Some people think that acting sustainably is too expensive.1 In the current cost of living crisis, adopting a sustainable lifestyle might be viewed as simply unachievable. But choosing sustainable products (items that aim to have a lower impact on the environment) could be more affordable than you think. In fact, it could even be better for your bank balance in the long run.

Sustainable savings

While some sustainable products might be more expensive than their non-sustainable counterparts, acting sustainably has potential to save you money, especially over time. Here are some examples.

Make your home more energy-efficient

Making your home more energy-efficient may not only have the potential to reduce your carbon footprint, but it could lower your energy bills too. This might be particularly helpful as energy prices soar. Whether you get into new habits, or are able to spend a little upfront, you could soon see the difference.

For example, air-drying your clothes instead of using a tumble dryer could save an average household £60 per year. Likewise, forgoing standby mode and turning everything off at the wall instead could save an average of £55 per year. LED lightbulbs use up to 80% less power than traditional halogen bulbs and last five times longer, so you could consider upgrading. While they might be more expensive upfront, you could save up to £5 per bulb per year switching from a 50-watt halogen bulb to an LED bulb. These might seem like small savings given the rate that bills are forecast to rise for an average household. But it’s a simple start to developing energy saving habits.

If you have a combi-boiler, make sure the output temperature is set to be the most efficient to help save you money. Octopus recommends 50 degrees Celsius for heating – the optimum temperature might vary depending on the make and model. Other techniques may require an upfront cost, which may be tricky if you’re struggling with the rising cost of living. If you can, draught-proofing gaps could save an average of £45 per year, and insulating your hot water cylinder could reduce your bills by a further £35.

These types of savings could be even more significant when the higher energy price cap comes into force, so making changes now could really pay off.

Shop with a conscience

Being more conscious with your shopping choices, particularly when it comes to items like clothing, could be far better for the environment as well as your wallet. Before you buy, ask yourself whether you need that item long-term or just for a while, which could help you decide where you source it from. If it’s something you want long-term, consider avoiding fast fashion. Spending more on better quality items means they could last longer, and you could spend less in the long run.

Don’t forget second-hand sites like Vinted, Facebook Marketplace or Freecycle. Charity shops may also be a great option for items that you probably won't own for long. You might find a hidden gem at a fraction of the normal cost and save an item going to landfill. Considering the typical family spends £14.50 per week on clothing and footwear, you could save a lot by being more mindful with your shopping decisions.

Reuse and repair rather than replace

You shouldn’t need to search hard to find plenty of reusable products on the shelves these days – from personal care products to kitchen items. They might be a more expensive option upfront, but over time the savings could add up as you won’t need to keep buying new items. For example, the average overall cost for disposable nappies is £1,875. Reusable nappies could set you back just £400 – a potential saving of £1,475. As a bonus, you’ll make far less waste potentially boosting your green credentials in the process.

You could also try your hand at some DIY to save some money. Pick up a needle and thread to mend a torn hem rather than buying a new outfit. Or replace a faulty washing machine seal rather than investing in a whole new machine. As an example, prices for a replacement seal on a Hotpoint washing machine start from less than £30 on their website. In comparison, their cheapest washing machine costs £279 from a popular home appliances store. You can often find online videos of how to fix items to save hiring the professionals, too. Repairing items yourself could also give you the chance to get creative. You could try your hand at kintsugi – the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with gold – to give any broken crockery a shiny new lease of life.

Switch to an electric car

If you’re prepared to make a large investment upfront, opting for an electric rather than petrol or diesel car could be great for the planet while saving you expensive fuel costs. This should still be the case even when energy bills rise, with a potential saving of £900 per year for a typical SUV-style electric vehicle.  It’s worth keeping an eye on fuel and electric prices to make sure they’re a cost-efficient choice for you. Some workplaces may offer free charging for electric vehicles, so make sure to check whether this is something you might benefit from.

This choice is only going to be suitable for those with the capacity to splash out on this kind of purchase, particularly in the current cost of living crisis. Only consider it if it’s affordable for you, and always prioritise your savings.  

Ditch the chemicals

Your cleaning cupboard is likely full of products that are filled with chemicals. This isn’t great for the environment, or for your wallet. Making a multi-purpose DIY cleaning solution from vinegar (around 40p), water and lemon juice (around 60p for a pack of five lemons) could be much cheaper.

Acting as a natural disinfectant, vinegar can be used to clean just about anything. It’s great at degreasing and removing limescale too – all for a fraction of the cost of your usual cleaning products. Compare this to a typical branded cleaner of around £2, and the savings could add up. Just make sure to do your research when making DIY solutions, as some ingredients can have dangerous reactions when combined.

Align with your values

Buying sustainable products can be a great way to align with your values. But did you know your investments could be sustainable too? Aligning your investments to your values could make sure your pension pot or other savings aren’t invested in companies or practices you don’t agree with, such as weapons or tobacco manufacturing.

Some might assume that sustainable investments produce lower returns. We believe that, over the long term, well-run companies that take social equality and environmental factors into account will outperform those which don’t. However, there are of course no guarantees – the value of investments can fall as well as rise. You could get back less than the amount paid in.

Find out more about bringing your investments and personal values together.

  1. Aegon poll of 400 respondents conducted on 19 July 2022. 38% said they didn’t buy sustainably because it’s too expensive.


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