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17 September 2014
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Penney Poyzer

Waste not want not

You can make simple changes to your lifestyle that will save pounds on your household bills and help the environment too. Follow Penney Poyzer's easy tips on how to cut down on your domestic waste.

Reducing energy bills

Air conditioning

On a hot night, when you're tempted to use air-conditioning, switch off electrical appliances such as TVs, stereos and DVDs. They generate heat and will add to your discomfort. A cool quick shower before bedtime will also help you to sleep.

Washing machines

Hang it out

Use a washing line to dry your clothes instead of a tumble dryer.

Be economical when washing and only wash your clothes when you have a full load. Today's washing powders are just as effective on low temperature programmes - saving energy and money. If you've got economy 7, use a timer to wash at night when electricity is cheaper.

Freezing cold

Make sure your freezer is energy efficient, by checking the door seals are working and not leaving the freezer open for long periods of time. Defrost regularly and make sure it's positioned away from any hot appliances in your home. Replacing your old freezer with an energy efficient one could save you money on your bills.

Saving water


Turn it down

To save energy, set your hot water thermostat to 60C/140F.

Have a refreshing shower instead of a bath. Although, a power shower can use more water than a bath! A five minute shower uses 35 litres of water, compared to a bath that uses 80 litres - this can save over 300 litres of water a week. Fit a flow restrictor to the shower and restrict flow to six litres a minute for optimum flow and water saving. Suitable for mains or power showers.


The humble toilet accounts for a third of total domestic water consumption, we are literally flushing money down the pan every time we flush. To cut consumption, reduce the number of times you flush. A number of water-saving items can be ordered through the Thames water website.

Fitting a save-a-flush (a bag of harmless crystals) in your toilet cistern can save up to one litre per flush giving a saving of nearly 2,000 litres per person per year. Installing a hippo (designed to work in toilet cisterns with a nine litre flush or greater) can save up to three litres a flush - amounting to 5,000 litres per person per year.

With increasing water prices and declining rainfall, if you are about to renovate your bathroom, you might consider installing a water-saving loo. Find out more about eco-friendly products and where you can buy them.

Watering the garden

A drought could still be upon us! So water your garden with a watering can. A watering can uses nine litres of water whereas a sprinkler uses 540 litres per hour. To conserve water, use a mulch such as bark to cover the bare soil between plants, this will reduce evaporation as will watering early morning and towards dusk. For more information on saving water in the garden, visit BBC Gardening website.

Insulating your home

Insulate yourself against rising bills

Keep it warm

Close your curtains at dusk to stop heat escaping from your windows.

Insulating your roof is not the most exciting of ideas, but with gas bills on the rise (up to 15 per cent increase announced early August) it makes sense to get your roof space ready for the heating season.

Grants are available for roof insulation, and if you're in receipt of benefits you may be eligible for a 100 per cent grant. Go to for further information.

Don't see red

By switching off stand-by buttons, you save energy. The blinking red eye consumes at least 50 per cent of the energy it takes when the TV is on.

Wall-to-wall saving

Up to 33 per cent of the heat produced in your home is lost through the walls. So, it's worth considering cavity wall insulation as an effective way to save energy in your home. Find out if your home is suitable for cavity wall insulation and whether you're applicable for a grant at the Energy Saving Trust website.

Food on a budget


One of the biggest areas of household waste is food. Every person in the UK wastes £400 worth of perfectly good food a year. Do what your granny did and plan a weekly menu - and stick to it when you shop! Granny knew the art of housekeeping and made sure every penny spent on food went as far as possible. Follow her lead and watch your shopping bills drop and your dustbin grow lean.

Grow your own

Kitchen waste

Learn how to create the perfect compost with the help of BBC Gardening.

There is a renaissance in allotment keeping. For a small rental, you can have your own plot and grow fresh food. By sharing the work with friends or family, you lighten the load and taking holidays is not so risky. Contact your local authority to find out your nearest site. The national society of allotment and leisure gardeners also has great advice on getting started.

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