How to economise as the cost of living grows

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Olio

We find ourselves in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis. In March, inflation reached its highest recorded level since 1992, driven by rising consumer prices, up 7 per cent on the previous year. Energy prices have seen an even greater rise, with domestic gas prices increasing by 28 per cent and domestic electricity by 19 per cent.
Add to this the economic effects of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and many households are experiencing a fall in ‘real’ disposable income.
But money isn’t our only concern. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has reported that around 75 per cent of UK adults are concerned about the impact of climate change.
NBVM spoke to experts across the water, energy, and food industries to find out how you can economise while also living more sustainably…

Water
Saving water is crucial both to limit the strain on our water supply as demand for water increases, and to reduce the amount of energy we are using to provide, treat and heat water.
Around 18 per cent of energy consumption in UK homes goes on heating water, so even for those people who do not have a water meter, saving water can reduce expenditure.
We’re at the end of Water Saving Week, 23-27 May, an annual online event to raise awareness around the issues associated with water use, run by campaigners Waterwise.
“Small actions can have a big impact,” said Stephanie Hurry, Head of Water Efficiency Engagement at Waterwise, “and help you to reduce your water use, protect the environment, and save money.”
Hurry recommends simple measures, including turning the tap off when you brush your teeth, taking shorter showers, fully loading dishwashers and washing machines, and using the eco setting when available.
Check for dripping taps or leaking toilets, because this can waste up to 400 litres of water a day.
For those who enjoy gardening, Hurry recommends investing in a water butt to harvest rainwater rather than using a hosepipe, which can consume 1,000 litres of water an hour.
Head to www.waterwise.org.uk/wsw2022 or follow @waterwise on twitter for more advice and information.

Electricity, gas and oil
Lowering your electricity, gas and oil usage can also reduce your energy consumption. LED bulbs are a quick and easy fix, saving around 10-20 per cent to run over traditional bulbs, and they don’t need replacing as often.
Unplugging electrical devices rather than leaving them on standby can help. When buying new appliances for your home, look for those with an ‘A’ rating, which will cost less to run.

Experts recommend installing a smart meter to optimise your usage or investing in smart home technology such as smart thermostats to help you use energy more efficiently.
If you use oil, a smart oil gauge can be installed to monitor when your tank is low, rather than ordering automatically and potentially unnecessarily.
Ensure your oil tank is well maintained and serviced and be sure to insulate your home properly to make your oil go further. Common areas that can be quickly draft-proofed are windows and external doors, loft hatches, pipework leading outside, fireplaces and letterboxes.

Food and drink
According to the Consumer Price Index, the cost of food and drink has gone up 5.9 per cent year-on-year as of March and the cost to the environment of food production, processing, distribution and waste is considerable.
Batch cooking and freezing can save time and money, with homemade ready-meals offering an instant alternative to a takeaway; according to the ONS, cutting down to just one takeaway a month could save over £220 a year.
One Oxford study found that in high-income countries, a vegetarian diet was 6-11 per cent less expensive than a diet that included meat, and a vegan diet saw a cost reduction of around 22-34 per cent.
Another way to save is to use an app like Olio, which connects people with neighbours and local businesses to share leftover food and household items for free. Tessa Clarke, Olio’s CEO and co-founder, said that people are often unaware of the huge impact of food and food waste on the environment. Households produce around half of the UK’s food waste – supermarkets only produce around 2 per cent.
“Reducing food waste is the most powerful solution humanity has to the climate crisis,” said Clarke. “There are lots of people who are having a really tough time right now, but still millions of people who are continuing to throw away food and other household items while others in their community might desperately love those things.”
It takes only a few moments to upload or source food or items on the Olio app or website and Clarke says 80-90 per cent of things put onto the app get taken, so it’s an opportunity to help de-clutter too. Download the app or visit olioex.com to join the community.
If you are struggling with money or want to speak to someone about your finances, you can receive non-judgemental, free support from MoneyHelper on 0800 137 7777 or by visiting www.moneyhelper.org.uk.

by Lottie Haydon

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