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How to be energy efficient

Friday 4 October 2019, UCAS advice

by Ella Hendrix

How to be energy efficient

Relevant to
Ella Hendrix
As a student with numerous financial constraints, you might feel it’s difficult to be super energy efficient. We all know how important it is to try to do our bit to help the planet, but if it costs extra money to do so you can sometimes find yourself torn about what to do.
 
Being energy efficient, however, isn’t only good for the environment, it will almost always save you money in the long run – a double whammy of goodness.
 
Whether you are heading off to uni for the first time, or you’re moving out of halls and into a shared house, there are a number of things you can do to become an energy efficient student, help save the planet, and help to save your pennies as well.
 
1. Heating
Heating is one of the most energy thirsty parts of the home. So, by reducing the amount of heating you use, you reduce the energy you use, and also save yourself money. Try to turn your thermostat down a couple of degrees. Even one degree can make a big difference to your heating bills, and often you won’t even notice. 
 
If you do get cold, put some extra clothes on or snuggle under a warm blanket when you’re settling down to watch a film. Hot water bottles are also a great investment.
 
Also, remember to turn your thermostat right down during holidays or when no one will be home. Remember, though, when it is really cold – for example, during the Christmas holidays, keep your heating on low – otherwise you run the risk of your pipes freezing and potentially bursting.
 
2. Property Energy Performance Certificate
When you rent a student property, the landlord is required by law to provide a valid Energy Performance Certificate. This is carried out by an independent assessor who will look at how energy efficient the property is, and give advice on what energy saving measures can be carried out. This is also useful for you as a potential tenant to get a good idea of what your energy bills will be like. 
 
Make sure your landlord is taking their legal requirements seriously, provides you with an EPC, and is doing what they can to make their property as energy efficient as possible.
 
3. Electricity
There are lots of things you can do to save electricity around the house. This includes:
  • Make sure you turn the lights off when you leave the room – and use as much natural light as you possibly can.
  • Only put as much water in the kettle as you need.
  • Don’t leave anything on standby.
  • Unplug chargers and laptops when they aren’t being used.
  • Use your microwave instead of an oven (it doesn’t need heating up and usually heats food more quickly).
  • Enable your computer’s ‘sleep mode’ so it turns off after a few minutes’ of inactivity.
  • Try to keep your freezer as full as possible.
  • Turn the temperature down on your washing machine (heating the water is what uses the most energy).
  • Cook together.
  • Turn the oven off before you have finished using it – it will still stay hot for a while.
  • Try replacing your lightbulbs with low energy LED lights – they use about 90% less energy, and last a lot longer.
  • If you have a dishwasher, use it! Dishwashers use less energy than conventional washing-up – as long as it’s full when you put it on.
  • Try to reduce the number of electronic gadgets you use.
4. Water
It’s important to try to reduce the amount of water we waste, as well as energy. Wasting hot water is twice as bad as it can be energy intensive to heat water until it’s hot. Try to reduce the amount of hot water you’re making, as well as reduce wastage as much as you can.
 
Choosing to take a shower instead of a bath is a great way to reduce the amount of water and hot water you use, and a water-saving showerhead is even better for reducing water wastage. If you’re having a wash, fill the basin instead of leaving the tap running – and remember to turn the tap off when you are brushing your teeth.
 
There is plenty you can do to try to save energy, but it’s important to remember that it is a responsibility for everyone. That means trying to make sure your housemates are just as energy efficient as you. By working together and everybody doing their bit, we can go a long way to helping to look after our planet.