Living off a student budget can sometimes be a bit of a balancing act, but a little forward planning can help you manage your finances in the long run. What’s more, there are some easy ways you can save money and help the environment at the same time.
Use LED lightbulbs
LED lightbulbs are incredibly energy-efficient compared to traditional bulbs and they last many times longer, meaning that once they’re installed, they won’t need replacing for many years.
Technology giant Philips and student letting agency Unite recently collaborated to replace every single lightbulb in the agency’s properties with LED bulbs, a £21million project that encompassed 28 university towns and cities. It is expected to deliver an energy reduction of 10-15% across Unite’s entire estate.
If you’re not one of the lucky beneficiaries of this project, ask your own landlord or agency about the lighting in their accommodation. If the lightbulbs in their properties are not LED, maybe there’s room to negotiate to have them replaced.
If they really won’t budge on paying for it, ask them to replace the lighting and spread the cost over the period of your tenancy. It might cost you an extra 50p a month in rent, but the switch to LED lightbulbs could reduce your energy bills by even more.
Monitor your energy usage
Many energy suppliers now provide customers with in-home displays that help track energy usage. Your accommodation may need to be fitted with a smart energy meter compatible with in-home displays, but the landlord or agency should be able to tell you if it is.
It doesn’t go so far as to tell you where your energy usage is coming from, but if you’re on a budget, it will help you manage your expenses and let you know if you’re using too much energy around the home.
There are lots of gadgets out there that can help you save money and energy. We’ve picked some of our favourites below.
Dryer balls Tumble dryers are one of the most energy intensive appliances in the home. These dryer balls offer a quick and easy solution. Simply pop one in the tumble dryer with your clothes and reduce the amount of time it takes for them to dry. It also helps reduce creasing, meaning you don’t have to spend as much time or energy with a clothes iron in your hand. Twin pack of dryer balls - £11.99
Radiator booster This device sits on top of your radiator, sucks up the warm air that’s escaping from the back of it and directs it into the room. It heats your room faster, so if your central heating is running off a thermostat, it will cut the amount of time your boiler is active. It works with any conventional water-filled radiator and costs about 30p per year to run. Radiator Booster - £24.99
Radiator Reflector A more low-tech but equally effective solution is to slip one of these foil reflectors behind your radiator. Like the radiator booster, it redirects the heat escaping from behind the radiator back into the room, reducing wasted energy and heating your room faster. Radiator Reflector - £5.99
Ecoflap Remember when draught excluders were cuddly snakes that sat under doors to keep cold air out? No? Anyway, the innovative Ecoflap is a more modern take on a draught excluder, designed to fit neatly over your letterbox on the inside of the door. It keeps draughts out but lets post in and could save you money on your heating bills. Ecoflap - from £27.99
Filtered Water Bottles If you regularly buy bottles of water instead of drinking tap water, you could be spending a lot more than you realise. They may only cost 50p each, but they add up.
Think about it this way: if someone approached you and said you have to pay £10-£15 a month if you want to drink water, you might have some less-than-complimentary words for them.
Filtered water bottles offer an alternative for those who don’t like drinking water straight from the tap. This one from ALDI lasts for 300 refills before the filter needs replacing. Replacement filters can also be bought online.
What’s more, many experts believe that the abundance of plastic products in the world could create an environmental crisis as severe as climate change. Discarded bottles make a vast contribution to plastic waste, so not only are you saving money by switching to refillable bottles, but you’re helping to save the planet too! ALDI Crane filter water bottle - £4.99 Pack of 2 replacement filters - £3.99
Coffee Machines On a similar note, if you’re spending money on drinks from expensive coffee shops, buying your own coffee machine could save you a lot of money in the long run. Pod-based machines work out very cheap per cup, but concerns are being raised about the sustainability of the pods, which are difficult to recycle. Instead, buy a simple filter coffee machine and a milk frother and you could easily make a drink every bit as good as one from a coffee shop. This one from Argos is fitted with a permanent filter, so it is easy to maintain. Cookworks Filter Coffee Maker - £12.49 John Lewis Milk Frother - £11.99