It ain’t half hot mum…

Hot water.
Isn’t it awesome? And how lucky are we to have it on tap?
But it comes at a price. Both in terms of energy and cold hard cash.
So today for the Great Energy Race, I am looking at how can we use less of it, without feeling the chill…?

Hot Water Generation and Storage

  • Most hot water heating systems rely on some kind of tank to store the hot water in. Make sure yours is nice and cosy and has it’s very own coat to stop the heat leaking out
Doesn't that look cosy?!

Doesn’t that look cosy?!

  • As well as insulating your tank, don’t forget the pipes!

    Hubby has been busy lining our pipes...

    Hubby has been busy lining our pipes…

  • I get a bit lost (bored) by the science right about now, but I think I am right in saying that using your immersion heater, is one of the most energy inefficient ways to heat your water. So if you can, set a timer to heat up your water when you think you will need it
  • Solar thermal-if you have the space on your roof and the money in your bank, then have a think about solar thermal-in very basic terms-a small panel on your roof, that allows the energy from that big yellow ball in the sky, to provide you with free hot water!
  • If you already have solar panels, then have a look at a handy thing called a Solar i-boost. Hubby has been looking at this for our panels. My understanding (and interest) is limited, but basically, I think you can divert any ‘spare’ energy from your solar panels to your hot water system, so that it can heat up your water, thereby saving you using gas

Washing the dishes

  • This is a subject of some debate, but the consensus seems to be, that dishwashers use less water than washing the same amount of dirty dishes by hand, so if you have one, use it! But only when it’s full, and on the ‘eco’ setting if you have one
  • If you are dishwasher-less, and washing by hand, fill the bowl, and don’t leave the hot water tap running (I know, who does that?!)

Washing the clothes

  • I think I am right in saying that in the “old days”, washing machines used to draw their hot water from the hot tank, but more modern machines heat up the water they need, which is much more efficient. So if yours is still an old-skool model, think about upgrading it (I still struggle hugely with this-is it better to carry on with an older less efficient version, or ditch it and get a brand spanking new shiny ‘A’ rated model…???)
  • Fill it up and only turn it on when full
  • Wash clothes at 30-bit of a no brainer-washing at lower temperatures uses less hot water…!!

Washing the people

  • Shower not bath-again, I think this is open to debate, but a FULL bath, certainly uses more water than a SHORT shower. But I guess the key is in the words in caps. If you just have a teeny tiny bath, or you share your bath water (!) then you might well be using less water than if you had a prolonged shower
  • If you do bath, then you how about one of these latest energy saving fashion accessories for your bath? A foil jacket! I agree, they look a bit special, but apparently they can save up to a 1/3 of the energy and prevents you needing to top up the bath with more hot water!
    Screen Shot 2014-03-30 at 13.00.24
  • If you shower, then you have several options:
    -There are a multitude of different shower timing devices out there that are all designed to gently encourage you to take shorter showers. There is a review of one of them-the Water Pebble, in the Guardian here
    -An eco shower head-some aerate the water, so you use less of it, and others ‘pulse’ the water. The general gist is that you use less water, without noticing. We thought we would try one of these out, so stay tuned for another ground breaking Science Hour tomorrow….!

Any other handy hints and tips to share?


18 thoughts on “It ain’t half hot mum…

  1. Hi Jen, one thing that always puzzles me in the dishwasher thing is, yes you might use less water, something I find hard to believe actually, but you do use a load of electricity to run it. Yesterday in the time it would have taken to load/ unload I had done all the dinner washing up in a bowl! A bit of elbow grease was surely more energy efficient than at least and hour and a half in the dishwasher! Can anyone answer this puzzle?

    • I agree – I think it’s what people with dishwashers tell us to justify their using them!!! Plus there’s lots of things you can’t put in a dishwasher, especially plastic (the heat leaches BPA from polycarbonate plastic and other plastics melt) and they don’t do a good job of pans so they always need washing separately. I don’t find eco tablets work very well, but those Finish tablets have HAZARD written all over them – do we really want to be cleaning our crockery with hazardous chemicals?

      Plus there’s the energy to mine the metals (isn’t mining quite water intensive?) for the parts to make dishwashers, transport them, and afterwards we need to dispose of them – more energy, landfill costs, and potential chemicals leaching into groundwater.

      To me, the ‘dishwashers-are-better’ argument doesn’t stack up.

      I will be sticking to my Ecover dishwashing liquid and my sink! : )

  2. Dishwashers only cost me a few pence every couple of days
    to do an economy load. After years of always getting lumbered with the washing up a dishwasher saved arguments and keeps the kitchen tidy.

    • That’s interesting re the cost Kate. Keep meaning to plug my monitor into the dishwasher, but the plug is very hard to reach!

  3. Re. Washing ourselves, people underestimate how effective an old fashioned at the sink strip wash is. We really don’t need to shower or bathe every day. After all water running off the body is not the same as a good scrub! In the shower turn off the water when lathering up body or hair with soap. And a loud timer set to 4 mins is the way we curb shower time 😉

    • Strip washes are the way forwards Meg! Why have we forgotten about these? Good point re the timer-not really a need for lots of techno gadgets when a good old kitchen timer will do the same job!

  4. If I had to choose only two appliances that I could keep in my house, and I had to get rid of everything else, it would be the dishwasher and the washing machine that I chose to keep. With a household full of various abilities and disabilities, and having experienced life minus these two items, I cannot express how much they mean to me!

    For saving water we have plastic bottles filled with water placed inside the cisterns to make the flush use less water, as well as the dual flush function, but we also have the rule of ‘only flush for number two’. Unfortunately, having a son with autism who thinks that having a shower takes an hour (one day he will prove the existence of alternate universes – I’m sure he lives in one where time proceeds at half the pace) we’re probably not doing as well as we could. I have explained it to him. One day I hope he will ‘get’ it o_O

    • I have a friend with a son who does the same thing. We have trialled an Eco shower head to see if it lives up to it’s claims of a 50% water reduction-stay tuned for the results! Can you try setting him a timer for say 55mins and then gradually reducing it?

      • If only timers would work. It’s a processing disorder – he just can’t seem to manage more than one thing at a time and that only very slowly. The more we try to tell him, the less he actually accomplishes and- timers do the same thing – he ends up obsessing about the timer rather than getting on with whatever it is. Never mind! We try and who knows? One day something might click 🙂

  5. Reblogged this on multicolouredsmartypants and commented:
    I was going to write a climate change blog post myself after yesterday’s IPCC report was released, but I was too angry. No good sounding preachy or self-righteous, is it? Also I have to admit that until just over a year ago I was just as ignorant and thought that environmentalists were a bit soft in the head or overreacting. Now I wonder why we are sleepwalking into catastrophe.

    I am thinking of taking on the challenge of a ‘make do and mend year’.

    • Yay! Do it. Would totally recommend it. It might not save the world, but it will change your life, and is very achievable. It is also hugely empowering to feel that as an individual you are taking action.

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