Category: home energy

Slash your home energy bills

If you dread the sound of your energy bills hitting the doormat then you might need to have a look at this. The average UK household spent £1,400 a year on gas and electricity in 2014, or £120 a month. Living a two tonne lifestyle would see you spending around £600 a year. That’s a saving of around £800 a year, and a tonne or more of green house gas, or g.h.g. for short (depending on how you heat your home, and how many people live in it.). Of course you want to be comfortable at home, but the costs can quickly spiral out of control. If you reach for the heating controls every time you feel the slightest bit chilly, and run the air con throughout the summer, then your savings are going to be more limited. If we assume that you are similar to me – i.e. keen to reduce your spend/ carbon footprint, and are happy to put a jumper on when its cool, but don’t want to be uncomfortable at home, then the scope for big savings improves considerably.

Here are the top things you can do quickly to slash that £100 plus bill each month:

Get the free LiveLight apps

LiveLight is about sharing the apps I have developed and used over the years to help me save cash. For starters, I highly recommend trying the free LiveLight cost and carbon snapshot. It takes 5 minutes, and will give you a great starting point to go from. You just need to sign up for a free account. Your results will be saved in your account, and you can do another snapshot in a year (or whenever you like) and see what progress you have made.

The other free software you will get access to with a free membership account is the LiveLight Home Cost Tracker. I have been using this for over 10 years now, and as a result my bills have plummeted to less than half the U.K. average. The basics of it are that at the end of each month you put in your gas and electricity readings (and any other fuel you buy if you like). Over time, you build up a picture (graphs and everything!) of how much you are spending, and what on. As part of the free membership version, you also get monthly reminders to take readings. It all takes no more than a couple of minutes. But how does simply monitoring in this way reduce your spend? Well, for starters you can’t save what you don’t count – if you take readings at the end of each month you will know whether you are making any difference when you turn stuff off or down. There’s nothing like seeing improvement over time. Monitoring your home costs makes everything a bit more focused.

Get the FREE LiveLight Home Cost Tracker now!

Change your energy supplier

Most of us are on ‘standard tariffs’ if we’ve been with the same supplier for a long time. These are usually higher than a switch tariff. You can quite feasibly save £300 a year or more by switching. For an idea of exact savings, use a comparison site. LiveLight has partnered with uSwitch Gas and Electricity although there are plenty of other well known comparison sites out there that will also get you results.

I like the uSwitch site because the comparison tool is pretty quick and easy. It’s also a doddle to pick out the top 100% renewable energy deals as well as non-renewables from across the energy market – you just fill in the form, get the results, then click on the ‘Green Plan’ filter on the left of the screen. I would always recommend 100% renewable energy providers, as buying your energy from these smaller companies means more investment in renewables across the U.K. – and renewables must play a major part in the fight against climate change and making the UK energy independent. I would also be careful not to assume that clean energy means it will be more expensive – nearly all of the renewable energy tariffs will be much cheaper than any of the tariffs from the big companies if you haven’t changed tariffs or providers in a long time. By way of example, a quick search in my area picked up two renewable energy providers that would both save over £400 a year over average usage figures on NPower’s standard tariff.

If you are certain you’d like to switch to clean energy, the Big Clean Switch might be just the site for you. Big Clean Switch only deals with 100% renewable providers, and can sometimes get lower rates than through other sites. It’s definitely worth a look! There are new renewable energy companies joining the market all the time, as interest and support for clean energy grows. The top renewable energy companies that stand out for me are Good Energy and Ecotricity. I’ve been a Good Energy customer for years, and LiveLight has been partnered with Good Energy since 2013, so obviously I recommend them as a company. Ecotricity were the first clean energy company in the UK, and have been around since 1996. In 2011 the company also pioneered ‘green gas’ – gas from plants rather than fossil fuels, which is a huge step forward. Their reputation for innovation has continued, with developments such as free charging points around the country for electric car owners.

So to sum up again – get switching!

Turn stuff off when you’re not using it

Come on. It’s really flipping easy. Saves a fortune. Costs nothing.

Get an electricity monitor

An electricity monitor gives you an idea of how much electricity your household is using at any moment in time. Just as athletes have a ‘resting pulse rate’, your home has an amount of energy that it is using, even when all of the usual appliances are turned off. Put your energy monitor somewhere where you can check it easily,  then keep an eye on it. We sell the Eco Eye range of energy monitors, as they are British designed and easy to use, but there are plenty of others out there too.

Replace your ‘energy vampires’

When you’re buying a new electrical item, cost is bound to be a big factor in deciding what to buy. But the headline price is only part of the overall lifetime cost. Sust-it.net is a website that lets you make these tricky comparisons quickly and easily. The difference in running costs of appliances can be huge, and at least you have a complete picture of the costs when you are buying that shiny new home appliance. Similarly, knowing how much energy an old appliance is using can help to decide whether its time to take the hit and replace it. Running costs for old items can be a bit eye watering for older or poorly designed appliances, and savings on your electricity bill can quickly outweigh the upfront cost of the new shiny thing.

If you’ve done all this….

…then you are probably ready to think about maybe installing some other energy saving measures on a larger scale. These can include improving your home’s insulation, biomass heating, solar electricity, solar hot water, and so on. These can all be fantastic, but they do usually require more spend and more effort. Some are clearly not right for everyone, but they can also make huge reductions in your home’s running costs, as well as increasing your comfort levels.

Good luck!

The most effective energy saving device is also free

young boy turning off lightMy next door neighbour – let’s call him ‘Old Vic’ – has had his central heating on continuously since we moved into our house eight years ago. When we are having a barbecue in our back garden on the hottest day of the year, his heating is on, blowing out gas every 4 and a half minutes, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You might think that is a bit mad, but it is not at all unusual.  I had breakfast recently at a very nice hotel in North Yorkshire. It was a very pleasant summer’s morning, and a warm, gentle breeze wafted in from the open window. But my legs were uncomfortably hot from the radiator that was belting out heat under the table, and the cold from the air con above my head was so intense, it nearly snowed. When I asked, the staff were unable to turn any of it off – although they did offer to close the window.

Whilst in a car workshop this summer getting a tow bar fitted, I was talking to the rather sweaty mechanic, and I leaned back on the radiator, and nearly burned my hands. It was on full pelt, and who knows how long for.

If you are a student living in accommodation with all bills paid, there might be an reason for opening the windows rather than turning off the heating when you’re too hot. You’re not paying, you probably hate your landlord and would be glad if he went bankrupt on the fuel bills. But when you are paying for your gas and electricity, it seems like madness. We know its costing us a fortune, and yet, we do it anyway. It is now possible to buy gadgets  like this one from British Gas for about £200. They allow you to control your heating remotely, and some can even send you a warning if you’ve left your heating on.

There is a cheaper solution though, in fact it is freely available: remember to turn the bloody heating off when you don’t need it. That way, you save £200 on the gadget, more on your heating bill, and you get to spend even more time looking at cats or whatever on your phone too. Result.

It’s not just the gas heating we all leave on, of course. In my job running my own business, I get all sorts of glamorous assignments, including running my own deliveries and delivering promotional leaflets door-to-door (I love it when new start up businesses put ‘Managing Director’ or similar on their cards, by the way, because I know they are doing exactly the same sort of uber low paid, low status jobs too. Well I hope they are.) Whilst doing a door to door campaign recently, I couldn’t help noticing how many hall or outside lights were left on in the middle of a bright sunny day, for no obvious purpose. I estimate that this applies to between 1 in 30 and 1 in 50 houses. Here is a little table with the daily costs and KwH this produces:

[one-third-first]Type of lightbulb[/one-third-first][one-third]cost per 24 hours[/one-third][one-third]CO2 per 24 hours[/one-third]

[one-third-first]Standard 100w [/one-third-first][one-third]£0.34[/one-third][one-third]2.4KwH[/one-third]

[one-third-first]Low energy light bulb (100w equivalent)[/one-third-first][one-third]£0.07[/one-third][one-third]0.02KwH[/one-third]

[one-third-first]Low energy External Light [/one-third-first][one-third]£0.10[/one-third][one-third]0.72 KwH[/one-third]

[one-third-first]150w High Energy External Light [/one-third-first][one-third]£0.50[/one-third][one-third]3.6KwH[/one-third]

 

So if you leave one old style, high energy external light on, it will cost you around £0.50 a day, or £15.50 a month, or £186 a year on your bill. Ouch.

Leave a low energy lightbulb on for just one day a year, the cost is much lower, at a mere 7 pence per day. Leave it on for a month, and the cost is £2 extra, or if you are extremely careless and leave it on for a year will set you back £24.  “Meh”, I hear you say. “I don’t leave my lights on that much, and I’ve got nearly all low energy lightbulbs. You aren’t saving me much here.” But wait. This is just one light. And you just fell into the big hole that is the grand-sounding Khazaam-Brookes Postulate. Also known as ‘The Rebound Effect’ to its friends, this is the economic theory that states that if we make something more efficient and cheaper, we tend to just use more of it, so it ends up costing the same. Or more. So, you feel good, because you have just put in super low energy light bulbs at home. And because you know they are super, low energy, you don’t tend to worry about switching them off so much. And you leave the plasma/laptop/radio on standby pretty much all of the time too. So when the leccy bill arrives, it turns out you have spent a small fortune, and you wonder how on earth that happened.

This may not be you of course. But the point is that if you get into the simple habit of turning off everything you don’t need, you will save yourself a fortune. No need to shell out on fancy gismos, or insulation technology developed by NASA for space missions. If you don’t need it, and you turn it off, you are pretty much certain to save some cash.