Trim your waste line and you’ll feel the economic benefits
A MONTH into 2014 and any New Year resolutions are likely to have been broken or even completely forgotten. The most common ones that have already been abandoned seem to involve phoning or visiting elderly relatives more frequently, eating less chocolate or using that gym membership more effectively by going at least four times a week (well maybe three times....or at least twice!).
So you might conclude that making these resolutions really was, in the first place, a waste of time and money.
Being less wasteful is, of course, another common resolution. Despite the fact that the government is boasting that the economy is picking up, unemployment falling, house prices rising and that we are on the road to a sustained recovery, household running costs are still increasing. So, this means that finding ways to cut costs at home should be a resolution well worth enforcing. Here are a few little hints.
1. Never waste water. It’s a precious commodity and we have become rather complacent now that we are so used to it just flowing out of our taps with a simple twist of the wrist and with little thought of the cost. Just remember how horribly inconvenient it is when we suffer the water supply being cut off. As a basic rule, if there’s nothing between the spout and the plug hole, chances are that the water is just flowing down the drain and being wasted. The water consumption in most homes is increasingly being metred so the less we use, the less it costs. Simple.
2. Don’t boil more water in a kettle than you actually need to use. Around 25 years ago, a study showed that boiling water that wasn’t needed wasted £100m each year in power costs alone, and that must have increased at least five fold since then, which equates to at least £30 per household every year.
3. Don’t leave battery-powered appliances on charge over night. Once they are fully charged, they should be unplugged straight away. Not only is this better for the battery, it always removes the risk of wasting electricity. Many current model mobile phones are fitted with a device that cuts off the power supply when the battery is fully charged but many other gadgets don’t. You can easily tell which do and which don’t. If the plug or transformer of a fully charged appliance stays warm when the battery’s full, then it is still consuming power and you’re wasting electricity. Similarly, appliances left on “stand by” are still using electricity albeit in very small amounts. It’s so easy to turn off televisions, DVD players, computers, printers, espresso coffee machines, stereos, washing machines and the like, especially the ones that beep to let you know that they’re not being used. Oh, and don’t forget to turn lights off when you don’t need them and close the fridge door as soon as you can. These savings can really be quite significant.
4. Don’t waste food. A staggering 4.2 million tons of food is thrown out from our homes every year. The most common wastage is of fruit, milk and bread. This has a value of £12.5 billion and means that an average household with children throws away food costing over £700 every year. Better planned shopping and storage is clearly well worth it. And, by the by, another three million tons of food is thrown out by shops, supermarkets and restaurants every year.
So, if there’s one resolution that’s worth making and keeping then it is simply to reduce waste.
We all can do it without much effort and we’ll all feel a little better about ourselves and reap the economic benefits too. It may be a little late for a New Year resolution but it’s not too late to reduce the “waste” line.
Robin and Patricia Silver are owners of The Home store at Salts Mill, Saltaire, www. thehomeonline.co.uk.
If you have any other waste reducing hints you’d like to share with Robin and Patricia, email [email protected]