Household wins a year’s supply of green electricity
05 November 2008
A guide to cutting electricity use and saving money
Seaford resident Carol Worms has won a year’s free supply of renewable electricity from green electricity supplier green energy uk. Carol correctly answered a question in a national competition by visiting the green energy uk website, and now all electricity in her home for the next twelve months is not only free of charge, but also is free from carbon emissions. Carol can also win a second year’s free electricity with green energy uk if she can reduce her electricity consumption by 10% during the next year.
Carol, who with her husband George runs car recycling business Brighton Motorama, is delighted with her prize. “It’s fantastic. I’m very pleased and excited by the challenge of reducing the amount of electricity we use. It is making us think about how we can save energy. We try to be as green as we can, and we have energy saving bulbs in most rooms, but I’ve noticed how appliances like my microwave and oven both have digital clocks that are on all the time. We looked into buying solar panels so we could have renewable electricity at home, but it was too expensive, and now thanks to green energy uk we have it.”
green energy uk has two tariffs: Deep Green, which is from 100% renewable sources, and Pale Green which is cleaner, greener Combined Heat and Power (CHP) from Ofgem-accredited generators. Carol will be using Deep Green electricity that is created by green energy uk’s solar, wind, hydro and biomass generators which are spread across the UK. The most unusual of these is a pig farmer who uses methane given off by pig waste to make electricity. green energy uk is also helping Carol by providing her with an energy monitor to measure her electricity use.
green energy uk chief executive and founder, Doug Stewart, says: “It’ll be interesting to see if Carol can use less electricity in her home. I hope she can do it and I hope it inspires other people to try and do the same. If we can all reduce our electricity use in our homes by 10%, it will save all of us money. We only supply green electricity, but the vast majority of electricity used in the UK comes from brown fossil fuel sources. If we can get everyone to reduce their consumption just a little, it will lower national demand, reduce carbon emission and have a positive environmental impact.”
In Doug’s opinion, the greenest electricity is the electricity we don’t use! Even though his business is about selling green electricity, he wants us to use less of his product.
In the following guide, Doug explains some of the things we and Carol can do to reduce electricity consumption in the home.
Help cut your electricity use
If possible, and if you’ve not already done it, replace all filament bulbs in your home with energy-efficient bulbs or compact fluorescent lamps. Energy-efficient bulbs use 80% less electricity and are ideal in rooms lit for long periods. One bulb can save £60 over the course of its lifetime.
Strip lighting, sometimes known as fluorescent lighting, also wastes very little electrical energy through heat. Strip lighting distributes an even level of light over a wide area and is recommended for prolonged use in large rooms. Spotlighting does not use up much energy alone, but spotlights only light up a small area, so ideally they should never be used to light a room. Use sensor or timer switches where lights do not need to be kept on all the time and dimmer switches in rooms where lighting is too high.
Remember to also turn lights off when you’re not using them! You can install and set timer switches to turn off outside lights.
Another thing to think about is making the most out of natural light. Keep windows, patio and other glass doors clean. You can also increase natural light levels by removing any obstructions that might be blocking its path (this can mean repositioning furniture or pruning back your garden). Paint windowsills and walls white, as this will help reflect natural light and brighten up your room.
Protecting your home from the cold will help reduce heating costs. Cavity wall insulation, which Carol has just had installed in her home, can save around £120 a year on the cost of heating. Loft insulation will also keep your home warmer and save you money. There are grants available to help pay for this, and a good place to check to see if you are entitled to one is www.energysavingtrust.org.uk - the Energy Savings Trust says that if everyone in the UK topped up their loft insulation to 270mm, over £700m would be saved each day.
If you have a hot water tank, fit it with an insulating jacket. A 75mm British Standard jacket can be bought for around £10. This can save a household up to 25% of the CO2 emissions from water heating.
Six DIY ways to save money on heating
- Clear obstacles from in front of radiators so heat can fill the room.
- Put aluminium foil behind radiators that are attached to external walls so it reflects heat back into the room instead of letting it escape outside.
- Well-maintained radiators will function more efficiently and save energy, so every so often bleed radiators to release trapped air.
- Avoid hanging wet clothes on radiators, as this makes them work harder and they are not as efficient.
- Fit thermostats to your radiators. This will give you greater control over heating in your home and let you turn radiators down or off in rooms where it is not needed.
- Identify draughts in each area of your home and remedy the problem. Fitting draught excluders to all gaps around doors and windows, letterboxes and keyholes, and filling gaps in skirting boards and floorboards will keep areas warmer and save energy.
Another tip to help reduce the amount of electricity used to heat your home is to wear extra layers of clothing and turn the temperature down by a couple of degrees. Doing this can produce significant savings
First and foremost, turn off at the mains all electrical appliances that are not in use. Leaving any appliance on standby is wasting your electricity. The sleep mode on a computer is designed to protect its screen, not to reduce its electricity use, so turn it off and back on when you need it. Printers and modems are often left on when not in use, as soon as you’ve finished using them try and adopt a policy of turning them off.
When boiling the kettle only fill it with the amount of water you need - anything extra is wasting your electricity. Remember to also turn your mobile phone charger off once your phone is charged. Mobile phone chargers are incredibly wasteful if left on. Some mobile phones can be charged via a car battery or computer - either of these ways will help reduce your household’s electricity consumption, as will a wind-up mobile phone charger.
Make the most of your microwave oven. It uses a lot less electricity to cook food than an electric oven. Electric tumble dryers are huge electricity-eaters. If possible dry your clothes outside on a washing line. If the weather isn’t good, use an indoor washing line or clothes rack that fits in your bath or shower, or try improvising by hanging your wet washing from the shower rod.
Position your fridge near an outside wall. This will help keep it cool. Keep a gap of a few inches around your fridge so air can circulate around it. Let hot food cool down before putting it in a fridge. Putting hot food in a fridge will make the fridge use more electricity, as it has to work harder to cool the food down. Keeping the freezer full is more efficient, so try and cook in bulk and make extra meals that you can freeze and warm in the microwave another day. Defrosting the freezer on a regular basis will also improve its efficiency.
Manufacturers are also becoming increasingly savvy about the need to conserve electricity. There are now a growing number of green appliances available. These range from products that use less electricity to products that use no electricity at all, such as solar powered chargers or the wind-up media players that play MP3 tracks and video clips.
There are plenty of websites out there which can further advise and help you use less electricity in the home. Some also sell green products. My favourites are: