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Reducing waste - what you can do!

On these pages we help you to reduce the amount of water, energy and food you waste. The advice we give could lead to:

1. Warmer homes;
2. Lower bills;
3. Better health for you and your family.
4. A reduced impact on the environment and the causes of climate change.

How to waste less energy


In most homes, the more energy we use, the more we pay. Preventing cold, draughty homes increases comfort and can reduce illnesses like asthma and heart disease.

More tips to help you keep your home warm and save money

How to waste less water

Most of us waste far too much water. This costs money as around a fifth of our energy bill is spent on heating water for cooking, washing and cleaning. Wasting less water will also help maintain good supplies for the future and maintain the local environment.

How to waste less food

We all throw away food that with a little more planning could have been eaten. Every month the average family throws away £60 of food, mainly fruit and vegetables, drinks and bread. Wasting less food will help lower our food bills and stops harmful gases created as food rots in landfill sites.

Wasting less energy

Top ten tips to reduce energy waste and bills in your home

View the infographic at full size.



In most homes, the more energy we use, the more we pay. Preventing cold, draughty homes is a good idea for three reasons:

1. It increases comfort and cosiness;
2. It is healthier for you and your family and can reduce illnesses like asthma and heart disease;
3. It can also help reduce your contribution to environmental problems like climate change.

For our top 10 Green Doctor energy saving tips see view this diagram.

To find out whether you are eligible for government help to save energy in your home see here or try this handy calculator to see what support you might be eligible for.

Or check out our top tips below.

Top free energy saving tips:

  • Move furniture and curtains away from radiators so heat can circulate and close curtains in the evening.
  • Check your hot water thermostat is set to no more than 60 degrees centigrade. This can save around £30 per year.
  • Check your heating thermostat is no higher than 21 degrees centigrade. Turning your heating down by 1 degree could save up to 10% of your heating bill.
  • Turn off lights and appliances when not in use - Nearly all electrical and electronic appliances can safely be turned off at the plug without upsetting their systems. This could save between £50 and £90 a year.

Top low cost energy saving tips:

  • Install panels behind radiators to reflect heat back into the room (available from DIY stores). Fitting sheets in all rooms could save a typical household £49 a year on energy bills. 
  • Fit draught excluders into the gaps around window-frames, floors and doors - DIY draught proofing could cost up to £115, but could save £55 a year. So these works can pay for themselves in just over two years.
  • Replace old light bulbs with energy saving ones. If the average household replaced all their remaining old-fashioned bulbs it would cost around £110 and save around £60 a year.
  • Put an insulating jacket around your hot water tank (available from DIY stores). The jacket should be at least 75mm thick. It will cost around £15 and will save around £45 a year.

Top medium cost energy saving tips:

  • Insulate your loft. Ideally lofts should have 270mm (ten inches) of loft insulation. Insulating a loft with no insulation at all could save up to £180 a year, while topping up your loft insulation from 100mm to 270mm could save around £25 a year.
  • Check whether your walls can be insulated easily. If your home was built after 1920, its external walls are probably made of two layers of brick with a gap between them. Cavity wall insulation fills that gap, keeping the warmth in to save energy. The average installation cost is between £450 and £500 and can save up to £140 a year. The measure could pay for itself in under four years.

For more tips please see the Energy Saving Trust website

You might be eligible for one of the government schemes to help you make more expensive energy-saving changes to your home. To find out more click here.


Further reading:



Wasting less water

Most of us waste far too much water. This costs money as around a fifth of our energy bill (£228 on average) is spent on heating water for cooking, washing and cleaning.

Wasting less water is important for three reasons:

1. It will save you money on your energy bills
2. It will help maintain good water supplies for the future
3. It will help maintain the local environment (rivers and lakes)

Check out our top tips below to find out how you can waste less water.

Top free water saving tips:

  • Ask your water company for a water meter - if you are a small household you are likely to save money and if you aren’t eligible you are still likely to get a lower bill. As a rough estimate a single person in an average household could save about £200 a year. Click here for more information on water meters and here for a calculator showing you how much money you would save with a meter.
  • Ask your water company about free water saving measures which they often install for free (such as free showerheads and timer etc), or check out this website that will show you what measures are currently available. 
  • Take shorter showers. A shower normally uses a third less water than a bath- but only if it’s short- try and stay in for no more than four minutes. 
  • Only do full washing loads when using your washing machine and dishwasher and you'll cut your water (and energy) use by doing fewer loads.
  • Use a washing up bowl in the sink.

Top low cost water saving tips:

  • Buy a water butt to collect rainwater in the garden. Use that instead of a hose to water your plants. 
  • Buy a shower timer (or get one for free) so you know how long you’ve been in the shower.
  • Look for more water efficient designs when replacing home appliances. Appliances can range in efficiency hugely. A++ is the most efficient currently.

For more tips on how to save water visit the Waterwise website.

Wasting less food

We all throw away food that with a little more planning could have been eaten.

Every month the average family throws away £60 of food, mainly fruit and vegetables, drinks and bread. Wasting less food will:

1. Help lower our food bills
2. Stop harmful gases created as food rots in landfill sites

Check out our top tips below to find out how you can waste less food.

Top free food saving tips:

  • Check your fridge regularly and use items that are close to their use by date or put in the freezer for using later.
  • Freeze portions of food as soon as you get home from shopping to use later. Many things can be frozen - see this video for inspiration
  • Serve smaller portions. If your family is hungry they can have seconds- rather than leaving waste food on the plate. You can use this handy portion calculator to ensure you aren’t serving up too much food.
  • Freeze any left-overs from a meal. So you can use them for a quick meal later.
  • Keep vegetables in the fridge or if they are going soft make them into soup. Here are some handy recipe ideas.
  • Keep your fridge between 1-5°C - this helps you get the best from your food. 
  • Read labels carefully. “Best before” dates are suggestions for peak quality. Most foods can be safely eaten well after these dates. The important date is “use-by”: eat food by that date or check if you can freeze it.
  • Donate any unwanted canned and dry food. Local foodbanks are always looking for donations, find your nearest foodbank here.

For more ideas on how to reduce food waste visit the Love Food Hate Waste website 

Government grants and initiatives

You might be eligible for government funding for installing more expensive measures to help you waste less energy in your home.

Find out more here