Question: With gas prices soaring, how do I save energy?
Answer: There are lots of simple things you can do to keep your Christmas cosy, despite record energy prices and plunging temperatures.
Here are some practical, everyday tips for cutting energy bills that will reduce your carbon footprint too:
Block that chimney
Santa won’t like it but it’s a good idea to block your chimney.
An inflated plastic pillow, a chimney balloon is an easy and affordable way to keep hot air in and cold air out.Draw your curtains
So many people leave their curtains or blinds open at night.
But if you close your curtains from dusk to dawn, you’ll stop expensive heat escaping via windows.
Low carbon that sparkle
Make sure your Christmas tree lights – and all other lights – are LEDs.
If you have lights outside, it’s worth investing in a timer, so they automatically switch off at a certain point.
This will help local wildlife too. Artificial light at night can disrupt bird behaviour.
Seal leaky windows and doors
If you can feel draughts around window and doors, you can quickly seal them with inexpensive rubber trim, available from most DIY shops.
Enhance your window dressing
Add a thermal lining to existing curtains or when buying new curtains, go for the thickest material you can afford and add alining. Same with blinds, choose a thermal option or blackout blinds.
If double glazing is too expensive, you can buy secondary glazing instead. An affordable film that you stick over windows, it can significantly reduce escaping energy.
Bringing the Christmas decorations down from the loft is the perfect time to check your roof insulation. A depth of 30cm is recommended. As heat rises, it’s definitely worth topping it up to save hundreds of pounds.
Regulate your temperature
Most people overheat their homes. The ideal temperature is 19 degrees Celsius. Every radiator has a TRV (Thermostatic Radiator Valve).
Check they’re on a lower setting in rooms you don’t use much and bedrooms. Snuggle up with a hot water bottle and an extra blanket to keep warm at night!
Put standby on standby
Parasitic energy is the energy wasted when you forget to turn off your TV or computers.
It’s literally throwing money away – as well as contributing completely needlessly to global warming. Turn off every machine when you’re not using it.
Lag those pipes
Improve your boiler’s efficiency by insulating all internal pipework – including in your loft – with lagging. You can buy it from a DIY shop or a plumber’s merchant.
The Queen (pictured, photo: Getty Images) – who famously derided world leaders not acting on climate action as “irritating” – has many eco-friendly measures at home.
Buckingham Palace uses computer systems to help control heating, cooling and hot water.
She also employs green champions, helping to shape an ongoing ten-year refurbishment that aims to improve the palace’s energy efficiency by 40 per cent.
It includes the addition of solar panels and an anaerobic digestion unit to make green gas from plant-based waste.
Swap your usual cocktail sausages for plant-based ones (pictured, photo: Shutterstock) this festive season.
Cutting back on meat is one of the best things you can do for the environment.
With exciting new veggie sausages out there, your kids won’t even notice the difference.
Five eco-friendly family Christmas activities
Christmas is a time of joy and togetherness, not maxing out your credit card and giving yourself a financial headache that will last well into spring.
There are lots of ways to enjoy time with your family without breaking the bank – or causing unnecessary harm to the environment.
Here are five ideas:
Bundle up and spend some time together in nature.
It’s scientifically proven to boost your wellbeing.
Visit your local park, nature reserve or National Park.
See if you can spot any Robins! If you’re near the coast, there’s nothing more invigorating than a brisk walk along the seafront on a winter’s day.
A hearty soup or warm drink will taste ten times better afterwards.
You can have a crafty afternoon together making Christmas cards by cutting up last year’s cards and wrapping paper and creating mini collages.
Pinterest is packed full of other creative ideas. Using biodegradable materials is key, otherwise you’ll contribute to landfill waste.
Avoid glitter as it’s made from plastic and can’t be recycled. And try to find non-toxic, naturally-based glue.
Christmas is meant to be about giving, so why not give your most precious commodity of all, your time?
You and your loved ones could volunteer together to do some conservation work at your local nature reserve or Wildlife Trust.
Or you could help look after the animals at a sanctuary.
If the timing doesn’t work for you to link up with a charity, you could look on the Random Acts of Kindness website for some ideas of things you can do to brighten other people’s days – and give yourselves a warm glow at the same time.
Baking together can be all kinds of fun.
Make gingerbread, spiced biscuits or mince pies.
To be as eco-friendly as possible, see if you can swap the meat-based suet in your mincemeat recipe for the vegetable variety.
It’s also a good idea to replace any dairy in your recipes with plant-based alternatives, which have a lower carbon footprint.
Puzzle it out
Who doesn’t love a jigsaw?
Drag your kids away from their screens and while away the hours around the dining table with a good old-fashioned puzzle or board game.
It’s a great multi-generational pastime and can be accompanied by plenty of festive snacks and family chit-chat.
Fact or fiction
It’s better and cheaper to leave your heating on at a low temperature all day.
If you’ve got gas central heating, this is false. Use your boiler’s timer – or, better still, one of the new smart controls – to heat your home only when you’re in.
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