Burning Issues – Top Tips for making your life greener

Much of our eco-footprint comes from how we heat and light our homes, and using the appliances that we rely on for our everyday existence.

It is possible to reduce your footprint by buying from a renewables tariff. We use a company called Good Energy, which buys and sells renewable electricity only. Also, having energy-efficient appliances only helps to further reduce our bill. We choose to have fewer electrical goods than many people, we switch everything off at the wall, and all our light bulbs are compact fluorescents, which make more light than heat, unlike the more usual incandescent light bulbs.

Little things can all add up to a lower bill and a more ethical life. We are told not to overfill the kettle. But many people don’t know it is more energy efficient to heat water in the microwave. We heat mugs of water in the microwave (two minutes for one, three minutes for two) and then add coffee or a teabag.

But big things – such as insulating your loft and cavity walls, fitting draught excluders and replacing old doors and windows with new double (or triple!) glazed units – are vital. We have 1930s solid walls with no cavity to fill with foam, but our next home improvement is to fit the coldest room with internal wall insulation.

Although the house has a gas central heating boiler, we only use it for occasional hot water, mainly in the summer when we use our woodstoves less.

These smoke-free woodstoves are my favourite low-impact appliances. We have two Shropshire-built “Clearview” stoves, plus insulated, concrete-lined chimneys.

I enjoy sourcing and preparing the logs many of which are cycled home with my bike trailer, cut with a big bow saw and split with a pyramidal wedge called a log grenade.

I take pride in stacking them so they dry properly, and enjoy watching them burn cleanly. Better still, we cook and heat bath water using the flat tops of both stoves.

The result of our efforts: a cleaner way of living, and a fossil-fuel gas bill of £60 a year.

John Cossham is Community Care’s ethical living expert. 

Read his blog:
John’s Weird World 

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