Beth Kayser

How to save electricity (money and emissions) at home

6 min Read
Family sits around table

Powering your home is expensive right now. Here are some top tips to help you cut down on unnecessary energy usage, and in doing so cut down on the carbon footprint of your home!

Know your big hitters...

Modern homes are often chock-full of electric devices, from the essentials, to those which… aren’t. Let’s be honest, no one really needs a bluetooth mirror that tells you when your toast is done (that’s a thing, google it if you don’t believe us).

Some of the most energy-hungry appliances are those used for day-to-day tasks, such as washing machines, tumble dryers, and dishwashers. While it’s not great that they’re energy-guzzlers, it does mean that small lifestyle changes around these items can make a real difference. Here are some simple ways to cut your carbon footprint (or Pawprint, if you will).

Remember: These are estimates, not definitive numbers. Knowing exactly how much water you personally boil when making tea is impossible (or creepy).

Washing machine: Wash on 30℃° and save 33.6 kg CO2e per year. Also, only ever wash a full load.

Assumptions:

  • Washing at 30 saves 40% energy per year (Energy Saving Trust)
  • You do a wash every two days
  • You’re using a 5kg washer with A energy rating
  • Your washing machine lives for 10 years

Tumble dryer: Only use it if/when necessary in winter (once or twice a week depending on the number of people you are washing for) and save nearly a quarter of a tonne of CO2e per year.

Stop using it altogether and save nearly a third of a tonne. That’s almost a return flight from Edinburgh to Rome!

Assumptions:

  • You’re using a 7kg tumble dryer with B energy rating
  • You use your tumble dryer 3 - 4 times a week at current, but would only use it once a week in winter to wash hard-to-dry items like sheets
  • On its current trajectory, your tumble dryer will live for 10 years. It would live for 15 years if you cut the amount you use it

Freezer: Invest in an A++ model fridge freezer and save 34.8 kg CO2e per year.

Assumption:

  • You currently have a 30-year-old fridge-freezer (Source: The Guardian)

Dishwasher: Set your dishwasher to run late at night when electricity demand is low and the grid is more efficient.

Unless there’s a midnight snacker among you, this will also ensure you get every last item from the day in it. On a relevant side note, washing by hand is marginally better for the environment, but not as hygienic.

Electric hob: in summer, use it less.


It would be ridiculous to suggest that to become a low carbon footprint house you need to stop cooking. However, in summer there’s certainly scope to reduce the amount you use your hob. Think fresh, in-season salads, tapas, and picnics.

Kettle: Only boil what you need and save around 16 g CO2e per hot drink.

If you have two cups of tea a day (which we feel is conservative, at least for the Pawprint team) that’s 11.68 kg CO2e saved per year, per person. So, if someone tries to tell you it’s impolite to leave an empty kettle, gently (but smugly) remind them of the bigger picture.

Assumptions:

  • The avg. cup holds 250ml water
  • You fill your kettle to 1L when making a cup of tea
  • Therefore 750ml are wasted every boil

Lastly, if you’re reading this thinking ‘well what about renewable/green energy?’ We cover it in Green Energy Tariffs Explained.

Basically, be sure to ‘read the label’. When it comes to energy, the word ‘green’ might not mean exactly what you think. Do your research to ensure that your supplier aligns with your carbon-reduction goals.

And remember that ultimately, if you want to become a low carbon footprint house, it’s sustained changes to your energy habits that will have the biggest impact.

Pawprint’s carbon footprint data is powered and fact-checked by Mike Berners-Lee’s Small World Consulting.  Mike is an advisor to Pawprint and author of How bad are bananas?  the carbon footprint of everything

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