We save because the future is unpredictable and we can’t plan meticulously in advance for all eventualities. We need an emergency fund for things such as roof repairs, domestic appliance breakdowns or unexpected emergencies. Retirement, increasing life expectancy and volatile social security are other factors to consider.
A good place to start thinking about making savings is in the home, and this needn’t involve the more obvious measures of downsizing or renting out a room. Going green, for example, will immediately impact one’s finances in areas such as energy bills, quite apart from helping the hard-pressed planet to have a future our children can also enjoy.
Simple things, such as setting the thermostat a bit lower in winter and a bit higher in summer, will have a significant effect on energy bills. Install solid shutters and these will not only brighten the room but also promote natural heat retention in summer and help insulate the rooms in winter.
Fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) are much more energy efficient; replace regular bulbs with these when they die.
Always unplug appliances when they’re not in use. However, “phantom” or “vampire” energy will still trickle out and this can be prevented by fitting “smart” power units that will automatically sense when an appliance has been switched off and cut the connection altogether.
Up to 80 per cent of the energy used in a wash cycle is used in heating the water, so wherever possible, clothes should be washed in cold water. Also, hang clothes out to dry rather than use a tumble dryer.
Shorter showers will lower heating and water bills, and installing a low-flow showerhead will further reduce costs.
All taps should have an aerator fitted. These are cheap to buy and install, and they’ll help conserve water and heat whilst maintaining pressure.
Use a water filter
Many people opt for bottled water because they see it as environmentally friendly and are attracted by the flamboyantly “green” advertising. However, bottled water is relatively expensive and contributes substantially to container waste. Use a water filter to process tap water instead.
Use green cleaning products
Regular commercial cleaning products are a cocktail of toxic chemicals, which leave a poisonous veneer on the surfaces you use them on in the home. They’re also bad for the environment. Far better and cheaper are natural cleaning products. These can be found in most household cupboards and include the likes of baking soda, vinegar, soap flakes and lemon.
Resist the temptation to upgrade gadgets for the sake of it. Computers, mobile phones and other electronic products should be used for as long as possible, and when they eventually die they can be donated or recycled. This will save cash, help the environment and get one over on the relentless advertising machine.
It is possible to make significant savings by implementing a few domestic green agendas in the home. Feel better in the knowledge that it’s helping the planet, and if there are kids around, this will be a vital part of their education for the future.