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Residential Life

How to be an energy saver in your halls

By UoLsustainability 11 Jan 2023

Energy saving habits and a cheaper energy bill go hand in hand. Living in halls might mean you don’t think about your energy using habits and you may even believe that you can use as much energy as you want. Financially this is true, increasing your energy consumption won’t lead to an increase in the amount you pay. However, it will increase your carbon footprint and when you move into private accommodation, high energy consumption habits will mean you’ll be paying lot more than you need to for your bills, particularly if the energy crisis continues, which means less money for the things you enjoy doing.

We want to help you to become an energy and money saver. This article will give you an introduction to energy saving tips that apply to your halls and a few tips to keep in mind for when you move out. For those of you who see yourselves as energy savers, read on and see if we’ve shared any tips you haven’t heard of before.

1) Standby mode and vampire power

plug socket

Vampire power is the name for the electricity that flows into your plugged in device when they aren’t being used but are in standby mode. To prevent vampire power, turn your appliances off at the plug.

Some appliances use more vampire power than others. Games consoles are known to be the worse power vampires because their ‘standby’ mode uses energy to detect input from remote controls and voice commands as well as to detect software updates. If you can’t switch your console off at the wall, check the physical or online manual to find out how to activate the device’s ‘energy saving mode’ instead.

Phone and laptop chargers also use energy when left plugged-in particularly when plugged in when the battery is full.

Practical tips:

  • Avoid charging devices at night.
  • If you use an extension cable to charge your phone unplug any devices you aren’t using.
  • Do a sweep of your room when you are leaving to go out and when you are going to bed and turn off appliances at the wall. When you live in private accommodation, extend this to the other rooms in your home.

2) Light bulbs

light bulb

Lighting takes up around 5% of an average home’s total energy bill. Turning your lights off when they aren’t in use saves around £25 per year on annual energy bills. Furthermore, you can reduce the amount of energy a light uses by replacing halogen bulbs with LED bulbs. Also, opt for lower wattage- lower wattage means lower energy bills and less carbon emissions.

Practical tips:

  • Question if you can use natural light from your window instead of turning on your light.
  • Always switch lights off when leaving your room even if you aren’t leaving for long, this habit will mean your lights will always be off when you leave your future flat/house.
  • Replace bulbs that no longer work with low wattage LEDs. 

3) Showering and bathing 

shower

Heating water accounts for around 25% of the energy used in an average home. Four-minute showers could save a typical household £95 a year on their energy bills. When you move out you may have access to a bath (yay, who doesn't love a bath). However, you probably already know, a short shower is more water and energy efficient than a bath. On average, 80 litres of water go into a bathtub whereas a four-minute shower uses 48 litres.

Practical tips:

  • Queue 1-2 songs that total 4-minutes and challenge yourself to be in and out of the shower before the song is over.
  • In the name of selfcare, a bath will be more energy (and water) efficient than a shower that lasts longer than 7 minutes. 

4) Laundry and washing machines

washing machine

Using your washing machine more carefully can save you around £34 a year from your energy bill. How? Use lower temperature cycles, preferably 30 degrees Celsius (or lower). Fill your washing machine with a full load and avoid half loads of washing. Aim to only run your washing machine once per week.

Practical tips:

  • Follow the tips above while you live at halls.
  • When you move out these tips will be very easy to follow if you live alone but if you live with housemates then make sure they know about these tips. If you have a half load that needs washing, ask you housemates if they have anything that needs washing too.
  • Find your washing machine manual to check for cycle temperatures, put a physical copy where everyone can see it.  

5) Kitchen and kitchen appliances 

a kitchen with a kettle and a microwave

Microwaves are generally the most energy efficient appliances in the kitchen. So if you can avoid using an oven, opt for the microwave instead.

Kettles are one of the most used appliances in the kitchen but overfilling a kettle with more water than you are going to use is a waste of electricity. Kettles usually have measurement lines to help you fill with the right amount of water.

Dishwashers are surprisingly energy and water efficient. When you move out you may be lucky enough to live in a flat/house with a dishwasher. Fully loaded dishwashers are more energy efficient than handwashing dishes. Opt for the eco cycle and remember you don’t need to pre-rinse your dishes, scraping them is just fine. If you aren’t lucky enough to have a dishwasher, most people aren’t, you can make handwashing more energy efficient by using a washing up bowl instead of leaving the tap running, and pre-soaking dried-on-bits of food instead of rinsing.

Practical tip:

  • Don’t leave appliances on standby, except for your fridge-freezer- obviously! Get into the habit of turning appliances off at the wall after use. 

We hope you find these tips useful and if you did, please share them with friends and foes. It’s worth mentioning we are by no means the expert. There are some great sources out there such as the energy saving trust and the money saving expert

Any questions or if you want to discuss energy saving further, please contact sustainability@london.ac.uk