Solar or photovoltaic panels and inverters being installed at Old Hall Marshes RSPB reserve by Ethical Power and Liberty Energy, Essex, England

Save energy and reduce waste at home

There are dozens of little changes you can make to your lifestyle at home that will make a real difference to help conserve energy, reduce waste and save water. We've rated them in order of 'green-ness', so you can see how green you are!

Light green

  • Turn off TVs, videos and computer monitors at the socket - they use up energy even when they're on standby.
  • Defrost your freezer often and descale your kettle – these actions keep your appliances working more efficiently and by saving energy, you save money.
  • Make sure fridge and freezer doors aren't open for longer than you need them, as it makes appliances to work harder to keep cool.
  • Re-use plastic bags when you’re shopping.
  • Make full use of your local council’s recycling facilities.
  • Donate unwanted clothes, books and 'bric-a-brac' in good condition to charity shops. Unwanted furniture can go to charities which specialise in collecting and selling on furniture. 
  • Turn off the tap while you're brushing your teeth and teach kids this good habit too. When washing fruit and vegetables, use a bowl full of water rather than running the tap.
  • Take a shower instead of a bath. A 10-minute shower uses half the water of an average bath but be aware of power showers as they can use a third more water than the average bath.
  • Get a water meter installed – contact your water company for details. Monitor how much water you’re using, on a monthly or quarterly basis.
  • Some larger toilet cisterns can continue to work effectively with a smaller flush. Use a water displacement device to reduce the amount of water released each time you flush. You can place a brick or a full plastic water bottle in the cistern to reduce the flush volume. Alternatively, contact your water company for a water-saving device.

Green

  • When it's time for replacements, buy household goods such as fridges and washing machines with the best energy efficiency ratings – that is displayed as ‘A’ on a scale of A to G.
  • As appliances or equipment wear out, replace them with water-saving models.
  • Make sure your hot water tank has an insulating jacket. This will save you more each year than it costs. Insulating hot water pipes too will save you even more money and wasted energy.
  • Wear a jumper, keep the heat turned down! Turning down your thermostat by 1°C can cut 8 per cent off your fuel bill. The average British household spends a startling £620 per year on fuel and power. That’s about £200 too high, according to the Energy Savings Trust.
  • Many common items can be recycled at local authority sites, so check before you throw any of these away - clothes, handbags, pairs of shoes, televisions and audio equipment, fridges and freezers, batteries and engine oil.
  • Buy re-useable cloth bags to hold your shopping.
  • Compost your organic waste at the kerbside (if available) or buy your own to turn food scraps into a valuable resource for the garden.
  • Sign up to get your electricity from renewable sources. For more information on how to switch energy supplier, use the link on the right of this page to our green energy advice.
  • Avoid disposable goods whenever there’s a permanent, re-usable alternative.
  • Check for leakage in the supply pipe between the mains and your home. Many water companies will repair the supply pipe for free.
  • Monitor how much water you’re using, on a monthly or quarterly basis and figure out how you can reduce use.
Make and Do a salad garden, putting compost in wooden trough, Norfolk

Dark green

  • Replace old windows with double glazing, or fit secondary glazing. Have heavy curtains and draw them in winter to keep the heat in.
  • Buy solar panels which generate electricity or heat your hot water.
  • Think before you buy – reduce your overall consumption. Favour buying goods which can be re-used and recycled after their initial use.
  • If you don’t think your council offers enough recycling facilities at the kerbside, or at centralised facilities, write and tell them so.
  • Consider installing a rainwater recycling system in your home.
  • Consider installing a grey water recycling system (that’s the water which drains from sinks and baths).
  • If you're buying a new home, look for water recycling systems and other water-saving features.
Solar or photovoltaic panels and inverters being installed at Old Hall Marshes RSPB reserve by Ethical Power and Liberty Energy, Essex

How did you do?

Score mainly light greens?

You're making a good start to a green lifestyle. Why not take the next steps to saving our environment?

Score any greens?

Well done - you're already living a greener lifestyle than many people in the UK. Read on to find out what else you can do to make a real difference to the environment.

Score any dark greens?

Congratulations! You really are committed to green living. Make sure you get family and friends on board!

Ling heather Calluna vulgaris. Corrimony RSPB reserve. Scotland.

How you can help

ink cartridges

Recycle your old printer cartridges and you'll not only help the environment but help us continue our conservation work.