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The UK General Election is on 4 July.
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Find out more about voting and elections in Southwark

Save money and reduce your carbon footprint 

The cost of living is rising and we’re facing a climate crisis. Here are some tips to help you keep a bit more money in your pocket, by cutting energy and food waste.

These tips help reduce your carbon footprint, which is good for the environment.

Try these tips

Tips for saving money when using your heating

Tips for saving money on travel                                                  

Tips for saving money with food and shopping

Tips for saving money on DIY and household items

Tips for saving money with your household appliances

Saving money when using your heating

Draught-proof your home the easy way

Draught-proofing is an easy way to cut your energy use, by stopping cold air coming in under your door or around your windows. Reducing draughts means that your heating system won’t have to work as hard to reach your desired temperatures, and so will help your energy bills.

An old pillowcase or pair of tights filled with stuffing, and placed in a draughty door or window gaps could be enough to stop that draught and save you money. You can buy specially made draught excluders or you can make your own.

Turn down the flow-temperature on your combi-boiler

Radiator-flow temperature is the temperature of the water that your boiler sends through to your radiators. This is different from your hot water temperature. If you have a combi-boiler, you can reduce the flow temperature down to 60 degrees Celsius and save up to £65 on your gas bill.

Follow this easy step-by-step guide to find out how to change the flow-temperature on your combi-boiler

Install foil behind your radiators

If you have a radiator against an external wall, you will be losing heat from one side of the radiator through the wall. By installing a strip of radiator foil behind the radiator, you can reflect heat into the room, and prevent it from being wasted.

Installing radiator foils is easy, whatever your DIY skills. You can buy specially designed sheets from your local hardware store, but if you are on a tight budget, you can even use standard tin foil – although this will not work quite as well. Watch this video walkthrough to install radiator foil and save energy.

Use your radiator’s thermostat to control the heat in different rooms

Most radiators have simple thermostats on them that you can use to control the temperature of individual radiators. This will be a small knob on the side of the radiator with some numbers on it, usually with a scale from 0 to 6, where zero (0) is off and six (6) is fully open. Try aiming for the lowest temperature that keeps the room comfortable in each room. 

You can also use this to control the temperature of different rooms, so you can save energy being wasted in a room that you don’t use, or that you'd like to be cooler (such as your bedroom). You can watch this short guide to using your room and radiator thermostats efficiently

Myth-buster: don’t leave your heating on low all day when you are out

This will waste energy when you don’t need it. If you want the house to be warm for when you return home from work, use a timer to set the heating to come on about 30 minutes before you arrive home. You can read more about how to get the most out of your heating controls.

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Saving money on travel

Leave your car at home – walk or cycle instead

Cars can be expensive, even after we’ve purchased or leased them. An easy way to save money on fuel and parking costs is to choose to walk or cycle for your local journeys.

Better yet, it will help to keep you fit and healthy.

You can find information to help you cycle in Southwark, such as cycle route maps, cycle skill courses, and guided rides.

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Saving money with food and shopping

Food waste is responsible for around 10% of global greenhouse emissions. If it was a country, it would be the third biggest producer of greenhouse gas emissions in the world after China and the USA. In London, 70% of this food waste happens in our homes.

Microwave more meals

If you have a microwave, try swapping the oven for the microwave occasionally.

A microwave uses significantly less energy than either a gas or electric oven, so you will be saving on your energy bills.

You might be surprised what you can make using the microwave, like this speedy vegetarian chilli recipe.

Stick to your shopping list

Use your shopping list to make sure you buy just what you need and avoid wasting food.

According to Love Food Hate Waste, the average family wastes hundreds of pounds a year in food it throws away. You can try adopting simple food habits to remove a lot of the stress around food, and save you time and money.

Store food smartly

Store your food smartly to make it last longer and avoid needing to throw it away (and buy more). Keeping your apples in the fridge could mean giving them an extra month!

There is simple advice for nearly every type of food, to tell you if it is suitable for home freezing and how long it will last in the fridge.

Make better use of your leftovers

You might be surprised by the tasty meals you can make with your leftover vegetables.

There are lots of fantastic ideas on the Love Food Hate Waste website for recipes you can make with your leftovers, like this easy leftover curry.

Receive food for free from neighbours or give your unwanted food away with Olio

Most of the food that we waste in London is edible, yet less than 1% of this edible food is shared or re-used. Olio is a free phone application, which lets you enjoy free good food from your neighbours that would otherwise go to waste. You can download the Olio app to your phone.

Buy delicious store restaurant food for a fraction of the price and stop it going to waste with Too Good To Go

Local shops, cafes and restaurants often have lots of food that is going to waste at the end of the day. Too Good To Go allows you to purchase this leftover food from shops, cafes and restaurants for a fraction of the normal price. You can download the Too Good To Go app to your phone

Donate, share or enjoy food from your nearest community fridge

Community Fridges are a place for neighbours and local food businesses to come together to stop good, fresh food from going to waste.

Anyone can give. Anyone can take. We have five fridges running in different community spaces in Southwark, with more on their way.

If you're struggling to afford food, you can get help to access food.

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Save money on DIY and household items

Southwark Library of Things 

The Library of Things at Canada Water Library helps you save money and reduce waste by affordably renting out useful things like drills, sound systems and sewing machines at low cost. 

Join the Canada Water Library of Things

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Saving money with your household appliances

Switch lights and devices off when you don’t need them on

Devices left in standby mode still use electricity. You can also save energy by switching the lights off every time you leave a room.

The Energy Saving Trust estimates turning off your lights and devices could save you £85 a year.

You can find out which of your home appliances waste the most energy.

Swap the bath for a shower

A standard shower uses a lot less water than a hot bath. So if you normally go for a long soak in the tub, try swapping for a shower to save you money.

You can get more top tips to save money in the bathroom, including some money savings.

Only use your washing machine and dishwasher when they are full

Every time you use your washing machine and dishwasher they use water and electricity. A simple way to save money is by always making sure they are full when you use them. Try to use the most efficient settings available to reduce the cost of running them.

See which appliances in your home use the most energy to run.

Wash your clothes at 30 degrees

Most modern washing detergent works just as well at lower temperatures, so try washing your clothes at 30 degrees rather than higher temperatures like 40 degrees or 60 degrees. You might even be able to wash as low as 20 degrees if your clothes are not stained.

Find out which temperature to wash at, and what happens to your clothes, and bills, when you change.

Buy some water saving gadgets to save water and energy

There are small and relatively cheap gadgets that you can buy to reduce the amount of water you use in your bathroom and kitchen, such as eco-shower heads and tap aerators.

Read advice on what gadgets would work best for your bathroom and find out where to buy them.

Switch to LED lighting

On average, lighting your home makes up 11% of your electricity consumption, so you can save money by replacing your lightbulbs with energy efficient LED bulbs. Energy efficient lighting helps lower bills, without reducing the quality of light in your home.

Read more about what lighting solutions are best for your home.

Did you know?

If you have a gas-heated house, based on typical usage, about 12% of your energy bill is from heating the water for showers, baths and hot water from the tap.

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Get more tips by email: join our mailing list

Get more tips to help you save money and reduce your carbon footprint. Sign up to our mailing list

Share your tips with us

What else do you do to save money and energy at home? Send your tips to us so we can share the knowledge and help all of us keep our bills down or share on social media with the hashtag #Southwarkgreensavers

Try more things to help the planet

If you want to do more to cut your carbon footprint, then there is a lot you can do, from eating veggie to flying less. You can also sign up to our climate newsletter and get involved.

These changes could help save some money, but if you or someone you're supporting is struggling financially, there may be financial and wellbeing support available for you to access
If you're facing an emergency and unable to meet your most essential short-term needs,  get one-off help through Southwark Council’s Emergency Support Scheme (SESS)


Page last updated: 15 January 2024


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