lagom energy use

Ikea LiveLAGOM project one year later. What worked?

Over a year ago I had an email from Ikea inviting me to be part of their LiveLAGOM project. They gave me months £300 to spend on Ikea products that would make life more sustainable.

live lagom

‘Lagom’ is a Swedish word that deeper implications than a simple verb. It embraces the concept of living comfortably, with just the right amount of stuff, using just enough resources to be comfortable and it has a big environmentally friendly ethos. A Norwegian friend says that ‘lagom’ means boring but she also says all Swedish people are boring so that is a bit of a broad statement. I also believe it is good to be bored sometimes and one day I’ll write about the Saturday we pretended it was 1977 which was very dull indeed.

When the project started, I split my Lagom goals into 5 areas.

  1. Save money on energy coming into the house
  2. Save money on energy going out of the house
  3. Save my energy with better storage
  4. Save my energy with better lighting for work and relaxation
  5. Produce my own salad all year round

I also had a side challenge to give up disposable plastic bottles.

This is a quick check up to see what stuck, what was easy and what I need to change.

Goal 1 Save money on energy coming into the house by changing all the lightbulbs to LED’s


In the first 4 months after changing all the bulbs I noticed a radical drop in my electricity consumption. It went down by it is 23.5%. This made no difference to my bills because the price of electricity went up.

You know when you go to the gym or have a run or eat fresh fruit for breakfast and think that gives you a good excuse to have a fry up? That is the mindset I was in after the first flush of energy saving enthusiasm. This reflects in my energy usage because I was clearly on ‘sod it’ mode and had the heating on more.

How can I make this work?

I’ve noticed this trend now so I can keep in in check. My energy supplier doesn’t show me a nice visual for electricity and gas separately but I could interrogate the bills if I really wanted to. There is no doubt that the LED bulbs have made a difference to the amount of electricity we use but I need to keep an eye on how I use the heating.

lagom energy use

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Goal 2 Save money on energy going out of the house by insulating


It is March and I still have the heavy curtains up at the back door, front door and the big open arch to the kitchen. They make a huge difference to the comfort levels in this wind tunnel of a Victorian house. I initially resisted the idea of heavy curtains because this is also a dark little house but the difference in the winter is marginal. The kitchen table is also my sewing table and there has been no sewing in there over the winter because it is unbearable. There is no heating in the kitchen unless the oven is on.

How can I make this work?

I need to invest some money in some secondary double glazing for the front sash window and I need to replace the insulation around the back door and windows.

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Goal 3 Save my energy with better storage under the stairs


In theory, the under stair storage is better. I have nice wooden boxes on castors instead of plastic crates. In reality there is a bike with flat tyres in the way and the stair well is always full of crap. Currently some coats have fallen off the hooks, there is a cardboard box with a cat in it, some shoes that never ended up where they should.

How can I make this work?

I still need to work out a way to make the lighting better and to make it easier to put things away instead of dumping them.

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Goal 4 Save my energy with better lighting for work and relaxation


This is a big win. I’ve got anglepoise lamps with bright LED bulbs for work and dimmer switches for when the sun goes down. The lighting in this house is much better than it has ever been. I went to one of the free Ikea workshops about lighting which changed the way I look at it now. I have a light behind me for knitting on the sofa and loads of movement activated lights in useful places.

How can I make this better?

I’m looking at dual use lightbulbs now and the one I have in a standard lamp can change from blue work light to warm relaxing light. I’m not ready for wifi controlled lighting, mostly because my wifi is terrible but also because self sufficiency does not lie in reliance on gadgets.

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Goal 5 Produce my own salad all year round


In over a year I have bought 1 bag of salad. My veg box came with some salad this week but it is locally produced and delicious. The hydroponics unit has been amazing. It is on a timer so the light is on overnight, which also means we don’t have the hallways light on any more. I love my Vaxar unit.

How can I make this better?

If I move some things around I can use smaller growing lights to start of seedlings and possibly grow chillis indoors. I need to experiment.

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Side goal – give up plastic water bottles


A total win. I have a stainless steel bottle in the car and a little one for my handbag. In the winter I’m not carrying it around so much as I was in the summer. In a year I’ve bought one bottle of water for a trip to London.

How can I make this better?

I’m on the lookout for a reusable coffee cup now. I don’t often have a takeaway coffee but when I do it feels very wrong to throw the cup away.

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There is no doubt that the Ikea LiveLAGOM project changed how we live and how we use our home. I’m still really grateful that we had a chance to participate and I’m still motivated to continue to make changes.