I know I’m not alone in loving a dry day when I can hang my washing to dry outside on the line. There is something satisfying in seeing towels and sheets blowing around and not using any energy other than the wind or sun. It makes me feel happy! So what happens when it’s pouring with rain, just drizzling or is damp and foggy and nothing will dry? The options are:
a) get out the clothes airer turn on the heating and load all your radiators with wet washing. – Clothes might dry a bit stiff, and can create a damp atmosphere and associated health risks particularly for those with asthma or other allergic conditions;
b) Use a ‘Sheila’s maid’ or retractable clothes line in the garage, carport or porch – clothes might get a dry eventually!
c) Load it all into the tumble dryer, if you’ve got one, and worry about the energy costs later. (Check the running costs on Sust-it)
There are other options such as plug-in airers – however these potentially have the same issues as drying clothes on radiators – the moisture has to go somewhere. A Rotaire Dryline (a rotary washing line with a cover), might offer a good solution if it the weather is initially dry but rain is forecast. You could also bag your washing up and take a trip to the local launderette – remembering to take a bag full of coins to feed the dryer.
Whatever, it’s a dilemma and I can understand the wash day blues, (cue Dolly Parton), and really admire how past generations coped. Perhaps we should put more emphasis into designing clothes that need washing less or that are quicker to wash and dry. Never mind Smart TVs – Smart clothing is what we need!
Student accommodation has come a long way in recent years – the purpose built – en-suite, well equipped, serviced flats that many first year students experience is very different from the cold, damp rooms I remember. No worries about energy bills or how many showers you can take, it’s usually all included in the rent. So it can come of something as shock when students move on to house sharing, and realise that you have pay for electricity, gas and even water! Some canny landlords include an ‘extra’ cost for utility bills – requiring payment even during the long holidays. Beware of this, one student told me his house of 8 were all asked to pay £11 per week for utility bills – paying the landlord £4576, they did the bills themselves, paid £25 per month and saved £2,000.
However, there are many students living in damp, poorly insulated houses – and all too aware of the cost of energy. I’ve heard stories of students, like older people, not daring to put the heating on because of the cost. With many students wanting to grab the best houses for next year it’s worth reminding them to look at the heating system, and look for any energy guzzling appliances and to think about the energy bills with any property. In the meantime, GreenChoices have put together some tips for students on saving energy, saving money and staying warm!
- Check out the energy performance of any property and likely bills before you sign anything. The less you have to pay for heating the more you can spend going out!
- Get that boiler working right – make sure the landlord has it serviced and that it is running correctly before you move in – it’s a legal requirement! Get familiar with how the heating system works.
- Don’t be tempted to save on the gas by plugging in an electric heater. You’ll be clicking up the kilowatts and the £’s, not to mention the CO2 emissions.
- Boring … but do as your parents say and put on an extra jumper before turning up the thermostat.
- Cook in bulk or together – saves on washing up as well!
- If you have a tumble dryer– check the filter is clear, and water container (if a condenser model) emptied. Don’t overload and keep use to a minimum. See how much one costs to run at Sust-it
- Stop draughts – Pull the curtains – and ask your landlord for thermal linings (worth a try) or pick up some heavy retro curtains from the charity shop.
- Defrost the freezer – it will be easier to open as a result!
- Turn things off! Chargers, lights, straighteners, TV’s – it all adds up.
- Wash your clothes at a low temperature and go easy on the detergent. Share your loads so you always do a full wash.
Now that the clocks have changed and the chances of a late Indian summer diminished, thoughts of staying warm and saving money come to mind. And whilst high energy prices rather than the worry of climate change may be the main motivator in reducing our energy bills, for some, reducing their ‘carbon footprint’ will be what it’s all about. So, it won’t be saving money in order to afford flying to a ski resort in the Alps, it’s about looking at the bigger picture and reducing our overall impact. The complexities of how you can develop a thriving economy whilst reducing our carbon emissions are for those with bigger brains than mine, but it seems not Lord Heseltine’s: “No stone unturned in the pursuit of growth” makes no mention of the need to create a greener economy – not even the words “green shoots” appear!
And it’s surprising how much energy we still waste, and at the same alarming that people are scared to use their heating because of cost. So what can you do to reduce your energy usage? Nothing revolutionary to offer here, just some suggestions…..
Stop the heat escaping if you can – free loft insulation is still available in many areas.
- Check draughts around doors and windows and fit draught excluders
- Turn off appliances and lights when not in use and don’t forget all those ‘phone and laptop chargers left plugged in.
- Try to use appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines only when full.
- Fit curtains with thermal linings.
- I don’t want to say put on a cardy and some thick socks – but and the same time don’t be tempted by the “Hollyoaks” effect and expect to swan around in a bikini – TV studio’s are hot places!