Be the Change | Challenge yourself to save water and energy 

Be the Change is a University-wide campaign to empower staff and students to make more sustainable choices. It centres around six themes: food, fashion, travel, electronics, energy & water, and action. This May we’re looking at how we can challenge ourselves to save water and energy both across campus and at home. Read on to hear from the University’s Energy Analysis Sustainability Manager and Interim Head of Sustainability, Dr John Brenton, on how he’s making savings at home. 

“As you might expect, the topic of energy features quite strongly in the Brenton house. I remember my kids looking through my phone when they were young and saying “It’s always just full of gas meters!” and now I get those ‘memories’ prompts from my phone asking if I’d like a canvas print of a photo of a meter from somewhere around the University. 

Like most other households, we’ve been trying to cut down on what we use. There are four of us (my wife and I plus our two children, aged 20 and 15) sharing our 1970s house. These are some of the things we’ve been trying: 

  • We use the oven less. When the oven goes on, we try and make sure several things are in together. We’ve bought a multi-cooker/air-frier and they are very efficient (as are microwaves) – the downside is we eat more chips, but the upside is… we eat more chips! We try to keep lids on pans when we are simmering things, and boil water for vegetables in a kettle rather than on our induction hob. 
  • We keep thermostats on radiators in our bedrooms low. We tend to keep the living room and kitchen at about 18-19C, but if we feel cold we turn them up for an hour. 
  • We use the four-minute shower timers the Sustainability Team distributed earlier in the year.  
  • We put “hippos” in the cisterns of the toilets too to save water when flushing, and have two water butts to provide water for the garden in summer. Looking at our bills, we’ve managed to to get our water use down to 60m3 a year. 
  • We use our curtains to help control temperature. In the winter, we close curtains as soon as it gets dark to help trap in the heat. In summer, closing curtains can help keep a room cool during the day. 
  • We’ve turned down the flow temperature on our condensing boiler. 

Compared with last year, which was a much warmer winter, we’ve used about 7% less gas and 20% less electricity, totalling 6,150 kWh and 2,000 kWh respectively. An average Bristol house will use something like 10,000 kWh gas and 2,900 kWh electric, so I’m pretty pleased with our savings”.  

To find out your annual consumption check your bill (or energy monitor, if you have one). Could you challenge your household to save water and energy? Sign up to the challenge on the Be the Change website