I have the power! How to save energy as a parent
How do you save energy as a parent? It’s tricky when you seem to use a lot of it – heating always on, three washer loads a day….sound at all familiar?
We’ve had smart meters from British Gas for a while due to my gadget-loving husband. For something as day-to-day as energy usage, it’s surprisingly fun. Seriously; stay with me…
Smart meters are part of a Government-led national upgrade scheme to update the ageing energy system and improve energy efficiency across Great Britain. It’s an initiative being championed by British Gas, who have committed to offering all customers smart meters by 2020.
So what are smart meters? They are electronic boxes that measure and display the exact amount of energy you use in real time. Smart meters replace traditional gas and electricity meters. They come with a free smart energy monitor that is a small electronic gadget that shows you the amount you’ve spent, encouraging you to turn appliances off and use less energy. As it’s an exact measurement and not an estimation, you receive accurate bills, too.
Smart meters are really effective at putting the energy-wasting fear in you, especially in the winter, on those days when you’re cooking, have the washing machine on and also the heating on full blast.
From what we’ve learned so far from having ours, here are some of my tips to help you save energy when you’re a parent:
Making tea: Tea features heavily in my life, especially due to early starts and general all-round exhaustion (I have a toddler, what can I say? Tea is my life). But did you know that you should only boil the exact amount of water you need for the cup(s) you’re having? Don’t fill the kettle all the way if it’s just for you – it will waste energy.
Unplug chargers: Like most people I use my phone a lot in my day-to-day mumlife, for everything from replying to school emails to using the torch for all those bed-time sneak-outs. So I charge it a lot and I’m as guilty as anyone of leaving the charger constantly plugged in for easy access. But chargers use energy even when they’re not in use (so unplug).
Running the washing machine: Constant washing is one of the boring facts of life of parenting (how do such little people generate so much?) But washing at 30ºC rather than 40ºC can save you a third of the cost to run the cycle.
The not-so tropical home: When we had a baby it was winter and we were *terrified* of her getting cold. So we had the temperature cranked up to ‘rainforest’ at all times (my poor friend who came to visit had to politely ask if we could open a window). And even now, if it’s slightly cold I’ll put the heating on for ‘the children.’ But you don’t really need it to be so hot; turning the thermostat down even a degree can help save energy.
Turn off lights: An obvious one! But if your children see you do it they’ll know it’s important. And while ours can’t reach the switches, we encourage them to do the ones they can reach (like the bathrooms).
Invest in smart heating: We invested in Hive last year which has been brilliant. Did you know you can get smart heating controls that will turn heating on when you’re within a certain distance of your home – meaning you don’t have to have it constantly on (or come back to a cold house)? You control it via your phone, which is great for when you don’t get out of bed – and also great for not having it on constantly or on static times, meaning you’re saving energy too.
If you would like to know more about smart meters and how much energy you could save, visit the British Gas website.