General ramblings

The Great Energy Race

March 1, 2014

Last year, I was lucky enough to be invited by Ecover, to the Observer Ethical Awards-if you missed it, I blogged all about it here.

Guardian-Ethical-Awards-Fly-Static-940x95
The intention of this year’s ninth Ethical Awards is to make as much noise as possible about the extraordinary people, projects and places that are bringing about ethical change, and the 2014 motto is “Be Better in This Life”.
I like that motto 🙂

A new category for 2014, is the Great Energy Race, which is being sponsored by B&Q. They are looking for an “undiscovered energy saving genius”. Nominations are I think now closed, and they have come up with a long-list of 20 households who will have 28 days to “put their genius to work and inspire us with how much cash and energy it’s possible to save with a little innovation and lots of inspiration.”
And yes, you guessed it, I entered, and we are one of the 20 households now in the Race!
We will get a visit from a B&Q energy advisor, who will assess our energy consumption at the moment, and then we get £250 to spend as ingeniously as possible and demonstrate some awesome energy saving savvy.
No pressure then.
So that’s where you lot come in.
I NEED YOUR HELP!!!
And your best energy saving ideas.

When I think about the energy that we use in our house, I tend to think in terms of:

  • Cooking
  • Gadgets and appliances
  • Heating and water

I reckon they are the biggest energy consuming things that we do-have I missed anything?
So when the race starts (10th March), I thought I would blog weekly for the duration, asking for your energy saving tips in each of these three categories-it can be anything you like-from energy saving light bulbs, to wearing an extra jumper. It doesn’t have to be things that cost money to implement-the more innovative the better as far as I am concerned! In fact, I am considering trying to do a Make Do and Mend version of the Race, and spend as little as possible (I acknowledge that this may not go down with the sponsors…!). So ideas for Upcycled, Recycled, Making Do Energy Saving would be especially welcome.

So are you up for it?
Will you help me out?
Hubby and I have had a bit of a brainstorm, and come up with a few things, but the more brains we have on this the better.
And I promise I will collate all the hints and tips into another blog post each week, to make it easy for everyone to share all the ideas 🙂

PS. You can still nominate for your favourite Ethical hero in the other categories until the 21st March-just have a peek here
PPS. You can follow all the excitement on Twitter-the hashtag is #GERace

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  • Reply And They’re Off! | My Make Do and Mend Year March 10, 2014 at 7:00 am

    […] blogged last week about The Great Energy Race-a competition from the Observer Ethical Awards that we are taking part […]

  • Reply Sarah March 4, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    I lived off grid for six month last year relying solely on 1 wind turbine and one solar panel to feed a 12v supply. It is truly possible to live without a refrigerator (cold stores are sufficient and most the stuff people put in there don’t need to be in there anyway), I still no longer have a microwave or tumble dryer at all, only use gas for cooking but I kinda cheat in that I eat my main meals at work and my son at school so in the evening we have sandwiches/salads etc. Your phones/tablets don’t use up much energy at all and if organised enough can be done through your car battery charger. Even go as far as hiding your hair dryer and letting it dry naturally. TV I guess with kids will be a big one as is the computer, but try switching them off certain nights for craft nights and board game nights etc. Lighting… well again how extreme do you want to go? You can use candles, solar fairy lights, I used to leave mine out in the day and bring in at night – jars are good for this! Also heating there is the plant pot radiator, I haven’t tried it yet but I imagine it would be sufficient to heat a medium sized room this time of year. Hot water bottles, blankets, thermal vests, draft excluders, I would basically start with your own internal audit, go around to every socket in your house, check what’s plugged in and think, how can I reduce or replace this?

    • Reply Jen March 4, 2014 at 10:12 pm

      Wow, I am in awe of you. That is amazing. Great advice-thankyou!

  • Reply Chris March 2, 2014 at 11:46 am

    I have a few ideas. I hope they help.

    Make a wondebox and use it instead of the slow cooker. The instructions are at http://www.iwillprepare.com/cooking_files/Wonder_Box.htm and could be made from fabric found in a charity shop. I have got as far as printing off the instructions.

    Use a Remoska instead of an oven [see the Lakeland website, I cook everything from bread to cakes to roast chicken in mine. You maybe able to pick up a second hand one on e-bay or Freecycle

    Clean all windows, light shades and light bulbs. Fluorescent strips and I suspect CFLs give out less light after about a year so move the old ones to a bedroom when one fails and use the newest in the lounge or kitchen.

    Line all curtains, I use fleece, plastic but it is recycled, close them at dusk or when it is hot outside [I wish] and keep the sum out. Use a piece of bent cardboard above radiators below windows and tuck the curtains behind it to stop the cold from the windows from dropping into the room.

    Use radiator valves and turn off/down radiators in rooms you are not using, but keep the door shut. My granny used to have curtains on internal doors to keep the living room warm. Use a blanket in the evening and snuggle up on the couch.

    • Reply Chris March 2, 2014 at 1:21 pm

      2 more thoughts
      Store your summer duvet under/instead of your bottom sheet so you are sleeping between 2 duvets. This is wonderfully warm and comfortable

      Air wash your cloths. If they are not stained and have only been worn once or twice hang them in the fresh air for a couple of days and then wear them again. This was taught to me by a friend who lived in the Congo where water and washing machines are hard to come by.

  • Reply fenendfarm March 2, 2014 at 8:47 am

    I was going to suggest a wonder bag too, or you could make yourself a haybox oven, though the bag takes less space. I use a haybox and it’s great for any wet foods like soup, stew, curry etc. Gives you a lovely smug feeling to use it! Another tip is always using lids on saucepans if you don’t already. Also I think you can get saucepan dividers for cooking 3 veg in one pan (if you like to keep them separate! Otherwise just cook together!).
    Ovens are the most energy hungry appliance so you could come up with ideas for avoiding using it. Maybe only use one day a week and do all your baking at once to make best use of heat. If you have space you could build a wood fired oven in your garden!

  • Reply Rae Hodgetts March 1, 2014 at 11:00 pm

    Ooh – I remember last year and ‘the great dress dilemma’ 😉
    I’d be interested to hear how much of a difference a Wonderbag makes. I guess that cutting down on baking and eating lots of salads, or going out for meals, might be cheating, but perhaps you could BBQ a big meal?
    Maybe try to use free WI- Fi or, even better, recharge your appliances on trains or in public libraries? Oh, and give up TV and invest in rechargeable batteries if you like to listen to the radio like me. (although I’m guessing you will have got battery chargers etc long ago).

  • Reply lizlovingandlearning March 1, 2014 at 8:20 pm

    I suspect hot water bottles don’t count as ingenious but they are worth every penny. Our boys used to love them too. I’ll try to think of more ingenious things. Well done getting into the race. Go for gold!

  • Reply heathercards March 1, 2014 at 7:26 pm

    Hi Jen, I think first on my list be a wonder bag, not got one myself as we have a slow cooker, but it looks brill
    http://nb-wonderbag.com/Pages/Default

  • Reply manchesterflickchick March 1, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    The bloke bought us both a Snug Rug (blanket with sleeves) and a heated we tied to our chairs and covered with a beautiful Moroccan throw. We put the blankets on a low body heat setting for 1 hour in the morning and 3 hrs max at night. We haven’t needed the central heating on once this Winter.

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