Energy challenge: Confessions of an energy waster

During the first week of my challenge to save energy, I’ve criticised the government and energy companies for their failings. But she who is without sin cast the first stone, and frankly, I’m no angel either. So I thought I’d do the walk of shame today and confess the ways DJ and I have been known to waste precious gas and electricity:

1. Putting the central heating on when we don’t need to – that terrible urge you get to put it on when you’re feeling just a little bit chilly. Worst still, when you’re the only person in the house.

2. Leaving my mobile phone to charge overnight. Recently I’ve been weaning myself off this habit by charging it during the day and keeping an eye on it so I can unplug it as soon as it’s ready.

3. Letting my laptop ‘sleep’ plugged in so I can get it to work quicker the next day instead of shutting it down and unplugging it altogether. Or worse, forgetting and leaving it on all night.

4. Leaving lights on in the bathroom or landing. DJ is a bit absent-minded and is particularly guilty of this, although he’d of course blame me…But he’s been making the effort to improve his ways. He’s been turning off the landing light upstairs so that whenever I go to the loo in the evening I miss my footing and trip in the dark. Worth it to save the planet though…

5. Going out into the garden and leaving the kitchen door open so all the heat escapes…er…DJ again…

6. Going to bed and leaving things on standby like the TV and DVD – although we’ve been tackling this recently.

7. Turning the oven on to warm up and then forgetting about it for half an hour to answer the phone etc.

8. Serving up food and leaving a gas hob on accidentally…Not just a waste of energy but dangerous too…

9. Throwing washing in the tumble dryer when I should hang it out to dry outside.

What are your energy wasting confessions? Hang your energy sins out to dry by leaving a comment!

Have a great weekend, Piper xxx


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24 Responses to Energy challenge: Confessions of an energy waster

  1. Nina says:

    My confession is charging air as my lovely husband calls it. This is when I have been charging my phone then take the phone off charge but leave the charger pluged in and switched on at the wall.

  2. Nicholas says:

    This is all pretty basic stuff, much of which is what my father would have hauled me over the coals for, in days gone by!  I think we suffer from a basic lack of scientific understanding, along with a complete laziness in thinking for ourselves.
    As to leaving gas or electric hob on, I reckon that most people generally use three to four times the amount of power in cooking, through a lack of anticipation and not using lids.  Electric hobs need much more anticipation than gas and I generally put them onto no.4, until the food is getting near the boil, then I whack it down to 1, or, in the case of porridge, turn it off and let it cook for the next 5 minutes (albeit still watching that it doesn\’t boil over!).
    Recently I stayed in a Youth Hostel and was about to use a small ring to cook some baked beans.  However a chap had just finished with a large ring, which he\’d turned off, but had had on no.6!  So without turning it back on again, I put on my pan.  Not only did I cook the beans, but I even burnt the bottom of the pan, such was the excess heat!
    Concerning charging the air, you should have done some basic physics, Nina – no electricity will flow unless you\’ve made the circuit!
    Another basic tip; take things out of the fridge some time before cooking.  Even more important when we\’re talking about the freezer.  In this case, thaw out the frozen item in the fridge over a day or so.
    When you take things out of the fridge leave them on the work surface above the fridge.  This has the mutual benefit of warming the item, and cooling the area around the fridge where the heat needs to escape.  Pretty obvious stuff really, but no-one seems to think of it.

  3. Jerry says:

    Hey Piper!
    Don\’t feel too sorry about all those energy wasting "sins". They\’re really a sign that you\’ve got other priorities. Maybe you\’re trying too hard to be frugal & punishing yourself by the pressure. You don\’t want to head for complete burnout!
    All the battery powered stuff I now put on a timer plug. You can be pretty sure how long each thing takes to recharge so by all means set your phone to recharge overnight – especially if you\’ve got cheap electricity then – and let the plug timer take all the worry for you. Why not also set your washing machine to run overnight so you wake up to the job being done on cheap electricity? Add in using the shower first thing before the cheap tarriff goes & you get quite a saving.
    I\’ve still managed so far this autumn without the central heating. My method is to open every window in the house for just a few minutes first thing in the morning, before I\’ve got used to the place feeling warm. That way I don\’t miss the warmth as usually I\’m too busy anyway. It\’s healthy to change the air. Close the windows again before the fabric of the inside of the house starts to cool. Make sure you\’ve closed all upstairs windows. Heat rises so a bedroom window left open can cost a lot more than a living room one. Let the sun or just the gradually rising warmth of the day take over. It doesn\’t take much sun to warm the house, especially if the curtains are open on the sunny side & either closed or you have nets on the other. You only feel the need for heating when you slow down again in the evening. I\’ve done this for years & it even works in winter. You get fresh air indoors in a few minutes without losing heat from the fabric of the house.
    Energy sins? Let\’s say there are times when quality of life outweighs saving & leave it at that.

  4. Nicholas says:

    You open every window in the house, Jerry?!  Why not just open a couple: one downstairs on the windward side, and an upstairs\’ one on the leeward?  How you go on to make a statement about quality of life balance, is quite hilarious!
    Getting back to my good old Dad, the marker for turning the heating on was always autumn half term.  Before that we were instructed to run up and down the stairs ten times!  – Bring back Victorian Dads!
    ….or should I say 1970\’s Dads?  In those days when energy was relatively expensive, we were always berated for not turning out the lights.  Even at school – I remember a primary school teacher blowing her whistle in the middle of afternoon playtime and telling Class 6 to go back and turn out their lights!  And those were the days when we had highly-efficient fluorescent tubes!

  5. Christine says:

    no name comes up with a lot of simple basics and is right that we don\’t always think ahead or use our brains on energy consumption. I want to know why it\’s so important to rush to work in the morning – as you are working at home you surely can switch on the computer to get itself into action whilst you have your breakfast/cup of coffee/quick shower/get dressed or whichever of those that apply to first thing in the morning. And if you are going to cook a meal of an evening, let the telephone go to answerphone – an honest explanation should cause no offence in this situation. You are allowed time off even though you are "in the office". But your list is really nibbling at the edges in dealing with minor bad habits. Are you sure you can see the wood for the trees? Is the extra power used at home more than the travel to work cost (clothes, food and all the other temptations totalled up)?  In other words would you have spent the same money if you had to go "to the office". If it\’s costing you more to work at home, are you actually doing the right thing or would you be better back in a work at the office situation?

  6. Rachel says:

    Well my worst one has to be over filling the kettle, I think.
    At work, we have motion sensors in the lights so that they go off after a certain amount of inactivity.  A good idea, but sometimes a problem if you don\’t move enough to make the sensor react, even when working!

  7. Unknown says:

    believing the government when they said gas prices were relevent to oil prices,oil price comes down yet gas prices continue to rise,thats my biggest waste

  8. Kerri says:

    If I am totally honest, I can\’t say I have noticed my bills go up that much over the past couple of years. But then, it\’s just me and my hubby in a 1 bed flat, electric only with economy 7. I have always tried to ensure I turn out the lights when I leave the room or don\’t have the heating on unecessarily – things I was taught when i was a kid and we weren\’t all trying to cut our bills and save the planet at once. Our flat is generally warm and i haven\’t had the heating on since March when I made a decision to turn it off (storage heating so I get use of the cheap elec rate at night) but I must admit, I do think a lot more about the impact to my pocket and the planet a lot more when I am consuming energy.
    However, something happened today that made me realise how lucky I (and I don\’t think I\’m alone) am. I CHOOSE to try and not waste energy, I don\’t HAVE to, I can afford my bills and don\’t have to worry about whether I can heat or eat this winter. I was standing in the post office queue and a boy said to his mum to remember to top up her phone, to which she said, she couldn\’t afford to at the moment because she had another bill to pay and couldn\’t do both. For many of us £10 is spent without a moments thought yet it\’s not the same for many.

  9. Gillian says:

    A way to save in the kitchen if you have an electric hob with solid rings is to turn them off when the saucepan boils, the food will then carry on cooking on the residual heat – FOR FREE!

  10. carl says:

    I have tried to explain to the kids that they will have to look after the planet when we have gone………er not interested so they continue to leave the shower supply on and the bathroom lights on even though we tell them most days…..maybe I should have the bills addressed to them to give them an idea how much things now cost. They know the price of everything and the value of nothing. Last tip.turn OFF plug in air fresheners…leave a window ajar on the security latch instead.

  11. Unknown says:

    All this saving of electricity is very noble, but come Christmas the local council puts up 1000\’s of Christmas lights (as do most people in their homes), throw the switch & waste more electricity in one day than ALL our efforts of saving power throughout the year!

  12. piper says:

    Well said Zulu.  I do wonder what difference the individual can make vs local authorities and businesses. All those city office blocks that leave the lights on all night and day.  Carl – may be you should switch off the power supply for a day and see how the kids cope then! Make them pay the bill from their pocket money!
    Christine – good point about the computer. I need to take some software off it as it takes quite a while to power up in the mornings – hence being lazy and leaving it on sleep. As for the cost of working from home and would it be cheaper to go to an office – the answer is it used to cost me nearly £3,000 a year to commute into the City.  I am saving a lot working from home. Add to that the cost of lunch in the canteen every day and the odd newspaper/bottle of water/snack on the way home, probably another £100 a month at least.  I miss my old work mates sometimes though. The chickens\’ conversation leaves something to be desired.
    Kerri – you are spot on. It\’s easy for us to play at saving the planet when many people don\’t have a choice.

  13. gary says:

    Oh dear, PC is now on Christmas once again.
    Yes there will be lights on at Christmas and thank goodness there will be.
    Energy saving is just pure common sense, turn off lights when not required, turn off heating when not required etc etc, but there is no way that one should live without some joys in life.
    Lets be realistic about all this hype and just be sensible.
    Like those erm School Runs in Tanks (well 4 x 4), I think this out weighs the odd standby light !
    Children can walk, honest !

  14. T says:

    A mobile phone charger when plugged in, but not connected to a phone does still draw a current. Try turning everything else off and you will see the meter still go round. Inside the charger there are capacitors and other electrical bits that lose charge and draw power. If you think about one part, the conservation of energy, the phone charger gets hot which is the current it is drawing dissapating into thin air. A rather expensive heating device.

  15. T says:

    Of course, he who is without sin and all. I leave the hob on after I have finished using it. In fact once in my younger years I noticed the gas oven was already hot when I came to cook the Sunday roast veggies and then realised the last time I used it was the previous weekend. I had wondered why the kitchen was so nice and toasty.

  16. Nicholas says:

    Hi, I\’m the original \’no name\’ on this string, although the recent one re-iterated one of my earlier points.  Call me Groobler.
    Any, today\’s rant is about scapegoats.  Of course we\’re right in saying that our humble efforts pale into insignificance against large institutions, and even countries, but greeness, like charity, begins at home.  What annoys me about this green bandwagon that the middle classes are jumping on, is that the thinking is usually more fashionable than factual.  The government are just as hypocritical, taxing cars according to CO2 emissions rather than having the honesty (and bravery) to just raise fuel tax.  Why on earth do we now measure CO2 emissions anyway?  Anyone with O-level Chemistry will tell you that they are directly proportional to good old mpg!
    So Christmas lights and 4x4s…  Well, yes, let\’s celebrate Christmas, and if you think you need a 4×4, it\’s a free country and you should be penalised through fuel tax, the fairest and most effective deterrent to all forms of wasteful driving.  Additional road tax or, even more stupidly, parking tax, is just sour grapes from the joyless puritanical brigade!  – "Look at me, I drive a government-subisidised, two-seat shoebox (which I use for many wasteful journeys within walking/riding distance) whilst you occasionally get out your 4×4 (which you may justifiably require for your sailing dinghy/ horsebox etc.)!"  Waste is waste, no matter what vehicle you use.
    Last weekend I was on holiday with some of my family including my sister and brother-in-law.  Apparently there was a shoe shop in the nearby town that was \’Eco-friendly\’!  So we all piled into two cars with a combined weight of around 3.5 tonnes and drove five miles.  What ever aspect of the footware that was supposedly eco-friendly, was probably more than neutralised before we had reversed out of the drive!

  17. Christine says:

    Thanks for the price check on working from home as against going to work elsewhere Piper. It did have to be asked. I suppose that no-one who objects to Christmas lights around the town will be running any at home then. There was someone on the radio recently who used to put up lights all over the outside of his house and in his garden but who says that he can no longer afford the electricity bill. I wonder how many more people will think the same about extravagant personal decorative Christmas light displays this year because of the cost – or will just do it and then die of shock at the next bill. Councils are now beginning to consider the number of street lights that they have so who knows about the Christmas light displays. I\’d not worry about large institutions, shops and similar and their lights – methinks that those who can\’t get credit with their bank will no longer be so extravagant with their use of power.

  18. Paul says:

    there is one other thing thats going round others to warm up or stiitng with the car heating with out the engin on. how many people would be actulay doing this its a waste of time
    the scients that have said that global warming is comeming also said that the world was caused by a big bang and then 6-10 yrs later they said that the world was formand by small astroides where orbiting a star then when it exploded it shiftted them all slight together some faster than others witch is why we are rotating. They then said in 1998 that the world was gonna end in 2000 and then in 2001 we where all still here thay sed it was goning to end by the year 2012 but the have just recently pushed it back to 3000 and then another scientist said we have a billion years we will just addapt and eviolve to the evirouiment. anyway my point is that just because science believes that the world is gonna end dosent end and i am i a slight consered about it but my grand parrents leave everthing on standy. we all will and sti;l do leave the one light one when we go out becaues of the fright of gettting burgaled
    It wont be enought to stop the myth of "GLOBAL WARMING" we rely on it to much

  19. Jaiden says:

    I am currently running an ebay auction offering the chance for a company to have their logo/wesite/brand tattooed on to my body.
    This is being run on
    you can search "advertise on my body"
    or use the link
    Thanks for your time
    Jaiden Sawaii

  20. Unknown says:

    Jaiden, you obviously have a very large body! All those tatoo needles will obviously use a lot of power

  21. Nicholas says:

    \’Groobler\’ here.  How do I get a name on my profile anyway?  Answers on a postcard.
    And now for today\’s rant (I really ought to avoid these sites, but it\’s so nice to have an audience for your opinions!).
    Firstly please don\’t confuse me with the confused, illiterate \’no name\’ who went on about global warming yesterday.  He seems to have taken to the meths.  I was going to start commenting on his statements, but that would really be a waste of energy.
    In answer to the \’no name\’ who said that a phone charger DOES draw power without the phone, I would have to check my earlier statement.  I would be surprised if the charger contained capacitors, but they would charge up in a fraction of second, after which their energy consumption would be negligible.  The main component is the transformer, but once again, in my understanding, the energy used would be negligible with the output circuit unconnected.  As a trial I plugged in my charger last night, and after an hour it seemed to be just as cold as when I\’d started.  With the phone in, it gets pretty hot, very quickly.
    Anyway, today\’s rant is really about proportion.  Everyone (especially my family) appears to be awarding themselves green points by getting ticks in all the right boxes.  This is all very girly-swotty in St Suburban Comprehensive, but does the planet ever notice?
    I once saw a woman leaving the engine running in her XJS whilst she emptied a few bottles in the bottle bank.  Even if she had other errands to do on that car trip, I\’m sure the greener thing to do would have been to chuck them in the bin.  How many miles in an average car equate to the average family\’s annual conscientious disposal of glassware, I wonder?  Well, I don\’t have any data to hand, but my estimation would be less than 1.  You\’re probably greener to walk once to the supermarket, and chuck the year\’s supply of bottles in the bin.
    Who is greener: a 4×4 driver doing 10,000 miles a year at an average of 30mpg, or a small car driver doing 21,000 miles a year at an average of 60mpg?
    So why charge the 4×4 owner more in road tax and parking?

  22. J says:

    Rachel66: I wasted water  that way. There\’s just me usually so I bought a smaller kettle. I kept the big one in the store-cupboard for when I have visitors.  As I inherited a water meter at this flat I\’m much more conscious of what I use.  I used to be a water waster. 
    I have a mini oven. With that I hardly have to wait before it warms up for my needs. I\’m lucky in that I have a drying space.  No more tumble dryer use for me.
    Never mind Christmas lights – what about the seat of Government. They are not exactly being frugal at Westminster, judging by the lights one sees on until all hours.  Perhaps the heating and computers in the government buildings are at full tilt too.

  23. joe says:

    altho modern techno and other realated stuff is out there now how come major company like power gene ( national grid ) for example are ripping the average person off ten fold! are we just mugs to how the people above think!
    recently i\’ve found out that they have put in a new plant near by, that uses the methane and mixed waste combined to put power back onto the national grid!
    the methane is from the landfill and all the waste that they use is what we, the tax payer, pay the local council to dispose of!!!
    is something wrong with the total system of all this as electric bills don\’t go down, nor dose my council tax!
    ok the machinery would cost a fair amount but surely it out weighs the over all cost to the enviroment, the supply of electric and the disposal of waste!!! or why build the thing in the 1st place ????

  24. Julie says:

    I forget to turn off the printer, have a light on (with energy saving light bulb) at night, most of the lights have energy lights, to save money mostly, but the poor electricity boards don\’t like less usuage! they put the prices up, to keep their profits going up, is it all a con? em….

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