There are numerous ways to be kinder to the planet – and the good news is that lots of them will either be gentle on your wallet or make you some extra money.
Renting out your electric vehicle charger is one of the latest ways to help the environment while also making some cash.
Choosing a renewable energy deal could mean you actually get paid to use electricity. There is also Government support to encourage us to make greener choices. But it can be difficult working out what’s on offer.
Renting out your electric vehicle charger is one of the latest ways to help the environment while also making some cash
For example, in March, the Green Homes Grant, which had provided households with up to £10,000 for home insulation, was scrapped. And the £50 ‘fix your bike’ voucher scheme is currently closed.
From electric vehicles and energy tariffs to investing and side hustles, we offer help by rounding up the best ways to go green – and make money.
Using an electric car results in lower greenhouse gas and air pollutant emissions, but they can also save money in the long term.
Electricity is cheaper than petrol and diesel, while electric cars typically require less maintenance. Also drivers don’t pay road tax, or the congestion charge in London, and there is free Government cash.
‘The plug-in grant is worth £2,500 off a new electric car costing up to £35,000,’ says Angela Terry, environmental scientist and founder of campaign group One Home.
‘Also, the Government’s Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme provides grant funding of 75 per cent, capped at £350, towards the cost of installing an electric vehicle charge point.’
Six days ago, energy regulator Ofgem announced that it is to install an extra 3,550 charging points countrywide. Terry says: ‘People are worried about where to charge their cars, but there is electricity everywhere.
‘Indeed, there are now more public electric car charging locations than petrol stations.’
Electric car owners can also make money by renting out their charger to neighbours. An app called Co Charger allows owners to manage bookings – perhaps to those with no driveway to install a charger – and set their own price for electricity.
It has about 3,000 users and takes a 12 per cent cut as a fee. If someone with a charger has four customers each driving 7,800 miles a year, they could potentially make £470, according to the app. You can also rent out your driveway and charger via parking app JustPark.
ENERGY AT HOME
You can save money on your gas and electricity bills by choosing renewable energy. According to comparison website Uswitch, five of the ten cheapest fixed tariffs are green – with Avro Energy, Utility Point and Green offering some of the best deals.
Sarah Broomfield, energy expert at Uswitch, says: ‘Green energy is advancing rapidly, with renewable energy cheaper to produce than ever before. This means green tariffs can be some of the market’s cheapest.’
You can save money on your gas and electricity bills by choosing renewable energy
Electric vehicle owners can enjoy exclusive energy tariffs, such as those from Good Energy, EDF and Shell Energy. These can offer lower rates, cheaper charging overnight and free energy at certain times.
With Octopus Energy’s Agile tariff, you could even be paid for the energy that you use when the grid is oversupplied.
As for home insulation, families on low incomes or benefits may be able to find a grant or discount via their energy company or local authority.
Other savings around the home include topping up your loft insulation to a depth of 27 centimetres (saving about £35 a year) or to replace a boiler with a new, efficient model (up to £300 a year).
Come 2035, gas boilers could be banned as part of the drive to make Britain carbon neutral, with homeowners being required to install alternatives, such as electric heat pumps.
Mortgages could also become costlier on properties that are deemed energy-inefficient.
There are no grants for solar panels, which cost about £5,000 to install. But they typically cut electricity bills by between 15 and 35 per cent, says the Energy Saving Trust. You can also sell any surplus electricity back to the grid.
There are lots of eco-friendly products, such as reusable cling-film and recycled toilet paper. But making your own eco-friendly items can save you money too.
An online candle-making course (as offered by Jo Macfarlane’s for £29) teaches you how to make soy, vegan candles, which you could then give as gifts or sell.
Other sustainable hustles include car sharing or becoming a bike courier. Selling unwanted items on websites such as Depop, Vinted and eBay will also avoid them going to landfill.
Recycling clothes at shops such as H&M, Uniqlo, Ikea and John Lewis can earn you vouchers.
Key to ethical investments
One of the biggest ways to make an impact and also potentially grow your money is by investing in green investment funds.
British savers have a big appetite for this: putting almost £1billion a month on average into responsible investment funds last year, according to trade organisation the Investment Association.
There are lots of initiatives helping people make green choices with their Isas and pensions, including The Big Exchange (bigexchange.com), Clim8 Invest (clim8invest.com) and Make My Money Matter (makemymoneymatter.co.uk).
Once, investing ethically may have meant sacrificing investment returns. But now, sustainable funds match or beat their traditional counterparts.
Figures crunched by data firm Morningstar for The Mail on Sunday show that sustainable funds outperformed traditional funds in six out of seven key sectors last year.
For example, in emerging markets, the average return from a sustainable fund in 2020 was 20.7 per cent, compared with 18.5 per cent for non-sustainable funds. Investors can also check firms’ green credentials before becoming a shareholder.
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