image of energy efficiency rating chart

Living greener and saving money

In June 2019, the UK government became the first major economy to commit to reach zero carbon emissions by 2050.

There’s a long way to go for the government to reach this target but there are plenty of changes we can make ourselves.

You’ve already made a good start. You’re a recycling pro and always carry your refillable water bottle, it’s just about getting into the habit and it’s easy. But what else can we do for the sake of the environment and our wallets? Won’t it cost you more? Where do you start?

We're already making progress

The average number of plastic carrier bags a person uses has fallen from 140 in 2014 to just 10 bags in 2018/2019; thanks to the 5p charge!

UK government statistics

There are any number of ways to be more eco-friendly and it’s a myth that it will cost you more cash, in fact most of them could save you money in the long run.

Quick habits to change

  • Unplug your mobile phone's charger when the battery is fully charged, turn off those devices on stand by and turn the light off when you leave the room.

    Could save you up to £80 a year?

    Although it is hard to measure just how much energy leaving things on standby actually uses, The Energy Savings Trust[i] states that up to £80 a year is wasted in the average home due to our habit of leaving appliances on standby. That's a lot of electricity (and money) wasted, especially when you consider just flicking a few switches could make all the difference.

  • Swap those last few bulbs for energy saving light bulbs - they will use around a quarter of the electricity and will last ten times longer than an ordinary lightbulb.

    A bulb could save you £100

    Research has shown that £1 out of every £3 spent on lighting and heating our homes is wasted (source: Dept of Environment). So energy efficient lighting should be one of the first improvements you should consider for your home. An energy saving light bulb can cost you £3-£4 compared to about 50p for a normal bulb, but you will make your money back by saving around £9 on your annual electricity bill and up to £100 over the bulb’s lifetime![i]

  • Turn off the tumble dryer. It’s one of the most expensive appliances to run in the home. If it’s not too cold or raining, drying your clothes and linen outside could make a real difference.

    Save £30 a year

    Line drying outside in the summer could save on average £30 a year on your electricity bill and 90kg CO2 in emissions. If everyone in the UK line dried their clothes during the summer instead of using a tumble dryer, it would save as much as £375 million a year and cut electricity consumption by 2600 GWh![i]

  • Making a cuppa? Only boil as much water as you need.

    Are you quick to boil?

    Although all kettles differ in power, just boiling what you need will get you your cuppa quicker, as well as saving you money. For instance, to boil a full (2 litre) kettle with a power rating of 3kW would be about £0.04. Over a year boiling a full kettle just twice a day costs around £28.93 with (60.3kg CO2 emissions).[i] If you only need enough for 2 cups of tea you could cut these figures in half. If you’re a real tea fiend just think how much more it could be![i]

  • Waste not, want not? Every year the UK throws away 7 million tonnes of food and drink and it’s estimated that over half of it could have been eaten!

    Are you binning £70 a month

    The Love food, hate waste campaign by Wrap, tells us the average family of four can save as much as £70 per month by reducing their food waste. This can come from buying only what you need, storing your food properly, and eating everything you buy.

    Food waste generates 19m tonnes of greenhouse gases over its lifetime – and preventing that pollution would be equivalent to taking one in four cars off UK roads.

    The Love food, hate waste campaign website has plenty of ideas on how to save money, with recipes for leftovers and ways to reduce your food waste that you might not have considered. You can also look at your local council web site for more information on what to do with food waste.


More investment for better returns

  • Keep hold of your hard-earned heat. Insulating your home is by the far the best way to save heat in the winter, keep cool in the summer and save money on your energy bills.

    Keep warm for less

    Insulating means you’ll use less fuel to heat your home, and you could reduce your carbon emissions by 550kgs of C02 per year.[i] The cost of loft insulation for a standard semi-detached is around £300 and could be recouped within 3 years. You will of course carry on benefiting from a warmer home and saving money on your heating bills.

    An interactive infographic from the Energy Saving Trust shows the impact of insulating a standard semi-detached house with the recommended amount of loft insulation.

    Check out our guide

    Take a look at our 'How to keep your house warm' guide for more information.

  • Be smart about your heating. Smart thermostats and home heating systems connect your heating to the internet.

    Could you save £75 per year?

    You can easily take control from your phone, wherever you are, giving you the chance to be more energy efficient. If it’s easier to turn the heating down, set timers and only heat the rooms you’re using, then you’re much more likely to do it and save money in the process. Systems vary greatly so it’s worth shopping around to find the one that suits you and your home best.

    Turning your thermostat down by just 1 degree could save you £75[i] per year.

  • Freshen up your freezer. Upgrade your white goods with more energy efficient models. These may cost a bit more at first but in the long run will save energy and resources.

    Upgrade to save

    When buying a new appliance look out for its energy rating. The higher the rating, the more energy efficient it is, which helps reduce the environmental impact and save on running costs.

    Upgrading an A+ fridge freezer to an A+++ rated one will save you £320[i] over the lifetime of the product.

    It doesn’t have to cost a lot to upgrade. You can even increase your green credentials if you buy reconditioned or used models. Buying second hand reduces waste and the need for more manufacturing.

Making some small changes can really make a difference to your carbon footprint and it’s so easy to save money while you do it!

Measure your carbon footprint

See how your lifestyle affects your carbon footprint by using the United Nations carbon offset calculator

Did you know we’re carbon neutral?

We’re doing our bit too. Yorkshire Building Society has been carbon neutral since 2016.

Take a look at how we're working progressively to reduce our environmental impact.

We love to help you save money – have you thought about opening a new savings account?

If you managed to make some changes and save a little money, it could be a good idea to put it aside in a new savings account.

Check out our range of savings accounts

[i] Energy Saving Trust

[ii] Confused about Energy