In a nutshell – 6 months ago Ikea gave me £300 to live lagom which is a Swedish word for ‘living just right’. The project and opportunity had a huge impact on the way we live.
It seems like a very long time ago I got a ‘congratulations’ email from Ikea. I’m so glad I actually opened and read it. LiveLAGOM is a 3 year long project and I got in on the second year. It means I was one of the lucky people to be helped to live a more sustainable life. Lagom is a word that has a slightly complex meaning. Lagom is a sense of balance, of living just right, of not being too hot or cold, not too bright or dark. For me it has meant living with more thoughtfulness, choosing products with the environment in mind. With sustainable living also comes lots of money saving and a surprising amount of comfort.
Thank you Ikea!
I am so grateful for everything Ikea has done for us with this project. We have been welcomed with open arms, lots of fika and coffee and an extremely generous amount of time and support. I feel like I have made real positive changes and I cannot thank Ikea enough. Both Tara and Amie from the Bristol store have been brilliant, the lighting staff in store have been very patient and every question I asked support has been answered quickly. I had my cynial doubts about a large company promoting sustainable living but I honestly think they are trying to make a difference here. They certainly made a difference to us.
Ikea wanted me to call these resolutions but I always fail at resolutions, so I called them goals and actions. In November last year I chose to:
- Save money on energy coming into the house
- Save money on energy going out of the house
- Save my energy with better storage
- Save my energy with better lighting for work and relaxation
- Produce my own salad all year round
I had a personal challenge to give up single use water bottles when Ikea gave me a reusable one at the first Lagom workshop. It has been 6 months since I last bought water in a plastic bottle and I haven’t missed it at all.
Every single one of these goals has been achieved with minor changes to how we live, it’s been so easy!
1 – Electricity usage is down by 24%
I saved lots of money on the energy that comes into the house. Sadly the cost of my electricity bill is exactly the same but by changing to LED lightbulbs I’m using less electricity.
Logically, if I had not changed to LED bulbs my bill would be 24% higher this year. It cost about £150 to convert the whole house to LED’s. Some switches had to be changed and they had to be special ones that can cope with the low-wattage of LED bulbs. I’ve saved money quickly because I didn’t pay for the bulbs, however, if you are living in a home full of old style incandescent bulbs swapping to LED’s will make a difference quickly even with the initial outlay.
What could have been better?
I found the whole lightbulb thing incredibly confusing. There are different fittings and I didn’t realise that Ikea sell a cheap adaptor for their screw fittings. I didn’t know that new LED dimmable bulbs do not work well in old dimmer switches and I was not expecting a migraine induced by the flicker. (If that happens to you or your visitors have a look at lightaware.org for help and support.)
Moving to LED lights can require a bit of research but it is well worth the effort. I’ve written down all I know about them if you need to choose a LED lightbulb, so you don’t need to do the research too. My gas consumption went up because it was a cold winter and I worked from home more.
2 – We were warmer this winter
I’d just about resigned myself to living in a Victorian wind tunnel of a house. We already had thick curtains, doubled up on some windows and we sleep under 2 duvets in the winter. Evenings see me and my teenager on the sofa under blankets watching Netflix, we were used to being cold. Curtains at the front and back door made a big difference. I resented the light I lost from them though and I’m glad to have taken the back door curtain down for the summer. The front door one is on a swinging rail made by a local blacksmith. It folds up and sits on a high shelf during the summer.
Although the curtains made a difference (my son said it was weird not eating dinner in a draft!) I really noticed the impact of the draft excluder. I made a double one that slides under the door at an Ikea workshop, using leftover scraps of materials. My son made one that fits on top of the sash window where it joins in the middle. They made a big difference to our warmth as soon as we started to use them.
Would would have been better?
Because I knew I was saving energy by insulating, I had the heating on more. Doh!
I’ve done a Make Your Home Eco course and had a CHEESE survey to see where the heat is escaping in the house. The course helped me to identify areas of my home that need improving and the CHEESE survey gave me a list of places that need sealing up. I’m going to focus on secondary double glazing this year and sealing the gaps between the skirting boards and floors.
3 – I can find things more easily
Tara, an Interior Designer for Ikea, suggested I make better use of my under stairs space. She pointed out some nice wooden boxes that stack on top of each other and coasters to make them roll out. I bought myself a retro label machine and it is much easier to see what I have now.
What can be improved?
Lighting is still a problem under the stairs, there is never the right sort of light where I need it, it is either so bright I’m blinded, or so dim I can’t see what I need to. I need to do more research here.
4 – The house is brighter
I actually have more bulbs than I did last year because I put in 3 where I used to have one, this means my lighting is more flexible and has a very dramatic impact in my tall hallway. I have a dedicated angle poise over my work desk which I point upwards for working on a computer, or down if I am doing artwork or sewing. We have quite a few little lights that come on automatically when they sense motion, so no need for the bathroom light to be used at night, and my son isn’t leaving it on by accident.
5 – I’m growing salad all year
I love the hydroponics unit. It is quietly sitting in a dismal alcove, producing crisp, fresh salad with very little work on my part. There are no slugs and snails indoors so I’m actually getting more to eat than I do if I grow salad outside. I’m looking forward to getting one of the newer Ikea grow bulbs so I can try to grow chillis indoors too.
What could have been better
I wish I’d followed my gut instinct to keep as much plastic out of the house as possible and not bought the nursery unit. It is too big and you only need it for a short while. I’m using tuppaware instead now and it works fine.
For £6 each these are brilliant, we use them in cupboards, under the shelves in the kitchen to light the surface and in the loo so we don’t need to turn on the light at night. They make stairs safer and are an all round brilliant buy.
Using hooks in the ceiling means I have a very flexible lighting solution to a previously dark and horrible room.
I might just put the whole house on castors, they are great!
Next steps to live lagom
- Seal up the drafty gaps in the skirting boards
- Investigate secondary double glazing, or a DIY option
- Work on having less waste overall, I’ve started this by avoiding non recyclable plastics and composting.
- Aim to buy only natural products, less plastic etc.
What surprised me
I’m surprised that it was so easy to make little changes to make life so much more comfortable. I’m totally blown away by the impact just changing the lightbulbs has had on my electricity consumption. I always knew that it was good to try to be sustainable but I never though it would make such a difference to our bills. I always though that to save a reasonable amount of money you would have to be uncomfortable. I was wrong! We are cozier, the house is brighter and it is easier to find things.
Want to start to live lagom?
I’ve written lots about our Lagom journey. Just click on the image to find out more.