If you’ve been following my Instagram and YouTube channel, you will have seen that I recently took on a two week “energy fit” challenge. A challenge to reduce the energy waste in my home, using a smart meter. I am super passionate about making small sustainable changes to support our planet (read more about that here), so I was excited to give this eco-friendly challenge a go.
Firstly, What Is A Smart Meter?
Basically, it’s the new generation of gas and electricity meters, replacing traditional meters in homes across Great Britain. They give you accurate information, showing exactly how much energy you’re using in pounds and pence. This means no more estimated bills, you just get charged for what you use – hallelujah! Plus, they are free! You just need to contact your energy supplier and they will come and install one for you.
Anyone can get a smart meter, including if you rent your place. As long as you’re responsible for the bills you can request one from your energy supplier. It can actually make paying bills easier for those who rent and share homes, as it takes the hassle out of meter readings, splitting bills and handling general energy admin. If your landlord pays your bills as part of your rent, you can still get one – you’ll just need to ask them to arrange it for you.
The reason I personally think they’re awesome is because smart meters can help you keep track of your energy use goals and stay motivated to make small sustainable changes; through their immediate visual feedback on the energy you’re using and how much you’re spending. It’s like a fitness tracker, but for your energy! This is why I decided to take a two week challenge, to see what changes I could make in my home to reduce my energy waste.
The Challenge & My Sustainable Swaps
Over the course of two weeks I kept a close eye on my smart meter and tried to make small changes to my daily habits which would reduce my energy waste, saving the planet and also saving me money. It’s a win-win situation!
I actually got really into this challenge, and convinced my boyfriend to get on board. Having the little smart meter device showing us our usage in almost real time was super motivating. It’s all on a little screen you can keep anywhere in your home. We were constantly looking for more little swaps we could make!
Here are some small energy saving switches I made. Some are pretty obvious, others were completely new to me and may be to you too:
> In the bathroom: I stuck to showers for the duration of the challenge, as they use significantly less water and energy than baths. When I was in the shower I was savvy too, switching off the shower when I was washing myself or brushing my teeth instead of leaving it running. I also tried to reduce my overall shower time, even by just a minute.
> In the kitchen: I was careful with my use of kitchen devices. I only boiled the amount of water I needed in the kettle. In the sink I washed my dishes in a bowl, rather than under running water. I washed only full loads of clothing in the washing machine, ensuring they were cleaned at an eco-friendly 30 degrees. Another switch was focusing on using one cooking device instead of lots of different things; I often did one pan meals instead of using the hob and oven at the same time – as the oven is one of the most energy heavy cooking appliances, and I could see the impact on my smart meter display.
> Throughout the house: I switched off all devices when they weren’t in use, instead of leaving them on standby. I also avoided using unnecessary devices; for example I switched my electric oil burner for a candle. I was also aware of the lights throughout the house, ensuring I turned them off when the room wasn’t in use. Instead of always putting on the heating, I would put on an extra layer first. If I did end up putting it on, I set it to one degree lower than usual – every little counts and I genuinely couldn’t feel the difference! I also closed the curtains at night to keep the heat in, and I often let my hair dry naturally rather than using a hair dryer.
What did I learn?
This whole challenge has been a learning curve for me. I didn’t even know smart meters existed, let alone that they were free! Installing one, and seeing my energy use in pounds and pence, inspired me to try and learn little tips and tricks to reduce my energy waste. I was spending a lot of time searching online, trying to find little home hacks we could incorporate!
Over the course of the challenge I realised how many behaviours and habits I have which are detrimental to my energy use, and how easy it is to build up a hefty amount of unnecessary energy waste. Energy has been invisible in the past, so I wasn’t aware of the effects of my seemingly innocent actions, but the smart meter meant I couldn’t avoid it!
I was actually surprised at how easy it was to make small changes in our home. These switches may seem like a lot when you see them all together, but they felt effortless. Plus, when you’re confronted with your energy use on a little screen it’s hard to avoid making changes; it is the ultimate motivation! I also found the smart meter a really good way to get my boyfriend involved in the challenge; he isn’t the most eco-conscious guy but when he could see his energy waste right in front of his eyes he was as keen as me to make energy efficient switches!
Ultimately, I am so grateful that I got to take this challenge as it has inspired me to make lasting sustainable swaps to my lifestyle; which not only benefit me by saving money, but also benefit the planet.
To find out more about smart meters click here. To get one installed in your home, contact your energy provider.
Disclaimer: This blog post is proudly produced in collaboration with Smart Energy GB.