Household win wins: how to save money and reduce your carbon impact
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Since having children I have more appreciation for my time and my time with them. They say time is money, which means money is also time. If I’m saving money, then somewhere along the road I’m hoping I will get that time back too.
Here are some of the changes we made in our house to save money and reduce our carbon impact.
Until about 6 months ago we’ve had quite high energy bills. We’ve always got two or three people at home, cook everything from scratch and have tried to keep the house warm for the wee bairns. That changed when I really focussed on cutting down our bills in the area after being hit by an astronomical additional bill after our last supplier had failed to take any actual meter readings over the course of two years.
- Changing supplier: After joining the MoneySavingEnergy energy club, I saw that I could save significantly by changing to Bulb. They even offered to pay our exit fee. Bulb use 100% renewable energy for their electricity. At first they appealed to me based on their price and the fact that they only have one tariff, removing the hassle of switching each year. Since then some other suppliers have slightly overtaken them on price but I stick with them because of the green credentials, customer service and easy to use app. If you are keen to use them then you (and I) will get £50 off the first bill: www.bulb.me/annef7810
- Turn down the heat: This may be stating the obvious, but I hadn’t realised the difference turning our thermostat down by a few degrees could make. It’s amazing what some cosy socks and jumpers can do.
We save money on food and reduce our carbon impact by cutting out meat, planning our meals, taking packed lunches and shopping from zero waste shops. I go into this (and other ways to save money) in this blog.
The impact of the fashion industry on the environment is well known now. We had a “no buy year” for fashion last year which was easy for us – but trickier with our fast-growing children! In the end we did need to buy clothes for them, even though we were lucky enough to have pass-me-downs from friends, but we bought almost everything from charity shops, which seem to be particularly good for coats, dresses and fancy dress costumes. There are also some online secondhand retailers, like https://www.prelovedbabyboutique.co.uk/ who will also buy your clothes from you and pay cash or offer credit. Gumtree is good for children’s clothes too, especially bundles and an advantage is that you do not need to worry about postage.
Like with clothes, charity shops and Gumtree are great for toys, particularly wooden toys and lego/duplo, which they usually always have available. The nice thing about using Gumtree is that you also get into the mindset of selling things too, which really adds up.
Other household items
Before buying something new, I will think: can I fix something I already have, can I borrow this or can I buy it secondhand? For example, we recently needed a sledgehammer and chisel and instead of buying this new I joined a local tool library and hired it for a week. There are also local “no buy groups” on Facebook, and if there isn’t one near you then you can set one up. Gumtree (again) and Olio also advertise free items. For people living in Edinburgh, this website shows you where to go if you would like to repair, donate or buy (secondhand) a broad range of items.
I’ve simplified my cleaning products to simpler and less toxic products, which also cost less. The main items I clean with are (with links to the ones I use):
- White vinegar (affiliate link) – this needs to be at least 5% acidity to work for cleaning
- Dishwasher liquid
- Bicarbonate of soda (affiliate link)
- Soda crystals (affiliate link)
I also make an all purpose cleaning mixture which I add essential oils to.
I’ve also switched washing powders, as they come in cardboard boxes. I like this one (affiliate link). You can get cheaper alternatives but I find them too strong smelling.
So there are some of the ways we save money and also try to reduce our environmental impact, without missing out on anything that we need. For me it’s been a mindset shift. Once I decided I didn’t want to create waste – or waste money – I became much more creative and able to spot opportunities to find cheaper and more eco-friendly alternatives.
Please share your tips, or any major areas I have left out.