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Your home and global warming

Almost half of the UK’s harmful greenhouse gases come from things we do every day. Surprisingly, we produce more of it in our homes than when we drive!

As well as reducing carbon emissions and helping the planet, it is estimated that the average household could save up to £300 per year on energy bills by being more energy efficient.

All of the tips in this guide cost a small amount or nothing at all and, as energy prices are rising all the time, there’s even more money to be saved!

Run your home for less

A few simple steps could help you run your home for less as well as producing fewer harmful CO2 emissions. More than half of the energy we use at home is used for heating and hot water.

What can I do?
  • Turn your room thermostat down by just 1°C. This could cut your heating bill by 10%, which is an average saving of £75 per year.
  • Close your curtains at night and make sure they are tucked behind the radiators to reduce the amount of heat escaping through your windows.
  • 15% of heat loss occurs through draughts. Draught proof your window frames, doors, keyholes and letterboxes.
  • Set heating controls so that your property is only heated when you are in the house.
  • If you have adjustable radiator valves, turn radiators down to their lowest setting in unused rooms, but not off.
  • Bleed radiators regularly to ensure they are working at maximum efficiency.
  • Drying clothes on radiators blocks heat from warming the room and causes condensation. Dry on a clothes horse instead.
  • Turn the pressure down on the power shower. A high pressure power shower is a great luxury to have but you’d be surprised how much water they use – sometimes even more than a bath.
Can I turn the gas flow down in my boiler?

The gas that is supplied to our homes in the UK is delivered at a fixed pressure. All gas appliances sold in the UK are designed to operate at this pressure so flow or pressure can’t be reduced. Attempting to do so can create serious problems such as the increased production of Carbon Monoxide, a toxic gas that is produced by poor combustion.

If you have gas in your home we will send a Gas Safe Registered engineer every year to check appliances are working safely and efficiently.

What is a thermostat and can I turn it down?

Wall thermostats are probably the most common in the UK and monitor the air temperature in the room where they are fitted. They tell the boiler whether to come on or not depending on the temperature you’ve asked for and the current air temperature.

Wireless thermostats operate via radio frequency making them wireless and can be moved around the property. You must be careful where these types of thermostats are placed. If they are kept in cool or draughty places they will keep your boiler running for longer which uses more gas than is required and therefore costs you more. If you keep it somewhere it can be heated by other means, like direct sunlight or near a fire, it will prevent your boiler from firing up as it will think your house is already warm.

In order for thermostats to operate efficiently they should always be free from things like dust or paint and should never be covered up.

Can I adjust my boiler thermostat(s)?

Even if your home does not have a wall mounted thermostat it will have a thermostat on the boiler. This can also be turned down to help reduced the amount of gas you’re using. Try turning this down as low as possible but high enough that you still get a comfortable heating level. This can involve a bit of trial and error but it is worth the effort.

If your boiler is a combi boiler, it may have two thermostats on it. One is for central heating (it will have a radiator symbol) and the other for hot water (with a tap symbol.)

Turning down your thermostat simply means that your boiler won’t run for as long. This of course will give you less heat so you need to make sure you have enough heat without overheating your property.

How can I save on hot water?

There are two main types of hot water in our homes; stored or instantaneous.

If you have a hot water cylinder (tank) somewhere in your home then you have stored hot water. These will have a thermostat to regulate how hot it gets and this will be set to make sure the water is warm enough but not too hot to waste energy.

These tanks are insulated in order to hold heat for as long as possible. You must ensure the insulation or ‘lagging’ is securely on so it won’t lose heat and cost your more.

If you have a hot water cylinder and you think your thermostat on it could be faulty you should report this rather than attempting to adjust it yourself.

If you don’t have stored hot water you’ll likely have a combi boiler. These deliver instant hot water by firing up when you’ve opened a hot water tap.  A lot of energy (gas) is required to heat water instantly. This is increased in winter months when the water coming in to your home is colder than usual. You can help this process by not always running your hot taps on full so the water spends more time inside the boiler and burns less gas.

Can I choose which rooms to heat?

If you have thermostatic radiator valves, you’ll be able to control your heating, room by room. They’ll enable you to turn down the heat in rooms you’re not using, minimising the amount of heat and energy you’re using to keep warm, therefore saving you money.

Other tips and hints on saving energy are available in  our handy energy advice guide here>>.
Electricity and lighting

Our homes contain an increasing number of appliances and gadgets, all of which consume electricity – increasing our bills and emissions. Much of this usage is unnecessary and with efficient purchase, use and maintenance we can reduce our bills with minimal effort.

What can I do?
  • Check you are with the cheapest supplier. Visit the Uswitch website
  • Switching from a 60W bulb to an energy efficient 20W bulb will save you £5-£10 a year on your electricity bill per bulb.
    Energy efficient bulbs last 10 times longer than regular bulbs, which will save you even more money – and they can be
    recycled making them even more environmentally friendly!
  • In the UK we waste £140 million a year by leaving lights on unnecessarily. Remember to turn the lights off when you leave a room; no matter what the kind of bulb you have, this can save you £7.50 a year.
  • The average household wastes £37 a year by leaving appliances on standby. This amounts to almost a billion pounds in total in the UK. Turn things off at the mains when not in use or fully charged, especially overnight.
  • Make sure pans are on the right size hob or you could waste up to 40% of the heat, and keep lids on to decrease cooking time and reduce condensation.
  • Most people overfill the kettle. Boiling the right amount is one of the easiest ways to cut your energy usage and you could save as much as £25 per year
  • Laptop computers use 5 -10 times less energy than desktops.
  • Look for appliances with the highest efficiency rating A++ and the energy saving recommended logo. The EU energy label rates products from A++ (the most efficient) to G (the least efficient) and by law the label must be shown
    on all refrigeration and laundry appliances and dishwashers. An A rated washing machine will use less than seven pence worth of electricity per cycle and save on the amount of water used.
  • Limit washing machine cycles to full loads, this is much more efficient than doing two half loads, even when using
    half load settings.
  • The dryer is one of the most energy intensive appliances in the home. If you must use it, spin or dry clothes as much as you can beforehand so you use it less.
  • Defrost freezers regularly and keep them full. If your freezer is not full, then putting newspaper or carrier bags in the gaps saves money by reducing the air space.
  • Keep your fridge/freezer at the correct temperature. This is 2°C to 3°C for a fridge and -15°C for a freezer

The average person uses 150 litres of water per day for hygiene, drinking, washing and flushing.

The energy used in transporting and treating water is energy intensive and generates significant carbon emissions.

Climate change leaves the UK at an increased risk of droughts and water shortages so it is important that we are not wasteful with this vital resource.

What can I do?
  • If you have a water cylinder you should turn it to 60°C. This is hot enough to kill any harmful bacteria and heat your water sufficiently. If the temperature is any higher it is a waste of energy and there is an increased risk of scalding.
  • Avoid letting taps run when brushing your teeth or shaving. 10 minutes of running water a day would waste 22,000 litres per year at a cost of £30.
  • A dripping tap can waste 140 litres a week – almost enough to fill two baths. Get leaks fixed; report them
    to our Jigsaw Connect team on 0300 111 1133.
  • Washing the car with a hose can use 15 times as much water as using a bucket.
  • Short showers use much less water than baths.
  • Bottled water has a carbon footprint 1,000 times higher than tap water.
  • Let the dishwasher do the dirty work. Avoid pre-rinsing the dishes in hot water. Save water and energy by just
    scraping the dishes before they go in.

Transport is the biggest source of personal emissions for many people, especially if you drive, or fly regularly. Your driving style can have a big impact on fuel consumption and therefore what you spend on fuel.

What can I do?
  • Driving at 50mph uses 30% less fuel than at 70 mph.
  • It is thought that the average driver could save approximately 10% on fuel by driving more efficiently. You can do this by accelerating gently, driving more smoothly and changing into the highest appropriate gear as soon as you can. For maximum efficiency this is when the engine is revving at around 2,000 rpm in a diesel car or around 2,500 rpm in a petrol car.
  • Removing excess weight if not needed e.g. a roof rack will reduce your fuel consumption.
  • Make sure your tyres are inflated to the right pressure and balanced; this will save fuel and reduce wear and tear.
  • Car sharing is an easy way of reducing your emissions and fuel costs. You can find car buddies using
  • Cycle! Cycling for 30 minutes a day can increase your life span by four years.
Re-use and recycle

Recycling reduces the Carbon footprint of your waste and promotes wider environmental benefits. Every year in the UK, we send around 23 million tonnes of household waste to landfill, 60% of which could be recycled.

Landfills are particularly bad sources of greenhouse emissions because waste is buried, which causes it to break down and release methane, which is 33 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

In addition to what you might typically expect to be recycled e.g. paper, glass and aluminium, lots of other unwanted items can also be recycled from fridges to furniture.

What can I do?
  • The average person receives 19kg of junk mail a year. To opt out of unsolicited direct mailing lists, register with the Mailing Preference Service at, or by phone on 0845 703 4599, or write to them at MPS, Freepost, London, W1E 0ZT
  • Recycling has never been easier. Recycle at home using your recycling bins or communal facilities.
  • Donate unwanted clothes to friends, family or charity if they are in reasonable condition.
  • Short showers use much less water than baths.

The charities below have a collection service and will collect items like furniture, some electrical appliances, clothes and toys free of charge.


Age UK
0800 169 6565
British Heart Foundation
0844 412 5000

Furniture Donation Network



2nd Generation Furnishings
The Tom Daly Centre, Stamford Street,
Stalybridge, SK15 1QU


Don’t Dump Donate
Unit 14, Pennant St Industrial Estate,
Oldham, OL1 3NP
Warm Homes Hub
0115 985 3000


The Mustard Tree
0161 2287331

Tree of Life


Wigan and Leigh Hospice
01942 525566


Help the Homeless (Help refurbish)




St John’s Hospice

Donate them on websites such as or sell them using an auction website such as If items no longer work or are in poor condition you can take them to a local Household Waste Recycling
Centre. You can find your nearest recycling centre by visiting your local council’s website.

Please contact your local council for more information on waste, refuse and recycling. They will be able to tell you:
• when your bin collections are
• what you can recycle.

If you would like more advice on how to run your home more efficiently or are concerned about your utility bills please contact The Neighbourhood Engagement Team for a free energy advice appointment. If you have any general money concerns then our money advice team may be able to help and can be contacted on 0300 111 1133.

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