HomesCreating smarter lifestyles We each spend an estimated £9,590 on running or renting a home in the UK each year. The way we live is changing too with more of us expected to be renting rather than owning a home by 2025. As living costs rise there's more need to find simple ways to make greener choices whilst making your money go further. Flick through these tips, blogs and events for inspiration for your home that also eases pressure on the conscience. 3 things you can do today Look out for labels. If you need to buy something tech related, take a look at the energy efficiency labels and aim for A+++. This will reduce the energy you use and save you money in the long run. Here's a simple guide on the labels to look out for. Give your things a new life. Pick one thing you throw away that you don't have to, and find a way to reuse it. Batteries are a great place to start - choose rechargeable. Know your bins. Find out what's collected and what can and can't be recycled at home by popping your postcode in here. Go a bit further - run your own campaign. Home Do something Top tips Blog Ideas bank Blog The power of MPs Last year we heard heart-breaking stories from households struggling to pay their energy and food bills. The people we spoke to tended to be isolated and unaware of the support available to them. As we have explored further it has become ever clearer why this is the case. The range of agencies interested in helping people who are finding it difficult to pay energy bills is baffling. They might be health bodies worried about premature winter deaths and seeking to reduce pressure on health services. They could be local authorities with strategies on housing, poverty and well-being. It could be a central government department such as DECC looking at fuel poverty and carbon emissions. It might be a local Social Housing Provider or a progressive charity. It can also be the energy company meeting its statutory obligations. The list is bewildering even to professionals. How are people struggling to cope with daily pressures meant to find their way through this maze? This is the question we have been puzzling over. We have realised that a key piece in the jigsaw puzzle is the local MP. MPs have amazing local convening power and connections. If the local MP invites you to a meeting most organisations will accept. We have successfully used this influence to bring together relevant organisations in areas where we have previously had no connections to share. The meetings have been a revelation. Time and time again people working in the same local area have met others for the first time seeking to achieve the same ambitions with the same people. We have constantly heard stories of people doing amazing jobs but often in isolation from others committed to the same objectives. Thanks to the MPs we have been able to start creating local constituency maps, making organisations aware of how they can better co-ordinate their resources, as part of a project called Fuelling Connections. We have been able to find one agency who can consolidate all the information and make it available in a format that is understandable to the people they are trying to help. We are using this information in the creation of our local Facebook groups better connecting local people who need help with agencies who have the resources required. We still don’t know whether our approach – and in particular the use of Facebook – will be successful. What we can already say with confidence is that MPs have a significant role to play in creating better co-ordination of local services. This approach can be cost-effectively extended to the whole country and is one of the things we will be discussing further over the coming months.