Tips

 

In the PARENT project, we provide our participants with helpful tips as to how they can decrease their energy consumption and lead a more sustainable lifestyle. Perhaps you might find them useful too!
How to reduce the energy consumption of your fridge?
Don’t leave the door of the fridge open for too long! Leaving the open for long-term accounts accounts for up to 25% increased cooling. So please decide what you want before you open the door.
Make sure that the seal on your fridge and freezer is in good condition. A broken seal will cause your appliance to run unnecessarily. Place a sheet of paper between the fridge and the as you close it. Once closed, if it pulls out easily, it’s time to replace the seal.
How to save electricity while lighting your house?

Let the sun brighten your day! Turn off your lights. Let the sun shine. Use as much as you actually do need, and enjoy daylight when possible. When your lightbulbs need replacing, buy LED or CFL.                                                      

Lower the wattage. The cost of running a light is directly related to the wattage of the light globe or lamp, the higher the wattage, the higher the running cost; therefore, using low-energy CFLs or LEDs will result in lower running costs.
Look at the labeling of the light bulb. Here is a simple guideline prepared by the European Commission. Get help from the Light Bulb Saver on iTunes or Google Play.

Style the lights in your house in an energy efficient way. Plan your light design. Fit the light design to the function and purpose of the room and minimize the use of downlights. Having downlights rather than pendant or fluorescent fittings will mean you have to install more lights, so your overall lighting energy use and running costs will be higher.
Is your electricity provider green? (This tip is for families living in Belgium)
Check out Greenpeace Belgium! Greenpeace Belgium regularly scans and rates the different providers in Belgium. You can see here what ranking your provider has, and if it is a low scoring one, the page helps you find a suitable fit for you:  Mon électricité verte by Greenpeace.

Did you know that you could earn by selling the green energy that you create! Although easier if you own a house, it is not impossible to install solar panels on a roof owned property – even as a tenant. With green certificates, it takes about seven years to recover the cost of investment. You receive green certificates for electricity generated that you sell. Visit  APERe asbl / vzw, for more information and help on creating your own renewable energy.

How to heat without wasting energy?
Avoid overheating. At 20 ° C, it is actually quite warm in the house. So decrease your room temperature by one degree and save 6 to 7% energy. If you go from 22 to 19 ° C, you can even save 20%! If you find this a little chilly, put on a sweater or use a plaid to read rather than turning up the heat.                                                                                                                                                                                     
Vary the temperature. Adapt the thermostatic valve to the use and exposure of each room: position 1 (12 ° C) sufficient in unoccupied rooms, use position 2 (16 ° C) in bedrooms and position 3 (20 ° C) in the living room. The thermostat is located if you have one.

Why heat for nothing? Decrease the temperature to 15 ° C at night when you are warm under the covers, or when you go to work. If you are absent for a week or a weekend, turn off your water heater completely if there is no risk of frost or condensation. If this is the case, keep your installation at 12 ° C or higher if necessary. For maximum safety, close the gas supply valve shaft well.
Don’t heat the streets! Both in summer and winter time, it is essential to get rid of moisture and stale air. Ventilate for a minimum of fifteen minutes, twice a day, and more in case of activities that generate a lot of moisture (cooking, cleaning, drying clothes, shower …). In winter, close the radiators when you ventilate, so as not to heat outdoors! installation at 12 ° C or higher if necessary. For maximum safety, close the gas supply valve shaft well. Ventilate without heating the street both in summer and winter time, it is essential to get rid of moisture and stale air. Ventilate for a minimum of fifteen minutes, twice a day, and more in case of activities that generate a lot of moisture (cooking, cleaning, drying clothes, shower …). In winter, close the radiators when you ventilate, so as not to heat outdoors!

How to DIY your gifts?
Looking for something different? How about making your own? The internet is a treasure box or recipes for DYI wellness products. Here are some we have tried and like:
Home-made lip balm – basic ingredients – beeswax and coconut oil happiness is homemade and  hello glow
Home-made body scrubs sugar or salt based:  stylecraze body scrubs and treehugger body scrubs
Home made deodorant two version:  Wellnessmama
T-shirt bags: Instructables
Have you seen the Story of Stuff?
It’s a great short movie that addresses the problems of our production and consumption patterns. Even though it came out in 2007, it is still relevant. Since then, Annie Leonard and her team have made a whole series of short movies, including the story of solutions. Take a break and take a look!
How to save at least 15% on electricity and water while doing laundry?
Your cloths can’t feel the cold! Wash your laundry at lower temperature. The most energy consuming part of your laundry machine is heating the water. Given the performance of today’s machines and more frequent washing, it has become almost unnecessary at high temperatures. Washing is at 30 ° C and 60 ° C usually enough. Washing at 90 ° C consumes 3 times more energy than a load of laundry washed at 30-40 ° C. Today you can also find cold water laundry detergent that are designed to work better in cold water.
Wash your cloths in a sustainable way. Fill your machine well and avoid pre-washing. It’s long and often not needed, especially with current laundry products. Your gain? 15% in water and electricity. Opt for the “eco” programs of washing machines. Even though they sometimes last longer, the best value for using the least amount of water and the least amount of energy possible. You will save up to 40% energy.
Little bit of cleaning goes a long way. Clean the filter regularly. A regularly cleaned filter increases the lifespan of your washing machine and decreases its consumption energy.
Avoid using an electric dryer. A tumble dryer consumes 2-3 times more energy than your washing machine. Dry your laundry outside or in a ventilated room if you can.
Collect the water from the tumble dryer. If you can not do without a dryer, remember to collect water from your condenser dryer. This demineralised water can be used for cleaning the floors, watering plants or tinkering.
How to save water?
We are privileged to receive quality drinking water in our taps at home. And we use a lot of this water. In Belgium, 55% or drinking water is consumed by households. Each  lot of this water. In Belgium, 55% or drinking water is consumed by households. Each
Brussels citizen consumes, on average, 120 to 130 liters or water per day. Much of this drinking water is used for non-food uses, and we can easily reduce our water footprint. Here are some easy-to-follow tips that can save thousands of liters or water each year.
Take a quick shower. A quick shower uses around 60 liters or water, whereas a bath needs around 100 to 130 litres. Have kids? Let them bathe together in pairs, saving 50% or water.
Repair leaks. A leaky faucet can be washed over 5 liters or water a day, or around 2000 liters if left unrepaired for a year. Check your water meter from time to time before going to sleep. If the meter does not indicate that there is a leak.
Stop that extra water wasteClose the shower faucet when soaping up and close the tap when you brush your teeth or shave. Then there are the dishes! Do not let the water run. The average tap flows 12 liters in 1 minute. 
Collect rain water. 
A rainwater tank or cistern, if well sealed and maintained, can cover up to 80% of our household water needs.
Reuse your gray water. Put a bucket in your shower, and the sink when you do your dishes. Re-use the water for your plants, your garden, flushing your toilet or cleaning your car.
Flush less. You flush on average 30 liters of clean drinking water per day, and so do most other persons in Brussels! If your toilet is equipped with a double flush option, use the “economical” flush that uses 2-3x less water than the main one. If you do not have a small flush option, place one or two bricks (in a plastic bag) or a bottle filled with water, in the tank, in order to limit its capacity. And finally, drink tap water! It is at least as good as bottled water, costs 100-500 times less and is way better for the planet.
How to say yes to zero waste?

People are getting fed up with the overflow or plastic that enters our households, the amount of single-use items, fast throwaway fashion, unnecessary packaging and the seemingly endless stream of waste that we carry into our homes and out again in the garbage bin. The solutions are all about giving you the chance to stand up to the mountain of waste. It does not require us to be resourceful, creative, maybe a bit experimental and to be conscious about our behavior, like not grabbing the take away coffee (but instead

our reusable cup to the coffee shop), using soap bars instead of liquid in bottles (or at least using reusable bottles).
Online information and workshops. There are several groups focusing on developing solutions, repair cafes, DYI (Do It Yourself) workshops for clothes making, home-made cleaning detergents, making food from scratch and anything else we could possibly make ourselves with less waste. Take a look at  Zero Waste Belgium and  Consumable Consumption Network.
Package-free shopping. In addition to bringing your own reusable bags to the supermarket and skipping the small fruit and vegetable bags, package-free shops are popping up around the city. Here are a few hints where you can go: a map, and blogs like goodgoal and  miuxua.
Planning to buy something?
It may be helpful to go through this list of questions first:
1. Do I really need it?
2. Can I make it out of something I already have?
3. Can I repair my older one?
4 Can I borrow it?
5. Can I co-own it with my family / friends / street / group at work?
6. Can I find it second hand?
7. Can I find it from a sustainable ecologically and socially responsible producer?
8. Can I find an energy efficient one?
9. Can I find one that will last a long time
10. Can I buy it without packaging?
Sharing economy
Have you heard about sharing platforms where people can borrow and borrow items
only need for a short period of time?  Peerby is one such platform. Looking for a drill or a ladder or a few extra chairs for a party? Check it out, put in a request and people inladder or a few extra chairs for a party? Check it out, put in a request and people in your area will respond. This is all for free and based on neighborly trust!
How to commute in a sustainable way? (This tip is for families living in Belgium)
Times are changing, traffic jams are growing, and it is getting less and less efficient commute around Brussels with a private car. A recent study showed  that we are actually the fastest at reaching our destination in Brussels with our bicycles. Plus, we have a better climate conscience and health.
Biking. Want to get some advice, take courses on safe biking, know how to repair your bike, or just want to get connected with more cyclists? Check out Le GRACQ or Les Ateliers de la Rue Voot. If you do not have a bike, there are several options for bike renting in the city such as Villo, Blue bike and electric bikes Billy.
Critical Mass. If you are feeling a bit more activist, there is a super nice action that takes place every last Friday of the month. Cyclists meet at Porte de Namur at 18.00 and then bike together as a group through the streets of Brussels. The action is a way for the city authorities and car drivers to notice the often invisible cyclists. When we all bike together (in the hundreds), cyclists are made visible and the lack of infrastructure for them is highlighted. It is a peaceful protest to reclaim the streets. The event originated in 1992 in San Francisco and now takes place on the last Friday of the month in cities all over the world.
Car sharing. For the times when we need a car, there is a number of car sharing platforms where you can rent a car for short term rental. There are different systems, some require a monthly subscription fee, some have completely registration and you pay for what you use. Find the system that works best for you. Here are some of the car sharing platforms we know: Cambio, ZipcarDriveNow and Ubeeqo.
How to garden in a sustainable way?
Sustainable gardening techniques can balance your garden’s eco-system and provide an environmental friendly alternative to pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. There are many different methods to make your outdoor area more self-sustaining, so here is a list with some easy steps to get you started towards eco-gardening!
Invite birds and bugs to the garden. Attracting certain species or bugs, such as ladybirds and birds, is helpful because they act as natural pest controllers. Plants, such as fennel and chives, attract ladybugs. When it comes to encouraging birds to visit your garden, feeders and nesting boxes are most helpful.
Choosing plants for sustainable gardening. As native species are naturally adapted to the climate of the place, they require less resources. Certain plants when they grow close to each other, benefit from growing together. An example can be carrots and spring onions. The smell of the spring onions protect the carrots from carrot root fly. Similarly, the scent from the carrots is prevented from coming close to the onions.
Water plants with rainwater. There is no better way to take advantage of Belgium’s rainy weather than for your watering flowers and vegetables. Gather rainwater by setting out barrels or other containers and use this captured rainwater on your garden: a sustainable and efficient alternative to tap water!
Replace chemical fertilizers with organic alternatives. While the necessary nutrients for healthy plants are generally provided by chemical fertilizers, a way to create a sustainable garden is to replace these chemical elements by natural alternatives. The best supplement for the soil is compost, which not only provides your plants all the needed nutrients, but also helps you save money. To get started with composting, gather leftovers (such as egg shells, tea leaves, fruits and vegetables), coffee grounds, shredded paper and weeds and place them in an outside compost bin. Compost bugs will work their magic and your natural fertilizer will be ready after six to nine months. For those living in a smaller space or apartment, visit your local gardening store for organic fertilizers.
How to install Smappee?
We made a couple of videos that can be helpful for anyone planning to install the Smappee energy monitor. Please note that the tutorial is in French.
How to identify appliances in Smappee?
We made a couple of videos that can be helpful for anyone who wants to identify the consumption of various appliances in their household with the Smappee energy monitor. Please note that the tutorial is in French.