins. Use this online locator to search for deals and rebates on Energy Star certified appliances available in your area.

Laundry Coloured clothes rarely, if ever need to be washed at anything .higher than 40C. A wash at 60C uses more than 30 per cent more energy than washing at 40C and will fade the colours in your clothes faster too. White wash settings use much more energy and water than other settings. Most whites wash well at 40C, especially if soaked in a sink or bath in advance.
Line dry clothes outdoors, or indoors


Rethink that screensaver. Contrary to popular belief, screensavers are designed to save your computer screen, not to save energy. Try the Energy Star EZ Wizard to help you make the most of your computer's energy saving features, or follow the directions on how to set these features manually.

If you are absolutely opposed to using your computer's power management features or if you are using a particularly older model that does not have these features, consider switching off the computer monitor during long periods of non-use.

The monitor itself uses more than half the system's energy and there really is no reason for leaving it on all night if it is not being used all night. Never fear, turning a computer on and off uses negligible energy and most computers are designed to withstand the effects of being switched on and off ten or more times a day.


Turn your machine off and open the door just before it
on a clothes horse whenever possible. enters its drying
Match the size of the ring to the pan

Fix your Carbon dioxide by planting trees.

The average household emits 20-30 tonnes of Carbon dioxide per year. To fix this, we need to plant around 100-150 trees per year per household - a donation of about £150 should roughly cover that.