Bringing up baby

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/ posted in Green, Green Tips, Home, Home energy saving tips / 0 Comments

Unless you’ve just been on a manned flight to Pluto and back (and you kept that one quiet) you’ll no doubt be aware that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have announced the birth of their first child, the future King.

Right now, thousands of other people in the UK will be going through the same mix of joy, exhaustion and confusion that first time parenthood brings.  And whilst it’s unlikely that Kate and Wills will be overly concerned about their weekly budget, many new parents will find the financial reality of bringing up their child a little different.

Recent research estimates that it costs a minimum of £143,000* to raise a child to the age of 18.  Compared to expenses such clothing, transport and food, the energy costs of bringing up a child are small.  However, as a certain supermarket is fond of saying: ‘every little helps’, so we thought now would a good time to explore those energy costs, and to share any money-saving tips we have for all parents new and old.

Babies and toddlers:

Wow!  How can something so small turn your life so completely upside down?  But in a good way.  (Mostly.)  From an energy use angle, there’ll be new appliances to plug in, such as sterilisers, monitors and nightlights.  And during the cooler months you’ll need to keep the temperature nice and steady.  But the biggest difference you’ll notice is that a house occupied during the day somehow uses a lot more energy than an empty one.  So be prepared for your bill to go up!

Top tips:  Don’t stint on the heating but remember, the more energy you use, the more money you will save by insulating your home in every way you can.  The quickest and easiest things that you can do are to seal up any draughts with draught excluders, and place heat reflectors on radiators attached to outside walls.

Younger children:

Two words. ‘Dirty’. And ‘clothes’.  It’s quite extraordinary how much washing a small person can generate.  And that’s where the expense really kicks in.  In fact, washing machines and tumble driers are two of the most energy-hungry household appliances there are.  Depending on the model you’ve got, Moneywise reckon it could cost you 23p per load**, though some estimates make it much higher.  And tumble driers are even more expensive to use, costing up to 63p a time.**

Top tips: Start washing clothes at 30 degrees rather than 40 degrees.  This cuts energy use by an amazing 40%.**  Got some outdoor space?  Learn to love your washing line.  When the weather permits, a washing line will save you a small fortune.  Wind power!  Solar power!  All for free!  Plus nothing beats the smell of freshly washed and aired clothes on your child.

Teenagers:

How did that happen?  One minute they were running around in the garden, the next they’ve retreated to their bedroom, communicating mostly in grunts or txtspk.  And how much technology do some teenagers have in their room?  TV?  Computer?  Printer?  iPod?  Mobile phone?  XBox?  Plus, whilst most teenagers have mastered the art of turning lights on, only a select minority can manage the reverse operation.  In short – and of course this is a wild generalisation – teenagers and prudent energy use are not a match made in heaven.

Top tips: Appliances on standby account for an amazing 6% of all energy used in the home.  So if you can just persuade your teen(s) to turn off all their electronic firepower overnight (and do the same yourself) you’ll make a decent saving.

And in summary:

There are lots of things you can do to reduce the energy you use and waste at home, and every one of those money-saving measures becomes more important when you have children under the same roof.  In the end though, perhaps the art of bringing up children is just to keep them alive, loved, happy and healthy until help comes along and they leave home.  Then they can pay their own bills!

*Calculation by the Child Action Poverty Group, quoted at  www.moneysupermarket.com/c/news/the-hidden-cost-of-raising-kids/0014754/

**www.moneywise.co.uk/cut-your-costs/household-bills/the-truth-about-your-energy-costs

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