Save Energy With One Simple Step #2

Last week I shared with you my first really easy and quick way to save energy, and hence money and the environment.  As I do love a good win-win, I’m back again today, as promised, with my second tip.

Without further ado:

tap

Yup, turn down the heat.  Specifically on your boiler’s hot water thermostat.  I know that boilers aren’t a particularly ‘sexy’ or hip topic but do bear with me.  Although they’re not hip, they’re not hippie (I’m a woman of my word after all!), and I promise you’ll learn something new and save a fair bit.

You see, the average boiler hot water thermostat in the UK is set to 65ºC, which is a tremendous waste of energy and money. Not only are you having to cool the water that you’ve spent money heating with cold water to be able to use it, but completely inefficient – heat loss from your boiler/hot water cylinder is also increased.

I’d recommend checking your boiler, or even just having a think about how hot your hot water taps are.  Do you find you have to add cold water when you’re washing your hands to bring it to a comfortable level?  Then your boiler temperature is probably set too high.  At 60ºC water is still sufficiently hot for almost all domestic uses, so go and turn it down to 60ºC (but not before you’ve read the safety advice below).  It’ll take less than a minute to do and you’ll have a nice warm glow, not from your boiler working too hard, but from saving both the environment and money (around £30 a year if you go from 65ºC to 60ºC).

A very important word of warning first: you don’t want to go too low with the temperature because at low temperatures the bacteria responsible for Legionnaires’ Disease, a potentially fatal lung infection spread through the inhalation of water bourne particles, can thrive and multiply.   According to the NHS, the legionnella bacteria (which cause the disease) require a temperature of between 20-45ºC to grow, so at 60ºC you’re well out of danger.  If you decide to set your hot water thermostat below 60ºC (not recommended) then make sure you heat the stored water to 60ºC at least once every 24 hours to prevent legionnela bacteria growth.  But Moral Fibres does not approve of setting your thermostat below 60ºC so this shouldn’t apply to you, should it?!

So there you go: turning down your boiler a few degrees will not only save you a pretty penny, and the environment, but you’ll also be reducing the risk of scalding from your bathroom or kitchen taps – which makes this a triple win!

I’ll be here again next Thursday, sharing with you my next easy money and environment saving tip, so do look out for it.  Remember you can also sign up for free to get each post delivered straight to your email inbox.  Look for the sign-up box in my sidebar, to your right.  I promise you won’t be inundated with spam!

 

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gardening for renters

Gardening for Renters

gardening advice for renters

This post is in partnership with Chris Bowers.  Please see my disclosure policy for more information.

I talk a lot about gardening and growing your own here on Moral Fibres, but what if you’re one of a growing number of renters, and have caught the green fingered bug?  Never fear, I’ve got some great tips on gardening for renters!

Having lived in my fair share of rented properties (14! What can I say, I moved around a lot as a student/young adult…!) I’ve lived in the entire spectrum of flats.  From inner city flats with no gardens, flats with a concrete yard, to flats with balconies, and flats/houses with gardens large and teeny tiny.

I’ve also experienced the entire landlord spectrum.  From the landlords who don’t mind what you do to the flat or the garden, as long as it’s clean and tidy when you move out (my personal favourite);  to the landlords who won’t let you do as much as hang a picture on your wall, and every other type of landlord in between.

Whatever your flat and landlord situation is, then there are lots of options for gardening for renters, and for growing your own to suit.

I’ve written from my own experience and I’ve asked gardening pro, Lyndsey Haskell, for some advice on gardening for renters too, but if we’ve missed any key advice then do add it in the comments below:

raised bed

Gardening for Renters

If you have moved into a flat/house with a garden and an easy going landlord who doesn’t mind what you do to your garden, then Lyndsey wisely suggests that  “it really pays to be patient and try to wait a year to see what is in the garden before you dig everything over. There may be some fabulous perennial plants ready to pop up at different times of the year.

Also, it’s a lot of work to dig over a garden and you never know when you’ll move out and want to take your plants with you. So to avoid planting things in the soil, it’s worth building a small raised bed or getting some containers or gro-bags which you can easily transport when you move. These solutions are really handy as you can better control the soil you are using too and it gives you a blank canvas for growing what you would like“.

balconygarden

Containers, tubs and gro-bags are highly recommended by me too.  One rented flat I lived in a few years ago had a balcony no bigger than the one pictured above.  We filled it with pots, plastic tubs, a wash basin, old pots, etc, and were self sufficient in lettuce, nasturtiums, chillies, herbs and pot grown strawberries that we bought online for the whole summer.  It’s a cheap and easy non-permanent gardening for renters solution, and you can take your tubs with you when you move.  It’s also great for gardens where the landlord won’t allow you to make any changes.  For growing larger items, large plastic trugs make handy portable planters (though might require a few people to help lift it!).

Container gardening is also a good option if you have a concrete yard, or if your only outdoor space is a doorstep.  While the old classic, window boxes, are great for growing herbs and lettuce in if you have absolutely no outdoor space whatsoever.

macrame

If you move into a flat with no outdoor space Lyndsey suggests that “the best things to grow indoors are some herbs and salad that don’t take up too much space and that you use a lot in your cooking, such as rosemary basil, parsley and lettuce. To maximise plant growing space think about suspending your pots on different levels using macrame or even invest in a fancy sky planter“.

Here’s a handy tutorial to make a trendy (yes, trendy, it’s true!) macrame plant pot holder if you’re feeling inspired.  Otherwise window ledges make great plant growing spots.  If there’s a radiator under the window just remember you’ll have to water your plants more frequently as they’ll tend to dry out faster.

allotment

Lyndsey’s final word of advice on gardening for renters is “alternatively, share your gardening space with other people. This might mean helping out a neighbour on their garden or sharing an allotment with friends. Or in some cases, joining in with a community garden. If you’re short on space or time, it takes the pressure off and means you get to share the work with other people and benefit from their wisdom“.

If this is for you then there are lots of garden share schemes popping up around the country, and you can sign up for an allotment via your local council.  You can also find local community garden schemes here that you can take part in to get growing!
Lyndsey’s blog also has some great gardening tips and inspiration, so do follow along.  And please add your advice and suggestions on gardening for renters in the comments below!
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