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Home and Garden

Energy Saving, Home and Garden

14 Easy Ways to Save Energy (And Money!) In The Home

living room with grey sofa, cream rug and plants

Looking for easy ways to save energy and money to help beat the energy price rises? I’ve got you covered with my handy, useful, and practical renter-friendly tips to help cut your bills and keep you warm.

With the new higher energy price cap taking effect from Friday 1st October, millions of householders across Scotland, England, and Wales are set to see their electricity and gas prices soar. It’s estimated that household energy bills will rise by a massive £139 a year. What’s more, prepayment meter customers (typically those who can least afford energy price hikes) will see an even bigger £153 increase.

At a time when many householders have had their finances battered by the ongoing economic effects of the pandemic, it’s poor timing. Particularly, as the days get colder and darker, we are all going to be using more heating and lighting. Not only that but food price rises are stretching household budgets, Christmas is not that far around the corner, and many people will be impacted by the withdrawal of Covid support schemes. In short, it’s a financial sh*t storm for many, many householders.

Easy Ways to Save On Your Energy Bills At Home

Image of a living room with a blue text box that says easy ways to save energy and money at home.

I’ve been writing for almost 9 years here at Moral Fibres, and in that time I’ve covered a whole range of easy energy-saving tips. In a former life, I worked in a local Energy Saving Trust advice hub. I also hold a City & Guilds energy saving qualification, so energy saving is something I know more than a little about.

There are so many ideas on easy ways to save energy contained in these here archives. So much, that I thought it might be really useful if I collated them in one post for old and new Moral Fibres readers alike.  Here you can learn ways to save money on both your electricity and gas bills, without compromising on the comfort levels of your home. I promise none of my tips involve wearing multiple jumpers, hats, scarves, and gloves at all times. However, it is of course good practice to pop a jumper on when you are cold, before cranking up the thermostat!

Many energy-saving tips focus on the big stuff. Things like insulating your walls, or switching to double or even triple glazing. These are very valid energy-saving tips. However, as someone who rented for many years, I remember the frustration at having ambivalent landlords who didn’t care that my energy bills were sky-high. I also remember the frustration at lacking the autonomy to be able to make these improvements. So, for these tips, I’ve focused on the more accessible energy-saving tips that almost anyone can implement.

Let’s crack on with the tips!

Easy Ways to Save Energy In Your Kitchen

Cream kitchen with wooden worktops and white exposed brick walls

Here are some of my easy ways to save energy and money in the kitchen:

Food Storage

  • Did you know that freezers work best when they are full?  This is because freezers expend most energy when they have to cool down the warm air that gets in when you open the door to take food out. Here’s some clever tips to pack your fridge and freezer efficiently – from filling water bottles and reusing styrofoam packing blocks to keep your bills down.
  • On a similar vein, defrosting your freezer, is a pain but so worth it! Frost buildup in your freezer increases the amount of work your freezer’s motor has to do. If the motor is working harder, then this means it’s using more energy.  Keeping it fairly frost-free means savings for the environment and for you. Not convinced? This Is Money says you can save £100 to £200 a year just by defrosting your freezer.
  • Whilst you are defrosting your freezer, you may want to dust your fridge.  Specifically the coils at the back of the fridge, if you are able to do so. This is a surprising but effective tip, as when dust gathers on the condenser coils, it means your fridge has to work a lot harder.  A harder working fridge means more energy is being consumed by it to do its job. This, in turn, results in bigger electricity bills for you.  And it can shorten the life of your fridge, so you may have to fork out for a new fridge much earlier than if you’d been a bit more vigilant with the feather duster. According to Friends of the Earth, keeping your fridge’s coils clean can improve your fridge’s efficiency by up to a whopping 30%. 

How To Save Energy When You Are Cooking

  • Why using your microwave can be more efficient at cooking small portions of food. You can save 80% of energy compared to using an oven.
  • Similarly, why you should switch your microwave off at the wall when you aren’t using it. A typical microwave is on for 70 hours a year. Yet a microwave draws power for more than 100 times as long, just to keep the clock and electronic controls powered. That means you are using energy and paying extra on your bills for appliances you are not even using.
  • When you’re using your hob, it’s good practice to use a lid on your pans. This is because the lid keeps the heat in the pan, where it’s needed, rather than escaping into the air. Your food will cook faster this way, saving energy on your gas or electricity bills.

Cleaning

  • Open your dishwasher door before it starts the drying cycle to air dry your dishes. This can save up to 50% of your dishwasher’s energy.
  • Use a clothes horse instead of drying clothes on radiators. Hanging wet clothes on your radiator makes your boiler work harder, to get your room to your desired temperature. This means it takes longer to heat your home. In turn, this uses more energy to heat your home and costs you more money. That being said, ventilation is crucially important to help prevent health issues. If you can, dry your clothes in a room where you can open a window and close the door on it, to allow the air to circulate freely. If that’s not possible, opening your windows every day for at least fifteen minutes helps fresh air to freely circulate, reducing the chance of dampness occuring.
  • Why you should turn down your hot water thermostat to 60ºC The average boiler hot water thermostat in the UK is set to 65ºC. This is very inefficient and a waste of energy and money. At this temperature, you have to cool the water that you’ve spent money heating to be able to use it. Heat loss from your boiler/hot water cylinder is also increased at this temperature. You can save around £30 a year if you turn your boiler temperature down from 65ºC to 60ºC. Don’t set it below 60ºC though. You need your hot water to be at this heat to kill bacteria associated with Legionnaires’ Disease. This is a potentially fatal lung infection spread through the inhalation of water bourne particles.

Ways to Save In Your Living Room

living room with grey sofa, cream rug and plants

Looking for easy ways to save energy in your living room? I’ve got heaps of ideas for you:

  • Rearrange your furniture. Yes, really! If your sofa or any other bulky item of furniture is in front of your radiator then it will absorb a high percentage of the heat being emitted from your radiator.  This means you’ll have to run your heating for longer for your room to warm up.  Moving your sofa allows heat to circulate freely.
  • Why you should turn the brightness down on your TV. When TV sets are packaged for sale or display, they are set at much higher levels of brightness and contrast than really necessary. Manufacturers do this bit of trickery so the screens look all bright and jazzy in illuminated shop displays. However, the default brightness settings are too bright for most living rooms. Increased brightness and contrast on your TV means increased power consumption. By turning down the brightness this saves a surprising amount of energy.
  • Why it’s a good idea to get into the practice of charging your mobile phone during the day. Did you know that to charge an iPhone, it takes under an hour for a flat battery to reach 80% battery levels? Then it takes another 60 to 90 minutes to reach 100%. That’s 1.5 hours maximum, to recharge your phone’s battery. But if you sleep for around 8 hours on a good night, you are using 6.5 hours of extra power that doesn’t need to be used.  Leaving your phone on charge when it’s fully charged can also decrease the battery’s lifespan.
  • Finally, now that is is getting darker, here’s why you should close your curtains at dusk (and open them again as soon as you get up).

Have you got any easy ways to save energy?  Share with other readers in the comments below!

Home and Garden, Natural Cleaning

The Best Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products (That Work!)

eco cleaning products

Let me share with you my favourite environmentally and eco-friendly cleaning products from eco-conscious brands, that actually work, updated for 2021.

The eco-friendly cleaning products market can be mind-boggling. From what products actually work, to what products are actually environmentally friendly and what products are simply greenwash.

To help cut through the noise, I want to share my favourite eco-friendly cleaning products that I use on a frequent basis in my house.  These products have been independently verified through certification schemes, and I find that these products either match or exceed the cleaning performance of their harsher counterparts.

The Best Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products That Actually Work

Flat lay of cleaning products, eucalyptus leaves and lemons with a blue text box that says the best environmentally and eco friendly cleaning products that actually work

Here are my favourite brands and products that are the real deal when it comes to their eco-friendliness and effectiveness.

In order to help support the running costs of Moral Fibres, this post contains affiliate links, denoted by *. Moral Fibres may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to readers, on items that have been purchased through those links. This income helps keep this site running.

Eco-Friendly Dish Washing Products

For The Dishwasher

For the dishwasher, I haven’t found a way to make my own dishwasher detergent that works, so I like to use Ecoleaf Dishwasher Tablets (£13.49 for 70*; or £5.45 for 25*). These are a great eco-friendlier AND plastic-free dishwasher detergent.  These dishwasher tablets are designed to leave your dishes sparkling clean. They have a built-in rinse-aid, degreasing agents, and powerful cleaning action.  I’ve been using them in our soft water area and I concur.  I have found that they perform great on our dirty dishes and glassware.  I’ve also had no issues with their cleaning ability.

In terms of ingredients, it’s 99% good news. Made from plant-derived ingredients, the dishwasher tablets are free of phosphates, SLS, SLES, parabens, triclosan, and synthetic fragrances.  They are also certified cruelty-free and vegan-friendly.  The one downside is that they do contain palm oil.  However, as in all aspects of ethical living, it is practically impossible to find a product that is 100% perfect in every way.

Each tablet is wrapped in a water-soluble wrapper, that dissolves as your dishwasher starts running.  I initially worried that this wrapper might break down into microplastic.  The good news is Grist says no.  The wrapper simply breaks down to carbon dioxide and water. Panic over!

Find out more about other options in my guide to plastic-free dishwasher detergent.

For Hand Washing Dishes

Although I make a lot of my own cleaning products, making effective washing up liquid has always eluded me. As such, for handwashing dishes, I have been using Bio-D washing-up liquid* for years and years now.  I was initially skeptical the first time I used the washing-up liquid as it seemed quite watery.  My fears were unfounded as I found it’s got great cleaning power.  So much so that it is now the only liquid we use.  It’s around £2.50 for a big 750ml bottle, and often available in Oxfam shops, as well as natural food stores.  If you’re into bulk buying, it’s only £9.30 for 5 litres at Ethical Superstore*. My favourite scent is the pink grapefruit one.

Laundry

I mostly make my own laundry powder, but when life gets just too busy, I do admit I sometimes use shop-bought laundry powder. I, therefore, keep a bag of Bio-D laundry powder* under my kitchen sink. I’m really happy with its cleaning powers at 30°C.  I even used it on my daughter’s washable nappies for over two years, which was a real test of its cleansing and freshening powers!  

Speaking of washable nappies, I also found Bio-D’s laundry bleach* fantastic at sanitising and keeping washable nappies looking clean. It’s an oxygen-based antibacterial and sanitising in-wash whitener odour and stain remover, that does not contain chlorine bleaching agents. Even though we are well beyond the nappies stage, I still use the laundry bleach now to remove stains and to keep whites light and colours bright. Don’t be frightened by the term ‘bleach’ – it’s great for stains or smells, even on colourfast items.

All of Bio-D’s environmentally friendly cleaning products are vegan, certified cruelty-free, are made in the UK. What’s more, all of their ingredients are natural and plant-derived. This means they are free from triclosan, phthalates, petroleum derivatives, formaldehyde, chlorine bleach, genetically modified ingredients, and synthetic fragrances. They are also palm oil-free too.

For more recommendations, do check out my guide to the best eco-friendly laundry detergents, as rated by Ethical Consumer Magazine.

Surface Cleansing

I do make my own surface cleansing products because it’s so quick, cheap and easy. However, again, when life gets busy, and I’ve run out of ingredients, I do keep a bottle of surface cleanser under my sink just in case.

We’re hand-down Miniml fans when it comes to cleaning surfaces.  I love their French Lavender eco anti-bac surface cleaner* (£12 for a 5L refill carton).  It smells lovely and cleans easily.  You get a lot for your money in comparison to some other cleaning product brands, and I use it all around the house.  I even dilute it in water to mop my floors.  Basically, if I’m not using vinegar then I’m using this.  Lavender is naturally anti-bacterial and anti-fungal so it meets all of my needs.

Miniml is a refillable and environmentally friendly cleaning product brand. As well as being able to order Miniml* products online, they also offer a great refillable and reusable cleaning system. To help support this you’ll find eco-friendly refill stations around the UK, for things like washing-up liquid and surface cleaning. And for those shopping online, bulk delivery containers can be returned and reused. What’s more, all Miniml products are vegan, cruelty-free, and completely biodegradable. 

The Brands I Avoid

There are many supposedly environmentally and eco-friendly cleaning products brands that I avoid.

Ecover and Method, for example, were bought over by consumer goods giant SC Johnson in December 2017. SC Johnson owns household cleaning brands such as Duck, Shout, Glade, Pledge, and Windex, none of which use environmentally friendly ingredients or take action on single-use plastic. What’s more, Ethical Consumer Magazine says SC Johnson has been linked to animal testing, tax avoidance strategies, unethical palm oil sourcing, and more.

In the past two years or so, there has also been a proliferation of dissolvable cleaning product brands pop up – from dissolvable sachets to dissolvable laundry sheets. I have tried a few, including Smol and Ocean Savers and Iron & Velvet, and I have been disappointed. Some don’t use eco-friendly or plant-based ingredients, some don’t have Leaping Bunny cruelty-free certification, and some simply don’t work. One dissolvable laundry sheet product made a terrible sticky mess of my washing machine. I don’t have any recommendations at present, but if this changes I will update this post!

So there you go, a round-up of some of my favourite environmentally friendly cleaning products, and my not so favourite ‘eco’ products.  Any favourites you want to add? Any you were disappointed by?