This week is Energy Saving Week (17 – 22 January) and we are always looking for more ways we can be energy efficient, cutting down on energy consumption and reducing emissions.
We live on farmland in an old rural dwelling with our two kids. The land includes woodland where especially during lockdown we learned a huge amount about managing these spaces by building living willow shelters and felling specific trees to encourage forest floor growth and a healthy plot of land for years to come. We also learned how to ensure that we source and properly season wood that we burn at home to ensure heat output is efficient and produces lower emissions.
The land is managed and rotated very carefully and use of chemicals is kept to an absolute minimum, and in recent years the farm has installed a large PV solar array along with a borehole water supply that is used to power and wash the dairy and parlour. Our milk goes to local customers whenever possible, and we currently provide milk for Lancashire Farms yoghurt. We also heat our water and radiators using a large biomass heat plant which is over 93% efficient, and for which I undertake the majority of the maintenance as it is far more accessible than systems like gas and oil to work on.
We have tried to be more mindful of compartmentalising heat and power use to specific areas of the house depending on who is home and what we are doing, which has become all the more important now that working from home and home education during isolation is part of our everyday lives. Since lockdown and the move to home working, I essentially live in one area of the house during the main part of the day, so this is the only space where I concentrate comfortable heating levels and any lighting. I also ensured that any last light fittings that were still using less efficient technologies were switched to LED at the start of 2020. During summer in fact, I would often sit outside for most of the day, meaning the only power needed was for my laptop.
I think it’s important to make changes that are achievable and sustainable as part of everyday life otherwise it often ends up being short lived. We have kids and a very busy life, so this balance has been key. We don’t see it as a challenge, we see it as ‘life but taking a second to think whenever you do something’.
Little differences add up, and when large companies like BAE Systems are seen to make the effort to encourage their employees to take it on, many others will take note. An example of this is the ‘Big Switch’ campaign employees were encouraged to take part in during November 2021 – a pledge to try a climate-friendly lifestyle choice. From leaving the car at home, giving old clothes a new lease of life, to eating more meat free meals, there were plenty of ways to get involved, and for each pledge made a tree was donated by the company, resulting in more than 2,600 due to be planted across the UK.
My lads love farming, and everything to do with outdoors. Their school, which is small at only a maximum of 90 kids, is also rural and full of like-minded kids and parents. It is very open to initiatives that promote the environment and learning all about it.
My top energy saving tip
Compartmentalising your energy use is a simple yet effective way to be more energy efficient. If you are able to stay in one area of the house when working from home, for example downstairs and only heat this area of your house, this small change will make a big difference to your energy consumption.