Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Energy saving week tips

It is energy saving week. If there is one time of year when you think about saving energy, this is a good time to do it because there is lots of advice out there. (If you live in or near Cambridge, you could go to the central library and get Tania to show you tools to help you. Also she can show you the pilot version of DAREED, a city-scale smart energy management tool - the current version is underwhelming but I can see the potential.)



Do you want to save energy or just reduce your bills? If you want to reduce your bills, switching to a cheaper energy provider is usually easiest - most people do this rarely if at all. Back in June, the Competition and Markets Authority found that we could collectively save £1.4 billion/year if we shopped around for the cheapest tariff (see Energy Market Criticisms for everyone). Actually that is only about £21/person on average, but some people can save a lot more than others: you could be one of them. If you are, you can try switching individually via a site like Uswitch. Or you can join a group switching scheme like this one in Cambridgeshire. The more people who join the scheme, the greater the collective bargaining advantage.

Personally, my main motivation to save energy is to reduce my carbon emissions. That means reducing both gas and energy use. There are basically four broad approaches to this, as this slide from one of my recent workshops shows.


Here are some examples for energy saving tips at home (and there are lots more here Low cost/no cost tips to cut energy bills from Transition Cambridge).

Reducing waste
Don't overfill the kettle, or saucepans - heating water is expensive. Keep lids on saucepans - steam is even more energy-intensive. Fix the draughts (see Draughts and Ventilation). Insulate the loft and everything else. Turn stuff off when it isn't needed (see Can you really save £86/year by switching off the vampires.) Turn down the radiators in rooms that you don't use. Don't let curtains hang in front of radiators.

Increase efficiency
Make sure you have an efficient condensing boiler (see also Central heating tips from Transition Cambridge). When you buy new appliances, buy efficient ones - and don't just look at the letter grade on the energy certificate because that doesn't actually tell you how much energy it uses - look at the numbers (see Energy Efficient Appliances - the ratings confusion).

Reduce service
Size is usually important - when buying appliances like TVs and fridges, don't buy bigger than you need. Don't run the dishwasher/washing machine until it is full. Optimise your heating timer to give you heat when and where you actually want it. Also you can try turning down the thermostat a little bit at a time - live with it for a week or two before you decide if you are comfy or not. Don't daydream in the shower - you can do it just as well somewhere else. Or fit a low flow shower head.

Use free energy
Don't use the tumble dryer if you have a garden and the sun is shining - use free solar energy. Use natural light wherever possible (I have a favourite spot for reading in front of a large bay window).

Most of these tips will only save you a little energy, but they do add up. I hope you find them useful.


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