The small changes that make a big difference for the planet – and for your energy bills

From unplugging appliances when not in use to turning off the tumble dryer, there are many things we can do around our home to save money.

With the cost of living in Ireland continuing to skyrocket and some electricity companies increasing their charges by almost a quarter, it’s time to take a look at our energy use and change our habits.

Susan Moran, Household Energy Expert at the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), said it is fundamental that everyone “understands how we use energy in our homes and makes changes in behaviour”.

She added: “These tips and little things that sound insignificant are actually advice and guidance on how to change your behavior and habits.

“They help you understand
what those changes will do for you in your pocket, while also taking the pressure off the grid.

“All of these things add up and at the end of the day it helps with your energy bills. You have to put it all in context and see it as a change in behavior.”

The home energy expert initially encourages people to take a look at their heating system.

More than 30 degrees in the living area is too high, bedrooms and hallways only need to be 15 or 18 degrees, radiators in rooms that are rarely used should be turned down. For long-term savings, people should look into attic and wall insulation. “This is where you’ll really save money,” says Ms. Moran.

“A lot of us work from home and have loads of laptops and chargers plugged in and on standby, TVs and game consoles on standby,” she said.

“They may look small, but if any light is on, it means electricity is flowing through them.

“Also, people think nighttime is the best time to charge these things, but it might only take you an hour, and you might sleep seven or eight hours. So avoid leaving them plugged in and on standby. That is unnecessary consumption.”

The energy expert said the second greatest need in our homes is hot water. To save money and be more sustainable, it is preferable to wash clothes at a lower temperature.

She also encourages people to ditch the tumble dryer and use a drying rack or hang clothes outside.

Chef Conor Spacey, who is also an expert on food waste, said the first place people should start when they want to save money in the kitchen is with their weekly groceries.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average household in Ireland throws away €700 worth of food a year.

“The perfect starting point is the weekly shop.

“Here we spend money that we don’t have to spend and it’s when we don’t plan. I know it sounds a bit boring, but planning is key to avoiding waste.”

The chef encourages people to think about the week ahead and only shop for meals they are actually home for, as well as think about leftovers and how to use them up.

“For example, if you know you’re going to have a traditional roast, it’s about buying exactly what you need for that meal and also understanding what’s left of that meal.

“We never really count the leftovers, and it’s the leftovers that create the most waste,” he says.

“So, I might buy meals for four nights a week, and then I have three nights with leftovers, and I might buy stuff for those leftovers to make a more substantial meal out of it.”

Using fewer appliances in the kitchen and making sure all appliances are unplugged when not in use can save you electricity and money.

Mr Spacey said although the kettle gets a bad rap, it’s fine to use if you actually need it – so only boil the amount of water you need and use the measurements to the side.

He also recommends following “one-pot miracle” recipes and growing fresh vegetables using the root of store-bought produce.

“I can’t even grow my own hair, let alone vegetables.

“I have celery at home that I originally bought about two years ago and I still use it,” he said.

“I put it in water, it sprout the root, it starts to grow and I plant it in a pot and put it in my kitchen window. Or if you have a garden, put it in the garden and it will grow back.

“It saves so much money and always gives it back. Anything that has a root can be regrown without any gardening knowledge and that is a real asset for me.”

In the garden, broadcaster and sustainability expert Fionnuala Moran also encourages people to grow their own vegetables, but to save electricity, she says, to drop the lawnmower.

“People who don’t run their lawnmowers are a good place to start.

“We have a big ‘no mowing in May’ campaign in the country,” she said.

“You have no cost to run your lawn mower, the electricity or the fuel you use to run it. You reclaim your time because you don’t have to spend your weekends mowing, and you’re really helping biodiversity too.”

The sustainability expert added that she’s “everything about not over-complicating things where we don’t need them,” so a hand mower is a great substitute, too. The small changes that make a big difference for the planet – and for your energy bills

Fry Electronics Team

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