Challenging environmentally damaging activities and policies by promoting sustainable alternatives





Start small and make huge savings by learning how to make your home carbon-friendly. In 2005, 27% of UK carbon emissions came from powering our houses. The Energy Saving Trust website has loads of useful tips for cutting your energy use, from not over-filling your kettle to buying a condensing boiler, which could cut your heating bill by 30%. You could also try here


  • To eliminate draughts and wasted heat use an easy-to-fix brush or PVC seal on your exterior doors.
  • Stop draughts and heat escaping through floorboards and skirting boards by filling gaps with newspaper, beading or sealant.
  • Make sure your windows are draught proofed. A low cost, short-term alternative to double-glazing would be to tape polythene across window frames.
  • Heating: Too warm? Turning your thermostat down by 1°C could cut your heating bills by up to 10%. And if you're going away for winter, leave the thermostat on a low setting to provide protection from freezing at minimum cost.
  • Hot water: Of course it should be hot, but it doesn't need to be scalding. For most people, setting the cylinder thermostat at 60°C/140°F is fine for bathing and washing.
  • Plug it: Always put the plug in your basin or sink. Leaving hot water running straight down the drain really is throwing money away.
  • Curtains: close your curtains at dusk to stop heat escaping through the windows.
  • Fridges: Don't leave the door open for longer than necessary, cold air escapes. Avoid putting hot or warm food straight into the fridge by allowing it to cool down first. Defrost your freezer regularly to keep it running efficiently and cheaply. If it tends to frost up quickly, check the door seal. And if you have your fridge next to a cooker or boiler, leave a good gap between them.
  • Washing machines: Always wash a full load and if you can't use a half-load or economy programme. Always use the low temperature programme bearing in mind that modern washing powders will be just as effective at lower temperatures. Wring out or spin-drying really wet clothes before putting them into a tumble dryer will save you money, and they dry faster.
  • Dishwashers: Try and use the low temperature programme, and ensure you wash a full load.
  • Tumble dryers: Electric tumble dryers are commonly the second biggest energy user in the home, after the fridge. They are obviously used a lot less, but still use a huge amount of electricity when switched on. You can avoid using the dryer so often by line drying clothes whenever possible or using an indoor clothes dryer when the weather is bad. If you do need to use the dryer, then ensure the clothes are as dry as possible after washing, eg, they have gone through a fast spin so that there is minimum excess water. This will reduce drying time considerably.
  • Lights: Always turn them off when you leave a room and adjust your curtains or blinds to let in as much light as possible during the day. Low energy lightbulbs may be more expensive to buy than traditional bulbs, but they are worth the investment as last over 10 times longer and use up to 4 times less energy. Where you would use a 100w ordinary bulb, you would only need a 20-25w energy saving bulb. With savings like this, changing bulbs throughout your house could really cut your electricity costs. No matter what type of lighting you are using, always turn the lights off when you leave a room.
  • Solar Garden Lights: There are a number of different solar powered lights available at the moment for use in the garden. These lights are highly energy efficient and convenient as do not require external extension leads or special electric fittings. These lights contain solar cells which convert the sun's energy into electricity. They charge up during the daylight and light up as it gets dark. They are not usually hugely bright but are less intrusive than conventional electric lights and especially suitable for flowerbeds.
  • Televisions, videos, stereos, computers, and cordless phones: To cut down on wasted energy, avoid leaving appliances on standby and remember not to leave them on charge unnecessarily. But please check the user manual first.


    Download this booklet, it's aimed at staff and students of Ohio University and is a bit out of date, but has lots of useful information.


    Running a PC in a business environment over its typical three-year life costs more in electricity than the purchase price. It's worth understanding how to minimise energy use and therefore running costs, even for a home computer, which may be used much less. With a typical home computer using the Microsoft Windows or Vista system, there are several features worth exploring to help conserve energy. The most important thing to understand though is that the typical home computer continues to use power from the mains even when 'turned off' if it is still plugged in to the wall socket. The biggest saving you can make is to always switch the computer off at the wall after you have turned it off using the mouse / keyboard. If you don't, your computer can be consuming electricity day and night, and the costs quickly escalate.

    Tip 1.

    Adjust your power management settings

    By adjusting power management settings in the operating system, you can adapt a computer's power usage to suit your working patterns, at least partially. Studies in Canada revealed that computers are only used for about 12 percent of the time they are running and often remain switched on overnight or during the weekend, even when not in use.

    Set the power options for your computer as follows (Windows):

  • Right click on your desktop, select 'Properties', then 'Screensaver'.

  • Set screensaver to 'Blank' and 'Wait' to 1 minute.

  • Then click 'Power' and set the following options:

    Turn off monitor after 1 min

    Turn off hard disks after 10 mins

    System standby after 5 mins

    Hibernate after 10 mins

  • Then click the 'Hibernate' tag and ensure that hibernate is enabled.

  • Don't forget to click the final OK.

    Tip 2.

    Turn off your screen whenever you leave your desk

    Tip 3.

    When you are leaving the computer for more than a few minutes, go into Hibernate and then switch off at the wall between sessions.

    Only put your computer into Standby mode for very short periods. If you go out to the shops, stop for a meal etc, it's wasteful to leave the computer on Standby. Don't worry that your computer will take too long to start-up if you switch it off, use the Hibernate facility to speed up re-starting. In Hibernate, the computer is completely shut down and, if you also unplug it, drawing no power at all, but can be restarted exactly where you left off, with all previously open programs and documents ready for immediate use.

    You do not need to close down any applications you are working in before you put your computer into Hibernate mode:

  • From the Start menu, take the normal 'Turn off Computer' option

  • On the next screen, hold down the 'Shift' key and press the yellow standby/hibernate button.

  • When the computer has powered down (normally a few seconds), switch off the power on the screen and at the wall on the supply to the computer itself.

    The work you have been doing will be saved on the hard disk and will be available when you start up again.

    If it's difficult to get to the wall socket to switch off the power to the PC, maybe it's worth investing in an extension lead with a power switch that you can position in a more accessible place. This could be used to supply power to the computer, it's monitor and other devices like a printer and scanner. In this way, you can easily switch them all off together.


    If you are using Vista, it's possible that the Hibernate facility has been disabled to conserve disc space. You can re-enable it by following the instructions here, though be warned they do assume a basic knowledge of using the Command Prompt.

    To enable Hiberate in Windows 8:

    1. You'll need to access your system's power settings, which you can do any number of ways. The preferred method is probably: press Win-W (that's the Windows key and the letter w) to bring up the Settings Search menu, then type power.
    2. Click Change what the power buttons do.
    3. Click Change settings that are currently unavailable.
    4. Scroll down to the bottom of that window to find the "Shutdown settings" section.
    5. Click the box next to Hibernate to enable the option.
    6. Click Save changes.

    Now, when you go to power down your system, you'll see the Hibernate option in your list of choices. Also, in the same System Settings window (Step 4), you can choose Hibernate for any of the Power and sleep buttons and lid settings options.

    In other words, if you want your system to hibernate when you press the power button or close the lid, this is where you can configure that setting.

    Steps to add Hibernate option in Windows 10 start menu:

    1. Open the Control Panel and navigate to Hardware and Sound > Power Options.
    2. Click Choose what the power buttons do
    3. Next, click the Change Settings that are currently unavailable link....
    4. Check the Hibernate (Show in Power menu).
    5. Click on Save changes and that's it.

    Tip 4:

    Blackle, don't Google

    Blackle is an energy saving version of Google, go to: Blackle


    If you use a computer at home, it makes a contribution to your carbon (and ecological) footprint. How can you minimise the impact?


    The environmental cost of creating a new PC is quite high. Making your existing one last as long as possible is generally the best policy. But modern PCs can be much more energy efficient and the carbon savings from lower electricity use may quickly offset the impact of materials. Particularly if you can pass the old PC on for re-use or recycling. If you are buying a new PC, a laptop is more energy efficient than a desktop and uses less material in its manufacture, but it may not be as reliable and long-lasting. A flat screen monitor consumes much less power than the older cathode ray tube screens Many PCs now are extremely powerful, consuming as much as 600W. Such power may be required from time to time, for state of the art gaming or computer-aided-design, but for general home and office use these ultra powerful PCs are probably wasteful. PC manufacturers are keen to present their products as 'green' but as usual, some claims are more worthy than others - research their statements carefully. One manufacturer worth considering is Tranquil PC, which makes very low power consumption machines that don't need a ventilation fan.


    A large number of organisations throughout the UK will take computer equipment and re-furbish it where possible for reuse or alternatively recycling components. Find one from Waste Watch's list.

    Or: Use the Donate a PC website to find a charity who will take your old PC.

    Or: Give it a new local home through your local Freecycle network

    Disposal of computers is covered by the WEEE legislation.

    Upgrade only what is needed

    Another common phenomenon is the use of desktops that are far more powerful than necessary to perform typical office applications. Many applications in the office environment would benefit more from additional memory than high-performance processors. In such cases, older machines with more frugal processors could be upgraded and remain in service. After all, the faster the processor, the greater the power dissipation and thus electricity consumption. If you are buying a new PC - check the label.

    If you are going to buy a new PC then think Green and check the labelling to see what standards the PC you want to buy conforms to. The European Commission offers detailed information about the ENERGY STAR eco-label as well as the power consumption of modern office computers here. The website features an energy calculator for PCs, monitors and imaging equipment at companies and public sector operations, as well as for consumers. It enables a detailed comparative calculation to be made of power consumption and overall costs by allowing for numerous factors. These include purchase price, depreciation periods, and everyday usage scenarios, including specifying power requirements and if an uninterruptible power supply is used. Even the air conditioning system's effects on electricity requirements are taken into account.