energy Research

What are your bad energy habits?

Q3 2015

With the removal of several renewable energy programmes, ‘value for money’ energy efficiency will become far more important for everyone. Andrew Crowther from Strutt & Parker’s Resources & Energy team looks at our bad energy habits.

With the removal of several renewable energy programmes, ‘value for money’ energy efficiency will become far more important for everyone. Andrew Crowther from Strutt & Parker’s Resources & Energy team looks at our bad energy habits.

With subsidies for various forms of renewable energy being rethought, people are reviewing their everyday actions to help save not just money, but also the environment.

We take a look at what you’re doing at home and in the office that could be costing the earth.

Ways to save energy at home

From simple steps like turning things off to more advanced planning, there are a number of ways to break the bad energy habits you’ve picked up over the years.

1. Stop fridge browsing

A study by the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences in the US found people ‘browsing’ for food in the fridge waste up to 120kWh of electricity a year. That’s enough to run your dishwasher every week for a whole year. Know what you want before you go in.

2. Don't keep the home fire burning

It’s nice to be cosy, especially when the summer turns to be not as warm as we hoped. Many of us are tempted to notch the thermostat up by a couple of degrees when we’re a little colder. But by keeping the thermostat at a steady 19 °C, you can stay warm and energy efficient. If you do get colder, try a jumper.

3. Avoid overheating water

For baths, showers and washing up, you don’t need boiling hot water. Check your boiler’s thermostat regularly to see what temperature your water is actually at. You should be aiming for 60°C; any more than this wastes energy.

4. Mind the gaps

You’ve probably felt that breeze for years but simply turned up the thermostat if it’s making the room too cold. But this is simply avoiding the problem and using up unnecessary energy. Seal gaps around doors with draught proof strips and windows with flexible sealant to block out the wind.

5. Don’t stand by

While recent changes to chargers has reduced their power output when plugged in but not charging to less than 0.5 watts, other items left on standby like radios, TV, Blu-Ray players, consoles and more can slowly sap energy.

Use a power strip as a central ‘shut off’ point so you can cut the power entirely from one button when they are not being used. Or install remote control plugs to easily switch off before you leave the room.

How you can save energy in the work place

Work has enough challenges without having to worry about recycling and the environment. But it only takes a few simple steps to make a difference.

1. Turn equipment off

Equipment accounts for 15% of the total electricity used in offices, rising to 30% by 2020, The Carbon Trust claims. Switching it off, along with lights, at the end of the day will have a major impact. For larger items that are used less frequently, like scanners, only turn them on when needed. Or use timer plugs on appliances that have a regular operating schedule, such as printers. Run a communications campaign in the office to encourage staff to switch off.

2. Stop needless printing

The paperless office was never going to succeed 100% but we’re still printing more than we need to. Think of this next time you go to print out an email – each A4 piece of paper uses 10 litres of water to make. What’s worse is that a study by the US Environmental Protection Agency found 45% of the paper printed in offices ends up in the bin by the end of the day.

3. Stop ignoring recycling bins

Most offices will have recycling facilities, so use them - and not just when you’re in the kitchen. Go through your desk at the end of the week and find any recyclables. These could be empty cans, plastic wrapping for stationary items or cardboard delivery boxes. Try setting up recycling points next to your desk.

4. Embrace the blinds

A number of offices are fitted with blinds that are occasionally used if the sun is shining on your screen. But they can also be used to make your office more eco-friendly. In winter, they can lock in the heat of the building, while also keeping offices cool in summer meaning you can turn off the air con.

5. Regulate your areas

Each room has different temperature needs. But a lot of offices simply set a single temperature throughout the building. Check the heating controls regularly - good practice suggests temperatures of 20°C in working spaces, 18°C for toilets and common areas, and 15°C for storerooms. Encourage your staff to report any areas that are too hot, cold or draughty as finding problem areas can help to identify maintenance issues.

Our recent Housing Futures survey highlighted that homes that had more environmental options, such as: insulation, double/triple glazed windows, and energy-efficient ratings (grade D or greater) would be features people desire in their new home, to find out more about our findings, download the  full report here.