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Weekly Tips

Sustainable Living

Tips to Saving Energy, Food & Water - Result = Save €€€€€€€


April 2nd Tip 1: Save big on your grocery bills - plan the meals for the week ahead, shop with a list and stick to it.

April 8th Tip 2: Clean out the drain pump filter of your washing machine regularly - it can get clogged by pieces of lint, hair etc & requires the pump to work harder & use more electricity.

April 14th Tip 3: Put a dry towel in the dryer to reduce drying time & remove 15 minutes into the drying time so it does not redistribute the moisture as it dries. Saves on electricity.

April 21st Tip 4: Get the most from your radiators when on, by making sure furniture is not placed in front of them.

April 28th Tip 5: Restore frozen bread's freshness by taking it out of the plastic, wrap it in a damp tea towel & store it in the fridge overnight. Following morning, remove from tea towel, wrap in tinfoil & warm it in the oven for 5 - 10 minutes at 200 degrees.

May 5th Tip 6: If the base of your iron gets sticky build up, a little toothpaste and elbow grease shines it back up like new.

May 12th Tip 7: To add the shine back to dull jewellery, use a dab of toothpaste on a toothbrush & scrub lightly. Do NOT use on pearls!

May 19th Tip 8: Use old newspaper to dry out wet shoes or runners. Stick crumpled used newspaper in the footwear overnight and let it draw out the moisture.

May 27th Tip 9: Use old newspapers to ripen tomatoes. Wrap the tomatoes loosely in old newspaper and leave them on the counter for 24 hours & voila, ready to eat tomatoes!

June 3rd Tip 10: Cook from scratch, items that are expensive e.g. salad dressings, granola etc

June 9th Tip 11: Baking Soda is a fantastic odour eliminator. A sprinkle in the bottom of bins keeps them smelling fresh.

June 16th Tip 12: Make your Own Wood Furniture Polish: 3 parts olive oil to 1 part vinegar - shake the oil & vinegar in an old clean jam jar until it looks like a salad dressing. Rub on a little with 1 soft clean rag & buff off the excess with another.

June 22nd Tip 13: Before repainting paintwork, wipe down with a solution of Soda Crystals in warm water. It brightens paintwork & may save you painting at all.

June 30th Tip 14: Cook in bulk - cost goes way down per serving when you buy in larger quantities & split it into several meals. You have dinners in the freezer for when you don't feel like cooking some evening.

July 7th Tip 15: Install proper insulation & seal draughts to keep heat from escaping. Remember there are grants from 35% to 80% on the local energy scheme.

July 15th Tip 16: To clean drains, pour half a cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by half a cup of vinegar. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes, then pour boiling water down to unclog.

July 21st Tip 17: Waste disposal is expensive. One third of your household waste is organic so remember you can save money by placing all your raw or cooked kitchen waste in the Community Composter beside the Old Barracks.

July 28th Tip 18: To keep cut flowers fresh for longer, mix 2 tablespoons of white vinegar and 2 tablespoons of sugar in a quart of water. Use this in the flower vase.

August 5th Tip 19: Add spent coffee grinds or loose used tea leaves directly to the soil where they will break down quickly providing nutrients to nearby plants.

August 11th Tip 20: To remove limescale from taps or other bathroom ware, rub with a toothbrush dipped in vinegar.

August 18th Tip 21: Use less of your usual washing detergent & soften the water by adding half a cup of Soda Crystals to your load of washing.

August 25th Tip 22: To clean drains and pipes, pour down half a cup of baking soda, followed by half a cup of vinegar. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes, then pour boiling water down to unclog.

Sept 1st Tip 23: Prevent heat from escaping and draughts from entering the house with a Letter Draught Excluder. Studies show up to 27% heat loss through the humble letterbox. There are many to choose from and cost effective

Sept 8th Tip 24: Only fill your kettle with the water you need boiled. Heating water uses a lot of energy and more water takes longer to boil.

Sept 15th Tip 25: Clean paintbrushes accidently left in paint by placing them in a simmering pot of white vinegar. For dried on paint, let the brushes soak in vinegar for an hour or so prior to adding heat.

Sept 22nd Tip 26: Fully load appliances like washing machines, dishwashers or dryers, as then they are more energy efficient. Did you know that your washing machine uses 30% less electricity on a 40C wash compared to a 60C wash?

Sept 30th Tip 27: An equal mix of white vinegar with olive oil can polish off cup rings and other stains on wood.

October 7th Tip 28: Allowing your freezer to frost up puts extra pressure on the motor, pushing up energy bills so make sure to defrost regularly to keep bills low.

October 13th Tip 29: A spray of one part vinegar to 5 parts water will neutralise pet stains on carpets or rugs.

October 19th Tip 30: Clean your microwave by mixing 3 tablespoons of lemon juice into 300ml water in a microwave safe bowl, microwave on High for 5 - 10 minutes, allowing steam to condense on the inside walls & roof of the oven. Wipe the surfaces with a dishcloth.

October 26th Tip 31: Extend the life of candles by placing in the freezer for at least 2 hours before burning.

November 4th Tip 32: A full freezer runs the compressor less often and stays colder longer, which is worth remembering for the next time there is a power cut.

November 10th Tip 33: Bring back the lustre to a dull sink by sprinkling flour over it, rub lightly with a soft, dry cloth, then rinse the sink and polish again to restore the shine.

November 17th Tip 34: Keep children busy with homemade modeling clay. Knead together 600g flour, 50g salt, 200 ml water, 1tablespoon oil and 1 or 2 drops of food colouring. If the mixture is too sticky, add flour & if too stiff, add more water. When the 'clay' is of a workable consistency, store it in a self-sealing plastic bag until needed.

November 23rd Tip 35: Make your own fabric softener sheets by moistening an old facecloth with 1 teaspoon of liquid softener and place in the tumble dryer with your next load this winter.

December 1st Tip 36: To clean a dirty eraser on the end of a pencil, take an emery board and rub lightly over the eraser until the dirt is filed off.

December 9th Tip 37: Alternative uses for egg boxes:
A. Give to your local neighbour who has hens (you never know what you might receive in return!)
B. Brilliant for storing & organizing small items e.g. safety pins, small nuts & screws, coins, buttons etc
C. Perfect for keeping small delicate Christmas ornaments from being crushed
D. Put an opened egg carton at the bottom of the bin bag to prevent tears and punctures and the ultimate smelly drips

December 14th Tip 38: If the dog needs a bath but you just do not have the time, rub cornflour in their coat & brush it out. The dry bath will fluff up & freshen the coat

December 22nd Tip 39: Polish silver using cornflour. Make a simple paste by mixing cornflour with water. Use a damp cloth to apply this to your silverware. Let it dry, then rub it off with cheesecloth or another soft cloth to reveal the shine.

December 28th Tip 40: Leftover paint will stay fresher longer if you stretch a sheet of high quality cling film over the top of the can before tightly replacing the lid.

6th January Tip 41:To remove labels and stickers from plastic or glass jars, soak the labels and stickers with vegetable oil and they will slide off. It also works well for sticky price tags.

13th January Tip 42: Loosen a stuck zip by rubbing a bar of soap along the teeth of the zip.

19th January Tip 43: Retrofit Your Home with Energy Savings Measures:
- Avail of grants between 35% & 80% for a variety of work
- Grants for attic & wall insulation, installation of boilers & stoves, zoned heating & thermostats, chimney draught excluders, windows & doors in certain circumstances
- Save on heating bills & add value to your home.

26th January Tip 44: Clean Out Your Wardrobe
Decluttering & organising the contents of your wardrobe will save you money. Once you have decided to part with some items, you could make them work for you by selling online (Adverts.ie; DoneDeal.ie; eBay.ie) or Hosting a Swap Party among friends & family (great for children's clothes). Or donate to a local charity e.g. Vincent de Paul, Newport, Castleconnell, etc.


2nd February Tip 45: Reduce Your Heating Bills:
- Adjust your comfort levels - this takes time so reduce the heat gradually
- Adjust your thermostat - lowering by 1 degree can knock 10% off the bill
- Adopt the 30 Minute Rule - set the heat to come on 30 minutes before you wake up & go off 30 minutes before you leave for work & vice versa in the evening.
- Service your boiler - saves €150 according to SEAI
- Insulation is key - Remember 35%-80% grants available through the local Energy Scheme


9th February Tip No 46: Shop Around for Utility Suppliers:
- Compare the offers made by the various companies using either Bonkers.ie or Switcher.ie
- When you sign up for a deal, put a reminder in your phone or diary to remind you in advance when it expires
- Check you are using the cheapest payment method, as discounts are often available for paying by direct debit

17th February Tip 47: Bring Your Own Lunch To Work
- On average a sandwich can cost as much as €5 per day. So based on a working month of 20 days, you could save €100 and over a year €1,000

23rd February Tip No 48: Develop a Weekly Menu Plan
- Put a shopping list together based on a dinner menu for the week
- Only buy what you are going to use
- Stick to the shopping list
- Do one big weekly shop rather than shopping on an ad hoc basis
- Shop on a full tummy

3rd March Tip No 49: Review Your Mobile Phone Price Plan:
- Compare the existing cost of your mobile phone using the website www.comreg.ie/price-comparison

9th March Tip No 50: Ditch the Takeaway Coffee:
- 1 takeaway coffee each working day costs €2.50, that is €12.50 per week & an average of €500 per year. Instead, buy a travel mug & bring your own coffee.

15th March Tip No 51: Just Say No 30 Day Challenge:
- Do not buy ANYTHING that is unnecessary, at all. Clearly food, fuel, etc. are essentials but to everything else just say no. After the 30 days, take a look at how much you missed by going without and decide whether something was a need or a want, you might be surprised. Worth trying!

24th March Tip No 52: Use The Library
- Your local library is inexpensive to use, quiet & calming.
- Borrow books, download eBooks, read magazines & daily newspapers, online language learning, free internet access, join a book, film or craft club or take a free online e-learning course.

31st March Tip No 53: Keep A Money Diary
- Write down every cent spent for 30 days and at the end of the time you can analyse where the money you have is going. You may be surprised at how much money goes on little things.

6th April Tip No 54: Turn off Your Car Rear Window Demister
- Once windows are clear in the morning, turn off the demister as it increases fuel consumption by between 3% and 5%.

12th April Tip No 55: Entertain the Children for Free This Easter:
- Visit Nenagh Heritage Centre: The centre contains a schoolroom, bar and grocery shop, museum of rural life, dairy and original kitchen dating from the mid 1800s, in addition to The Lough Derg room.
- Go on a Lough Derg Drive: Start off in Dromineer, feed the swans, watch the boats and try out the playground. Next take in Garrykennedy where you can go for a forest walk, test out the playground and dine al fresco in the lovely BBQ & picnic areas. Then head to The Lookout for a snooze after taking in the spectacular scenery. Finish off in Ballina/Killaloe where there is a choice of 2 playgrounds, boardwalk, a historic marked walk and for Mum & Dad if they have any energy an outdoor gym by the playground.
- Visit Marl Bog: Located 1 km on the Tipperary side of Dundrum Village. It is part of Dundrum Forest and has both forest and lakeside trails. There is a great diversity of bird life as well as mammals within the wildlife sanctuary.

21st April Tip No 56: Tips for Savings on Holidays:
- Save every €2 that lands in your pocket from January until your holiday
- Check out airlines other than Ryanair & Aer Lingus who fly out of Ireland
- Never leave on a Saturday
- Pack lighter & save on baggage charges
- Rent holiday properties directly from owners e.g. Airbnb, Owners Direct
- Take out separate car hire excess cover insurance
- Sandwiches. Bring them to the airport.
- Eat where the locals eat, off the beaten track with great food at local prices.


28th April Tip No 57: Grow A Garden
- Start herbs on the window sill e.g. basil, coriander, etc
- Begin with a square foot garden which maximises space by planting in 1 foot square grids which is a great way to get the most out of your garden
- Take a raised bed in the community garden
- Grow some foods you regularly buy, e,g. cut & come salad leaves, strawberries, spring onions. etc.


4th May Tip No 58: Break Up with Cable TV
- Having all the channels might appear sensible, but if you are not watching them, then you are wasting money. Online polls show 70% of people watch between 1 and 10 channels.
- For an initial small up-front fee, free-to-air channels in Ireland, the UK & further afield are available through a combi box and satellite dish


11th May: Tip No 59: Shop Around for Motor & Car Insurance
- Motor premiums are up 60% in the last 3 years yet 72% of people do not shop around
- Price quotes for comprehensive car insurance this month for a 10 year old 1.4L petrol car varied from €349 to €493, an almost €150 price differential for the exact same policy!
- Use price comparison sites such as bonkers.ie and always go back to your own insurer with a quote and see will they match it.


19th May: Tip No 60: Reduce Bank Charges
- With deposit interest rates low, it makes sense to keep the money in your current account to avoid annual maintenance and transaction fees.
- Use contactless payments as cheaper than ATM withdrawals
- If you think you are paying too much for your current account, switching is easy


25th May: Tip No 61: Keep The Change!
- Make a habit of emptying your pockets, handbags etc. of change into a storage jar or container every time you walk into your house. You might be surprised how much your cents add up to within a few months!


2nd June: Tip No 62: Cut Out the Coupons
- Coupons are available directly from supermarkets with your loyalty scheme e.g. Supervalu, Dunnes Stores andTesco.
- Sign up to companies facebook pages, websites, blogs etc to receive emailed coupons e.g. Glenisk, Keelings etc
- Use Boards.ie couponing and bargain alerts forums for pointers on all up to date discounts in Ireland.


8th June: Tip No 63: Get rid of household smells with 'Magic Vinegar'
Simmer white vinegar on low in a small saucepan on the hob for 30-45 minutes. As it evaporates , it will help dissipate other smells.


15th June: Tip No 64: Reusing Newspapers
- Scrunch up old newspapers & stuff into wet footwear to both draw the moisture & smell into the paper & hold the shape of the footwear.
- Ensure that your shoes and bags maintain their shape by stuffing them with crumpled newspaper after use instead of buying plastic shoe trees.
- Substitute newspaper for bubble wrap. If you have fragile items, first wrap the items individually then put them in a box, separated by crumpled paper. Finally fill any remaining space with crumpled paper.


22nd June: Tip No 65 More uses for Newspapers
- After using the barbeque & allowing it to cool a little, soak newspaper in water, place the newspaper sheets over the warm barbeque grill, close the lid and leave for approximately an hour. Then simply remove the paper and wipe the barbeque grill clean. Saves on buying BBQ cleaner!
- Substitute dampened, crumpled newspaper sheets for paper towels when mopping up oven spillages or cleaning the oven.
- Unscrew a broken light bulb by using a wad of newspaper and protecting your fingers.
- Store apples for the winter by wrapping individually in old newspaper to prevent them from rotting. Best to do with freshly picked apples with no blemishes or bruises.


29th June: Tip No 66: Reusing Cards

  • Create gift tags by reusing the front of birthday or Christmas cards and cutting a section from the card to whatever size & shape you choose. Or make a once off investment in a tag shaped punch & have professional looking gift tags forever!
  • Create postcards by removing the back of the card, soften the edges by taking the corners off & now you have a pretty picture which can be addressed & posted.



6th July: Tip No 67: Alternative Uses for Vegetable Oil
- Removing labels and stickers from used glass & plastic jars sometimes leaves a sticky residue behind. Before removing the label, soak it with vegetable oil & it will slide off.
- Stacked glasses sometimes get stuck so to separate them place a little vegetable oil on the rim of the bottom glass & then pull apart easily.


13th July: Tip No 68
Before heading to bed, rub dry feet with vegetable oil & wear socks. In the morning, the skin will be soft & silky. A lot less expensive than foot cream!


20th July: Tip No 69: Alternative Uses for Tea
- Freshly brewed tea is fantastic for cleaning wood furniture. In a litre of water, boil a couple of tea bags & then let it cool. Into the cooled tea, dip a soft cloth, squeeze out well & then wipe surfaces clear. Buff dry with a separate clean, soft cloth.
- A brew of strong cooled tea will shine up mirrors. Into the cooled tea, dip a soft cloth, squeeze out well & then wipe all over the mirror surface. Buff dry with a separate clean, soft cloth to give a finish with no streaks!


27th July: Tip No 70: More uses for Tea

  • Instead of pouring unused brewed tea down the drain, put it on the compost heap as it speeds up the decomposition of the contents as well as enriching the compost.
  • If your hair is dry, then give it a natural shine by giving it a final rinse of a litre of warm, unsweetened tea.



3rd August: Tip No 71: Still more uses for Tea

  • Soaking feet for 20 minutes daily in strongly brewed cold tea puts an end to smelly feet.
  • If your eyes are tired, achy or puffy, try soaking two tea bags in warm water & place them over your closed eyes for 20 minutes. Tannin in the tea works to soothe and reduce puffiness.



11th August: Tip No 72: Alternative Uses for Sugar:

  • Clean dirty greasy hands easily by pouring equal quantities of olive oil & sugar into the palm of one hand and gently rub together for a few minutes. Rinse well & dry. The sugar’s abrasiveness helps move the dirt and grease & the oil will make your hands feel soft and moisturised.
  • Make a non toxic fly trap by simmering 400ml milk, 110g sugar & 60g ground pepper for about 10 minutes, stirring now & then. Then pour the liquid into shallow dishes & place where flies are a nuisance. Flies make a ‘beeline’ for the mixture and drown!



17th August: Tip No 73: Another use for sugar
- If you burn your tongue on a hot potato, tea, soup or whatever then relieve the pain by sprinkling a pinch or two of sugar on the burnt area & the pain will subside immediately.


25th August: Tip No 74:
Bread stays fresher inside a paper bag rather than a plastic bag as the paper can 'breathe' which allows the crust to stay crisp while the centre of the loaf stays soft & moist ready for eating.


31st August: Tip No 75: Wet Summer Day Activities for Children & Parents

  • Make invisible ink: Send secret messages by using lemon juice as ink, cotton bud as a pen & white paper. When the 'ink' is dry, hold the paper up to bright sunlight or a light bulb. The heat will cause the writing to darken to a pale brown and voila, the message is visible.
  • Let children go through magazines to find pictures and words to use in collages. Best to suggest a theme in order to get them started.



8th September: Tip No. 76: More wet day activities for Children & Parents

  • Tape a few different coloured markers, pencils or crayons together so they can draw multicoloured pictures or art.
  • Make a balloon that will not burst! Stick a piece of clear tape to a fully inflated balloon. Hold up the balloon in one hand & a pin in the other. Pierce the balloon with the bin at the taped spot & remove it. The balloon will not burst. Watch their reaction!



14th September: Tip No. 77: Still more wet day activities for children and parents

  • Make craft dough by slowly stirring 200g of salt into 200ml boiling water in a bowl. Once the salt has dissolved, stir in 400g of white flour. Place the dough onto a work surface & knead until smooth. If too sticky, add flour by the tablespoon until it is supple. Children can then make them into shapes. Their creations can be air-dried or baked at 110oC for up to 2 hours depending on thickness. Once 'cooked' & cool, the 'art' can be painted & then protected with clear nail varnish.
  • Fridge Magnets: Have the children decorate jar lids with whatever is on hand - paper, markers, paints, glue, fabrics, googly eyes etc. Glue some strong magnets on the backs & put them on the fridge.



20th September: Tip No. 78: Another wet day activity for children and parents
Using ingredients from the kitchen make some watercolour paints:
A. In a small bowl, mix 3 tablespoons each of bicarbonate of soda (bread soda), cornflour & vinegar with 1.5 teaspoons of liquid glucose (try the chemist)
B. Wait for the fizzing to stop, then divide the mixture into several small containers e.g. used yogurt tubs, used small jars, etc.
C. Add 8 drops of food colouring to each batch & mix well. Children can combine colours to get new colours or use the existing colours.
You can use them immediately with a dry brush or let harden & use a wet brush.

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