Erin Bullions, Team Leader at Bulb offers her top ten tips on how to talk to your housemate about being more eco-friendly and the changes you can make at home together:
1. A little goes a long way: Let your housemate know that making eco-friendly decisions is not as hard as it sounds and they don’t have to undergo big lifestyle changes. There are plenty of simple things that can be done, like switching to LED light bulbs, turning the tap off when brushing your teeth or washing clothes on cold (where possible). Working together with your housemate to make small changes like these can help lower your carbon impact.
2. Try a Carbon Calculator: Take time to sit with your housemate and try out Bulb’s Carbon Calculator. By answering a few simple questions about your day-to-day life, from the food you eat to the things you buy, this tool will help you understand the size of your impact on the planet. The best thing about the calculator is it only takes three minutes – you can do it while waiting for the tea to brew! Working out what bad habits you have will make it easier for both of you to make the necessary changes. Plus, once you see your impact, it’ll make you want to change your habits in favour of a more sustainable environment.
3. Switch to save: Does your housemate know the benefits of switching to a cheaper tariff? Moving to green energy will make a big difference and is easy to do. By changing from a standard tariff to a cheaper tariff with a green supplier like Bulb, you could potentially save hundreds of pounds a year. Also, by switching to a green energy company, the average person in the UK lowers their carbon impact by 3.4 tonnes of CO2 every year – an offer your housemate can’t refuse!
4. Simple shop swaps: It may seem obvious but remind them (and yourself) that there are lots of everyday household items that can be swapped for more eco-friendly options. When you’re next stocking up on essentials, look out for basic paper items like toilet paper and tissues – you’ll find that some are made from recycled products. Other tips to look out for include swapping liquid soap in a plastic container for a bar of soap and buying reusable containers to store food rather than bags or plastic wrap. Every little will help.
5. Carbon-conscious cooking: Teach your housemate a few hacks to become a greener in the kitchen. For example, buy local ingredients where you can, as this reduces emissions created when transporting them – and if you’re visiting a nearby food market, you could walk there and back. Also, by swapping out red meat and experimenting with more vegetarian recipes, you can reduce your carbon footprint by up to 10%. Don’t forget to cover pots with lids and only boil the amount of water you actually need – these little hacks go a long way.
6. Reduce water usage: Go on, treat your housemate to a washing up bowl. By doing so, you could save £25 a year by shutting off the hot tap while you’re doing the dishes. Also, we know that a bath is pretty tempting after a hard day at work but if you can try and convince your housemate to resist the tub a couple of times a week and shower instead, you could save a tenner off your annual energy bill. While you’re at it, turn down your water heater. Water heating accounts for 18% of the energy consumed in your home. There’s no point wasting energy on keeping water piping hot all the time when your usage is low.
7. Use a smart meter to keep an eye on your energy use: A smart meter will help you stay on top of how much energy you’re using. It also encourages more sustainable energy habits while allowing you to keep a close eye on your energy bills.
8. Remember to unplug devices: This may seem obvious but it’s easy to forget. Unplugging your devices really does make a difference – especially as for many, our homes are serving as our office. Electronic items draw electricity from the socket, even when they’re turned off or on standby. We call this ‘vampire power’. And, until 100% of the UK’s electricity comes from renewable sources, what uses electricity also produces carbon emissions. Making a vow to unplug all devices in your home, or turn them off standby at night, will save up to 60kg of CO2 emissions each year. That’s the same amount that 30 trees would absorb in emissions in a year.
9. Work together: Remember this is a conversation on how you can be more eco-friendly – it’s not a time to vent frustrations. You’ll get the best results if you don’t come across as hostile but instead approach the topic as something you’ll work on together. Be prepared to welcome any suggestions they may have too, and take into account struggles they might have.
10. Choose your words: Before approaching the topic, it’s important to remember that we all have different motivators and something that’s extremely moving to you might not be to them. For example, are they an animal lover? Are they health conscious? Are they looking to curb their spending? By tailoring your approach, you’re more likely to convince them to change.