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How to cut down your energy bills and reduce your environmental impact in the garden

 

  • Putting outdoor lights on a timer in the lighter evenings could save £63 on your yearly energy bills
  • Swapping to solar-powered water features, ditching the pressure washer, and avoiding garden fires are easy ways you can make your garden greener

With much of the UK forced to stay at home during the coronavirus lockdown, data experts behind the home energy-saving assistant Loop have shared seven simple steps to help reduce home energy bills and lower your impact on the environment by changing your garden habits.

Steve Buckley, Head of Data Science at Loop said: “As we enter the sixth week of the coronavirus lockdown, Brits will be looking for ways to make sure they keep their household running costs low wherever they can, as they spend more time at home and energy bills start to creep up.”

“Looking for quick wins in the house is a great place to start, but creating an energy-efficient home isn’t just about what’s on the inside. As the weather gets warmer, now could be the perfect time to transform your garden into an energy-saving haven, especially as people are spending more time in the safety of their own garden during lockdown.”

Here, data experts at Loop share their tips on how to reduce your home energy usage in the garden, and save money on your household bills at the same time:

1. Get the right garden lights

“With warmer weather and longer days ahead, it’s important you take the time to change any garden lights that run on timers. Make sure you switch off those you don’t need to keep on before you go to bed too, as two outdoor 60W lights left of overnight could add up to £63 to your yearly bill[1].”

“Better still, use solar lighting as much as possible in your garden. As well as being the most environmentally-friendly option, it’s also cheap, safe and emits a dim glow which is less likely to disrupt wildlife than brighter lights.

“If you need security lighting, you can get great wire-free, motion-activated solar security models that work all year long, even in the winter when there is less sunlight. For wired lights, opt for those with motion sensors to avoid wasting electricity by keeping them on permanently overnight. It’s also vital to check they’re working properly – oversensitive halogen security lights could mean an extra £25 on your bill every year[2].”

2. Beware of the pressure washer…or at least be aware of the pressure washer

“Some people are finding themselves with more time to complete jobs around the house and garden, such as pressuring washing driveways and patios, cleaning cars and the outside of your house. But make sure you’re only reaching for high-powered appliances when you need to.

Pressure washers are generally rated between 1.5 and 3kW meaning every hour’s use could cost up to 55p[3]. They can also get through a lot of water, with the most powerful models using more than 500 litres an hour – another additional cost worth considering if you’re on a water meter.

These aren’t high costs in isolation and many will feel it’s a price worth paying, given the alternative can involve a lot of elbow grease, but there are jobs that can be done without them, like washing the car with a bucket and a sponge.  If you like to keep your car clean using a pressure washer, it might be costing you more than you think.

The same goes for other garden tools like strimmers, hedge cutters and even chainsaws – sometimes it will be just as easy to use an old-fashioned set of secateurs, branch loppers or a saw instead, and you’ll avoid annoying your neighbours on a sunny day with noisy power tools!

3. Create a windbreak

“If your home is exposed to strong winds, then you could be losing warmth and face higher bills as a result. But the right landscaping or windbreaks can lower the wind chill near your home and reduce heating costs considerably.

“You can create a windbreak with a hedge, fence, or a single or double row of trees. Along with helping to keep your heating bills in check, a windbreak could also help provide shelter for any wildlife and insects making homes in your garden”.

If that isn’t practical, ensuring you’ve draft-proofed your house properly is a good place to start.

4. Heat your greenhouse efficiently 

“If you’re a keen gardener and reach for a heater to protect your plants in the greenhouse, this could be adding unwanted pounds to your energy bills. If left on for 8 hours a day during the colder months, a 120w greenhouse heater could add more than £30 to your annual bill[4]”.

“Using a heater with a thermostat is a must, but if yours doesn’t have one make sure you remember to turn it off when the weather warms up or use a timer instead. You can also take steps to keep your greenhouse as energy efficient as possible to avoid needing the heater much in the first place, which will help you save money and reduce your impact on the environment.”

“Make sure you’ve sealed up any cracks and repaired broken glass to stop heat escaping, and adding a layer of bubble wrap to insulate your greenhouse (leaving space for light to get in) can also help to keep warmth in.”

5. Use solar-powered water features

“If you’re looking to spruce up your garden with some new additions such as a water feature, investing in a solar-powered model is the best option for limiting your impact on the environment, as well as your energy bills. Make sure you chose the sunniest spot of your garden to avoid the need for mains electricity.”

6. Be water smart

“While you’re on an energy-saving mission, why not make an effort to cut back on your water use too? Fitting a water butt to catch and store rainwater is a great way to limit your impact on the environment in the summer months, and swapping your hose for a watering can help you keep your use in check and reduce your bills.”

7. Forgo the firepit

Although it can be tempting to light a fire in your garden to enjoy the long summer evenings, reaching for a few extra layers is the most eco-friendly way to keep warm outdoors. Garden fires and firepits release unnecessary emissions into the atmosphere, so avoiding them is an easy way to limit your impact on the environment.

 

[1] Data from Loop.

[2] Data from Loop.

[3] 3kW appliance running for 1 hour = 3 kWh @ 18.54p/kWh (UK average December 2019 tariff)

[4] 120w heater running for 8 hours per day = 960Wh @ 18.54p/KwH (UK average December 2019 tariff) = 18p per day x 182.5 days (half the year) = £32.85