I let an eco warrior loose in my home… and he slashed £700 off my energy bills – including £432 from light bulbs!
- The average household can cut £500 from their bills with energy saving gadgets
- It comes as the Government offers £5,000 to make homes more efficient
- Toby Walne spoke to SaveMoneyCutCarbon’s Mark Sait about how he could cut his own bills. After some upfront expenses he could save £1,132
A voice barks from a phone strapped to my chest, shaming me about the ‘Blackpool illuminations’ shining bright in my kitchen. Yet gazing above my head all I can see are a dozen bulbs simply doing their job lighting the room in the winter gloom.
Mark Sait, chief executive of energy saving firm SaveMoneyCutCarbon, is not impressed as he spies on my every movement – via a hands-free selfie stick strapped to my body and connected to a video app I have downloaded on to my smartphone.
For the record, he is sitting at home 50 miles away in Bury St Edmunds.
He is relentless in his chiding. ‘Those lights were already on when you walked in the kitchen – it reveals a lot about your approach to saving energy.’
Warm glow: Toby Walne uses an app to report his eco credentials
His admonishments are part of a sustainability challenge I have agreed to participate in. It’s designed to find ways to cut my household bills while helping the planet.
According to consumer group Energy Saving Trust, the average household can knock £500 a year off their total electricity, gas and water bills by installing energy-saving gadgets and cutting waste – but Sait thinks I can do even better.
I’m also keenly aware of Boris Johnson’s £12billion ‘green revolution’ to get Britain carbon neutral within three decades. Part of this is centred on a green homes grant scheme offering up to £5,000 for energy saving projects such as cavity wall insulation, double glazing and heat pumps.
The grants are available until the end of March next year. Sait’s off again: ‘Each halogen bulb left on for ten hours a day can add at least £20 a year to your electricity bill. But each replacement LED spotlight might use just £2 of electricity a year.’
Suddenly, this sanctimonious spy has my attention. Even I don’t keep the kitchen lights on ten hours a day – but it could still be at least five hours for my family of four.
And with four dozen such lights around my home, I calculate that we could be frittering away almost £500 a year on lighting when alternatives would cost just a tenth of the price.
I calculate that we could be frittering away almost £500 a year on lighting when alternatives would cost just a tenth of the price.
But hang on, I say, don’t these eco-friendly replacement lights cost a small fortune and have a cold anaemic glow that is better suited to a mausoleum?
Sait has an answer for everything. ‘Forget those old curly swirly eco bulbs,’ he retorts. ‘Technology has come on in leaps and bounds. You can buy warm LED spotlights from just £2.’
These bulbs are just the start. Stretch the budget to £8 a bulb and I can get trendy vintage-look lighting that dims.
The kitchen tap then catches Sait’s eagle eye. He asks me to turn on the water for five seconds and fill a plastic bag he has sent to me.
With the bag half-full, he calculates that if this water had gone straight done the plughole, I would have wasted it at the rate of 14 litres a minute. Using a £5 tap aerator, he says, would halve this waste.
Aerators would also help conserve water from the two showers in my house, though he recommends the purchase of ‘luxury’ versions costing £100 each. ‘The problem with cheap aerating shower heads is that they can look rubbish,’ he says. ‘More expensive ones feel good on your skin. It’s like being in a hotel spa.’
Mr Sait isn’t finished. I turn the selfie-stick in the direction of my electricity-powered Aga cooker – the height of decadent waste that sends my energy meter spinning. I also point it towards my ozone destroying wood burner in the living room.
Secretly, I am hoping he will blow his top. But Sait disarms me with his response. ‘Just getting new ecofriendly lights would make a great start,’ he says.
‘It’s the start that counts and you can then build on it, slowly introducing more and more eco-friendly ideas.’
He even approves of how I only burn foraged wood – but he gently suggests that £9 ‘natural sustainable firelighters’ would work wonders with my birch bark kindling. This option does away with the unnecessary plastic packaging wrapped around the firelighters I buy.
His gimlet eye then clocks the radiators. I thought I was already being a goody two shoes by having thermostats on each radiator to control the heat. But Sait explains that a £50 ‘robo-valve’ would stop further waste as it knows when a room is not being used and can turn off the heat. This could cut 30 per cent off my heating bill.
Thankfully, it is easy to fit and not linked to a fancy ‘smart’ control or phone app that might go wrong. Further ideas are suggested. They include an £8.50 pink ‘laundry egg’ – to do away with fabric conditioners – and a £10 ‘egg dryer’ that helps air circulate in my tumble drier and can cut energy use.
Kitchen rolls, dish clothes and loo rolls can be replaced with cheaper eco-friendly alternatives made from ‘recycled’ mashed bamboo.
Mark Sait is not just an eco-warrior. He is also a businessman and via SaveMoneyCutCarbon sells homeowners ‘green’ alternatives at half price – everything from bulbs to loo rolls, to fancy taps that gush boiled water, electric vehicle chargers and e-scooters. To take advantage, customers must join the ‘home club’ that costs £4.99 a month.
The hour-long video tour around my four-bedroom home is over. Fighting my natural instinct to baulk at his do-gooder advice, my eco-guide has won me over with his hard-nosed savings figures.
Inspired by this lightbulb moment, I set to work – getting out the stepladder to start replacing my expensive old halogen lamps with state-of-the-art LED spotlights.
Details of the green homes grant and other ‘greening’ ideas are available at energysavingtrust.org.uk.
THIS IS MONEY PODCAST