Friday, 4 January 2013

"Were you born in a barn?"

Copyright Kim Piper Werker 2008 Creative Commons

"Born in a barn, were you?" my Grandma would call if you entered or left a room without shutting the door.  Door shutting was as natural to Grandma as breathing.  As was switching off lights, closing the curtains at dusk, only heating rooms as you used them and wearing slippers and a warm cardie.  After struggling with fuel rationing in the war her generation didn't have to think about energy efficiency, it was hard wired habit.

Unfortunately, I can't say the same for myself!

I waft about the house in bare feet, leaving doors open and more lights on than Blackpool's illuminations.  But since I started blogging, I have been totally inspired by all the "thrifty mum" (and mom!) bloggers out there.  Family BudgetingA Thrifty MumDiary of a Frugal FamilyMy Mummys Pennies and Frugal in Cornwall are big faves and I've just discovered Domesblissity  As I've gone in the last year from full-time working mum to WAHM starting my own business, I really need to account for every penny, so in yet another New Year's resolution I've decided to channel Granny and do everything I can to save energy around the house.

My Grandma never left a room
with a door open
When we moved house a few years ago we did invest in some energy saving improvements that have made a big difference.  After 15 years in a draughty, freezing cold 19th Century flat I couldn't bear to spend the rest of my life in a draughty, freezing cold 19th Century terrace so we forked out for double glazing, extra floor boards and loft insulation and got the builders to foam insulate every tiny gap they could find in the floor and skirting (base) boards.

But I've been rubbish about doing my bit so I've come up with an enormous list of things I can do that can make a difference.  In the same spirit as my domestic dummy make over, I am going to try and work on one habit a week until it's hard wired in my brain and I do it on auto-pilot just like Grandma.

A list of 75 energy saving tips
Round the house 
  1. Keep internal doors shut
  2. Close curtains at dusk
  3. Wear slippers
  4. Put an extra woolie on when you're cold
  5. Wear thermals
  6. Take hot water bottle to bed
  7. Have extra blankets on the bed for when first go to bed
  8. Wear a shawl, throw for when reading, watching TV
  9. Wear socks to bed
  10. Wear a dressing gown
  11. Get a night cap (hmmm ...)
Copyright CJillReed 2008 - Creative Commons
  1. Turn thermostat down 1 degree a day until feels too cool
  2. Don't use whole house - turn radiators off if not going to be using a room during day, turn bedroom radiators up for just a little bit before bedtime
  3. Don't block radiators
  4. Turn radiator off in kitchen when cooking - don't need it
  5. Go round windows & doors with lit incense stick to find drafts or when dark shine a torch round door and stand on other side if can see light 
  6. Make a draught excluder for each of the doors
  7. Put self-adhesive draught excluding tape self-adhesive very cheap
  8. Tape clear plastic film to draughty windows in winter
  9. Regularly bleed radiators
  10. Put a shelf above radiator to deflect heat into the room
  11. Put panels behind radiators
  12. Put a draught excluder and cover on your letter box 
  13. Put covers on key holes
  14. Get thick curtains for winter (lots available second hand)
  15. Line curtains (will make them last longer as well)
  16. Put a curtain on front door
  17. Schedule heating to go off before you go to bed so still warm when get in but not wasting heat once in - will take half an hour to cool down
  18. Schedule heating to off off at least half an hour before leave house
  19. If need to open windows for fresh air for any reason open large windows & doors for five minutes - better than small windows for short period
  1. Only boil amount of water need
  2. Make toast in the toaster not the grill 
  3. Cook with saucepan lids on
  4. If only cooking a small pan put it on the small ring
  5. Heat water for cooking in kettle
  6. Make sure gas only heats bottom of pan and doesn't come up round sides
  7. Use segmented steamer to cook several different vegetables in one pan
  8. Turn cooker off 10 minutes before end of cooking
  9. Cook food in smaller pieces
  10. If you've got the oven on cook multiple things at a time
  11. Use a slow cooker
  12. Batch cook large quantities to freeze
  13. Defrost food in fridge overnight so not cooking from frozen
  14. Cool hot food outside fridge before putting in
  15. Keep your freezer full
  16. Defrost fridge & freezer if regularly
  17. Don't pre-rinse dishes before putting in dishwasher
  18. Only run full loads in dishwasher
  19. Fill sink with hot water, don't let it run
  20. Turn microwave off when not in use if not using clock
  21. Keep condenser coils on back of fridge well dusted
Copyright Stephen Jones 2012         
Creative Commons
  1. Only run full loads in washing machine
  2. Air dry clothes or dry clothes outdoors as much as you can
  3. Soak heavily soiled items before washing
  4. Wash at 30 degrees whenever you can
  5. Take clothes out of drier before completely dry
  6. On sunny days get the curtains right open as soon as possible
  7. Don't dry clothes on the radiator or right in front of radiator
  8. Use eco balls in tumble dryer to make it more efficient
  9. Clean lint filter in your dryer
Bathroom & Water
  1. Get an eco diffuser tap - can get free from some UK water companies
  2. Get an eco / low flow shower head - (not sure I'll ever manage this!)
  3. Get a shower timer and keep them to 5 minutes - can get free from some water authorities
  4. Don't bath the children every night - (makes so much sense on nursery nights!)
  5. Turn off the tap when cleaning teeth
  6. Towel dry your hair
  7. Turn off bathroom fan as soon as finished
  8. Turn down temperature of water heater
  9. Put a jacket on your hot water tank if you have one
  10. Get your boiler serviced regularly
  1. Switch lights off
  2. Switch things off standby
  3. Unplug unused appliances
  4. Use energy efficient light bulbs - (although I have to say I hate them!)
  5. Switch electricity and gas providers
  6. Unplug gadget chargers when not connected to device
Although some of these are initially very expernsive there are things you can do such as loft insulatiion and sealing gaps that are very cheap to do:
  1. Double glazing
  2. Insulate pipes
  3. If renovating get salvage floorboards and put on top of ground floor floorboards
  4. Seal chimney with chimney balloon or newspaper
  5. Insulate loft & make sure it's thick enough
  6. Insulation under wooden floors
  7. Seal gap between floor boards with insulation foam
  8. Seal skirting board gaps with insulation foam
  9. Install cavity wall insulation - (expensive!)
  10. Install solid wall insulation  - (v, v expensive)
I would love to hear what energy saving tips you have adopted and what made the most difference to your bills.

This post is part of the fabulous Thrifty Families Carnival do hop over for all sorts of fabulous thrifty ideas from lots of different bloggers...

If you want to save energy this winter you may also like these posts from A Thrifty MumFamily BudgetingDiary of a Frugal Family and Frugal in Cornwall.


  1. Thanks for visiting my blog. I love Domessticity. I can't wait to see if you manage to do all the 75 things on your list. That is a lot to remember!!!

    1. A bit ambitious isn't it - but if I can just change a habit a week, I would just about make it. Am hoping that seeing the difference quickly in the bills will also provide a big motivation.

  2. Some great ideas for saving money. I live in layers and slippers all winter, but there are other ideas I have never thought of. thanks for sharing!

  3. We invested in electric mattress pads a few years ago. The bedroom is at 60 F but we are warm. The thermostat is timed to heat up to 65F a half hour before we get up. In the states they are called "set back" thermostats.

    Watch out for #7 on your bathroom list. If you don't remove enough of the steam/humidity you could end up with mildew. Take the cover off and insulate around the edges of the fan itself. Sometimes the installers leave big holes.

    1. That's great advice - thank you and thank you for popping over to the blog

  4. As energy bills keep getting (frighteningly) higher and it's so very very cold outside, I'm so glad to have stumbled across your post (and blog!). Some great tips here - please keep them coming!

  5. Thank you for taking part in the Thrifty Families blog carnival's now live!


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