Skip main navigation

New offer! Get 30% off your first 2 months of Unlimited Monthly. Start your subscription for just £29.99 £19.99. New subscribers only. T&Cs apply

Find out more

Sustainable living

Watch Thom Whiffen talking to Helen Rutherford about what lifestyle choices will help him to live more sustainably.
Welcome to session three of the course. We’re now moving on to look at the four big issues of energy, water, food, and waste. With me, I’ve got Thom Whiffen. Hello, Thom. Hi Sarah. Thom is one of the facilitators on the course. And he’s also a researcher exploring sustainable energy technology. Now I’ve asked Thom to have a tour around the house with two of our experts. With Helen Rutherford, who’s the university’s environment officer, and with Dr. Mike Clifford who’s an Associate Professor with Engineering. What are you hoping you’re going to find out?
I’m hoping on the tour to get some lessons, some learning, about what I can do with my own life in terms of living more sustainably, what kind of lifestyle choices could I make to address those four issues. But also within the home setting, what are the little changes we can make that will make a big difference to our overall efficiency in how we’re living. Thank you Thom. That’s great. You better go and get started. Thanks Sarah.
Hi Helen. Hi Thom. So we’re in the utility room. What are the key areas in here that we can address? Well, I’d like to show this big water tank in the cupboard taking up lots of space. It is quite inefficient and quite large. But if you notice, it has got quite a lot of insulation. But we’d like even more on there. So an insulation jacket to keep the warm water warm and ready for use. And the reason it’s so big, is that because we’re in a big house? Or what would be the reason? It’s probably historical, trying to heat up as much water as possible to keep in there. But these days people don’t want big water tanks.
[INAUDIBLE] showers instead of baths. So you don’t need this size of water tank. And insulation on the pipes, is that important? It would be, yeah. Obviously, when you heat water up you want to keep as much of that water hot for as long as possible. So any insulation you can add to it will be absolutely perfect. So what are the alternatives? What could we do differently? Alternatives, let’s just draw your attention to the boiler. It is quite old. There’s no energy rating on it at all. And, as you can see, there are no temperature settings, just the one to five scale from warm to very hot. That seems rather ambiguous. It does.
So we could change this to a combi boiler, where you just heat up the water you use when you need it. And so it gets rid of the need for the water tank. Oh, great. And it’s much smaller, much neater, and the space could be used for storage. Fantastic. Just move you onto the washing machine. As you notice, it is quite new. But it doesn’t have any energy ratings. So we can’t tell how efficient it is when it’s running. But one way you can ensure an efficient wash machine is to only have a full load and wash at 40 degrees or less. And it will get your clothes clean. Nice.
So for this one, it also has half load option if you do have to wash and have a small load, which will save energy. So for its age, it’s a moderately sustainable washing machine? It is, yes. And it’s cheaper and more sustainable to use an old wash machine than try to buy a new one. Fantastic. Other appliances with the washing, what’s good? I think you lead me on to the tumble dryer, which there isn’t, which is amazingly sustainable as they use a lot of energy. So better to not use a tumble dryer and air hang or hang things up. It is indeed. Or use the outside wind power to try and dry your clothes. Oh, OK. Nice.
Thank you very much. You’re more than welcome. I’ll go and find Mike in the kitchen. Thank you. Thank you Thom.

This week we have 3 short videos, all filmed in Cripps House, a 1950s British house on the University Park campus in Nottingham.

We chose Cripps House because it can demonstrate many of the sustainability dilemmas we face in our own homes. In the first of the films Thom, a researcher in civil engineering, looks round the house with two of our experts. We join Thom in the utility room looking at water and energy use in a domestic setting.

Those of you in China can also view this video on our Tudou channel.

Think about: How does the age or style of your house affect your water and energy efficiency? (Feel free to upload a picture to our Flickr group if you want to illustrate a point).

This article is from the free online

Sustainability, Society and You

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now